When you are pregnant everything you eat and drink can affect your baby too, so it is best to avoid certain foods which, while perfectly safe when you are not pregnant, may cause sickness to you and your baby in the womb.
- Try to avoid raw or undercooked eggs and only buy eggs with the British lion mark to minimise the risk that they contain salmonella. Make sure both the white and the yolk are firm and well cooked. Watch out for food that may contain raw eggs such as freshly made mayonnaise, mousse and ice cream. However, supermarket mayonnaise and salad dressing will usually contain pasteurised egg and so are safe to eat. It is always best to check the ingredients list.
- Similarly, dairy products made from unpasteurised milk may contain bacteria, which can give rise to food poisoning. Remember that your body is more susceptible to these bugs when pregnant.
- You should seriously consider giving a wide berth to blue-veined cheese and cheese with a white rind, like Camembert and brie, during your pregnancy. Also, stay away from soft unpasteurised cheese and those made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. All these cheeses may contain elements of listeria, which causes a condition called listeriosis that could harm your baby.
- Most fresh well-cooked meats are fine to eat but it would be wise to steer clear of liver while you are pregnant. All meats should be cooked right through with no pink meat at the centre and the juice should always run clear. Be cautious therefore about eating barbecue food or microwave ready meals.
- Try to avoid cured and smoked meats such as Parma ham and salami as these do carry a risk of listeriosis and toxoplasmosis (parasitic disease). All forms of pate may also contain listeria.
- If you love your fish, it might be sensible to put off eating shark meat, swordfish or marlin as they contain naturally high levels of mercury. Tuna fish also contains traces of mercury so it is best, if you do eat tuna during pregnancy, to limit yourself to four small tins or two fresh tuna steaks per week.
- All forms of shellfish are very risky, as they can cause serious food poisoning and some may contain pollutants (PCBs) and high levels of dioxins. Other fish to avoid or at least cut down on, for these same reasons include oily fish, rock salmon, halibut, sea bass, sea bream and turbot.
- It is wise not to exceed 200mg of caffeine per day, which is the equivalent of two cups of coffee, two mugs of tea or five cans of cola. Excessive caffeine intake can cause low birth weight and even miscarriage. If you really love your tea and coffee switch to decaffeinated for the duration of your pregnancy.
UK government advice to pregnant mums-to-be is to avoid alcohol altogether. If you do decide to drink alcohol during pregnancy, limit yourself to one or two units once a week and never, ever get drunk.