What at the Most Important Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy?

Sometimes it seems as if women here a constant litany of foods to avoid during pregnancy.  After all, we all know that alcohol and caffeine are bad for the baby, but how many of the other suggestions have merit? 

From comments about spicy foods causing ill tempered babies to warnings about babies glowing in response to new security monitors at airports, pregnant women are bombarded by information, much of it false.  That makes it very difficult when it comes time to decide what NOT to put on your dinner plate.

To help you sort through all the myths could take a decade; so instead, here is a short list of itemss you really do want to avoid if you are pregnant.

Herbal teas – May as well start with the most controversial first.  There are many natural birth advocates who not only support drinking a lot of herbal tea during pregnancy, but actively encourage it.  In fact, there are a couple of herbal teas that can be quite helpful. 

For example, ginger tea may help control morning sickness, and some studies indicate that drinking Raspberry leaf tea may shorten the duration of labor. 

However, there are also many, many teas that contain ingredients that encourage abortions and contractions, and can affect fetal heart rates.  Until you consult with your doctor and know exactly what is in the tea, it is best to avoid it.

Raw Fish, Fowl and Meat – Fish and meat are sometimes eaten raw, while poultry rarely is, at least on purpose.  However, it isn’t unheard of to undercook any of these. 

Meats of all sorts potentially carry a number of parasites, bacteria and other little nasties.  If you think morning sickness is bad, think what it would be like if you have salmonella poisoning on top. 

Cook fish until it is opaque, meat until it is pink in the middle and poultry until it is cooked through.

Nutritional Supplements – Just as with herbal teas, no one is ever completely sure what is in those bottles they pick up.  The FDA doesn’t supervise the production or distribution of such items, and especially if you are dabbling in foreign supplements, their ingredients are anyone’s guess.  Before you add anything like this to your diet, consult with your doctor.

Mercury-Rich Fish – Not only should you eat fish while pregnant, you want to eat it regularly.  On the other hand, some fish are loaded with high levels of mercury.  Mercury is responsible for a variety of unpleasant symptoms, most of which relate to nerve and brain damage. 

Fish that contain unacceptable levels or mercury include shark, king mackerel, swordfish and some varieties of tuna.  Keep up to date on which fish should be avoided and stick to those considered safe.  Wild caught fish are always better than farmed fish, and should be your fish of choice.

Your best source of information when pregnant will be your primary care giver, whether it is your midwife or doctor.  They will be able to recommend solutions for eating, medical issues and any concerns you have. 

If you feel pressured by in-laws or friends to try something, you best bet is to thank them for their suggestion, accept whatever they give you graciously and then call your caregiver. 

The fact is that you can eat almost everything you ate before safely.  The food choices you make will directly affect your growing baby, though, so make sure that you maximize your nutrition and eat a wide variety of foods.  It won’t be long before you get to hold the ultimate reward in your arms, a happy, healthy baby.