Foods To Avoid In Pregnancy
It can be hard to say goodbye to some of your favourite foods and drinks during your pregnancy, but remember, it's only for a short time and your baby will benefit hugely. Foods to avoid include:
Liver & Liver Products
The reason for this is that patés and liver sausage contain high levels of vitamin A. In high doses, this is toxic and can lead to serious birth defects. Avoid these products during your pregnancy. Vegetable pate is also to be avoided, because of the risk of the food-borne infection listeriosis.
They contain a particular kind of Vitamin A which is harmful during pregnancy and you'll need to steer clear of them.
Unpasteurised Dairy Product
Unpasteurised milk, soft ripened cheeses such as Brie, blue veined cheeses like Danish blue or Cambozola and unpasteurised (raw) dairy products can put you and your baby at risk of food-borne infection, such as salmonella or listeria.
Certain Egg Products
The exception to the homemade rule comes with raw/lightly cooked eggs, when shop-bought may well be best. For example, shop-bought ice-cream, mayonnaise and caesar salad dressings generally use pasteurised eggs and are thus fine – but always check the label. If you enjoy making homemade mayonnaise or ice-cream, you'll need to give them a miss. If you like your boiled egg just done, you'll also need to leave it to cook until the yolk and white is solid.
And fish, shellfish or poultry. Make sure that everything is cooked thoroughly, with no pink bits.
Shark & Swordfish
They contain high levels of mercury and you shouldn't eat these fish during pregnancy. Tuna is fine, in moderation. The HSE recommends that pregnant women eat no more than '2 medium-sized cans 140g (5oz) drained weight or 1 fresh tuna steak 140g (5oz) cooked weight a week'.
Although these aren't harmful as such, it's best that you keep them to a minimum as they don't have any nutritional value. Choose labels that say 'freshly squeezed', 'unsweetened' and 'fresh' instead.
Current advice from the Department of Health is that pregnant women should avoid all alcohol. There is no proven safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, but if you cut out alcohol during pregnancy, you eliminate any possible risk to the baby. If you drink heavily or regularly and find it difficult to cut down or stop, talk to your midwife or doctor as you are putting your baby's health at risk.
This is found in tea, coffee, chocolate/cocoa, some fizzy drinks and some energy drinks. It acts as a stimulant, and drinking excessive amounts may affect your baby's birth weight. We know that caffeine passes freely across the placenta, so your baby is consuming almost as much as you. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland suggests that pregnant women should stick to the recommended levels of around 200mg per day. This is equivalent to 2 cups of brewed coffee or 3 cups of instant (providing you don't make it too strong). Tea contains less caffeine (44mgs per cup), but contains tannin (see below). If you are lucky enough to be one of those women who 'go off' the taste of tea and coffee during your pregnancy, great. If you're not, try to stick to this limit, or choose caffeine-free versions of your favourite tea and coffee. Also, caffeine passed through your milk to your baby when you are breast-feeding can make your baby restless and irritable so you may need to cut down if this happens. Note – some chewing gums and medications also include caffeine, so check the labels.
Tea contains tannin, a substance that can affect the absorption of iron and other minerals. Try not to drink tea with meals – wait instead for an hour or more after eating. Opt instead for water, undiluted fruit juice or fruit teas with meals (always check the label to ensure each product is suitable for use in pregnancy). When it comes to herbal teas, no more than 2 cups a day are recommended.