The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
Read more »
now, more than ever, taking care of yourself is top priority. With your baby developing inside you, you know you should get the most out of what you’re eating. You also know that you need extra calories for your baby’s development. But there may be something you haven’t thought about: Avoiding foods that make you sick or that harm your growing baby is also an important part of the equation.
The fact is, certain foods, such as soft cheeses, deli meats, and uncooked meat, poultry or fish, are dangerous during pregnancy because your immune system is suppressed. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love. With just a few changes in your diet, it is possible to enjoy your favorite foods and eat safely. And you may just discover some new favorites to enjoy after your pregnancy. Here’s a guide to the basics of pregnancy nutrition, plus recipes so good, you’ll hardly miss the real thing.
Foods to avoid
Some foods can pose risks even when you’re not pregnant but can be seriously hazardous to you or your baby during pregnancy. Here are some.
(soft cheeses and deli meats) Listeria is a dangerous bacterium found in foods like soft cheeses and ready-to-eat deli meats. “This bacterium can cause flulike symptoms and fetal infections that may lead to miscarriage,” says Elizabeth Ward, M.S., R.D., author of Pregnancy Nutrition: Good Health for You and Your Baby (John Wiley & Sons, 1998). Ward recommends avoiding brie, feta, blue, Camembert, soft Mexican cheeses and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. A combination of Romano and creamy ricotta gives a similar texture and flavor. Avoid deli-counter meats; hot dogs and sausages should be heated to 165 F.
(raw foods) Eating raw, rare or undercooked meat, poultry fish or shellfish, and undercooked eggs is discouraged during pregnancy. The food-borne illnesses associated with these foods can cause diarrhea and fever, and can be passed on to the fetus. So sushi is out for now, unless made with cooked seafood; burgers should be well-done; poultry and fish must be cooked thoroughly; and dishes with soft-cooked or uncooked eggs should be avoided.
(some fish) Swordfish and shark are among the large predatory fish that should be eaten no more than once a month, says the Food and Drug Administration. Mercury accumulates in these fish and can cause brain damage in the human fetus.
With Spinach and Peppers