It’s important for pregnant women to watch what they eat and drink throughout their pregnancy. Below are some tips on what to avoid when pregnant. 1. Raw or undercooked food. Dr. Aquino advises against raw and undercooked food to avoid stomach illness and bacterial contamination, especially salmonella. Stay away from raw eggs, meat, and fish, especially shellfi sh like oysters and clams. 2. Alcohol. Drinking beverages with high alcohol levels has been associated with premature delivery, mental retardation in the baby, congenital defects, and low birth weight. 3. Nicotine. Pregnant women are also advised to shun smoking—first-hand or second-hand. According to Murkoff, Eisenberg, and Hathaway, “it is well documented that smoking during pregnancy, particularly beyond the third month, is hazardous.” 4. Caffeine, fat, and cholesterol. Caffeine is known to inhibit iron absorption, so it’s wise to take your iron at least one to three hours before or after intake of caffeine-rich drinks or food. The use of saccharin is also strongly discouraged during pregnancy because it can cross the placenta and may remain in fetal tissues. It’s also a good idea to cut down on sugar to prevent from gaining too much weight. 5. Some fish variants with mercury. Fish that contain high levels of mercury should also be avoided. These include shark, swordfi sh, king mackerel, and tilefi sh or white snapper. 6. Certain cheeses. When buying cheese, go for hard cheeses, processed cheese, cream cheese, and cottage cheese. Yogurt is safe to eat, too. Soft cheeses like feta, brie, camembert, blue cheese, and Mexican style cheeses are often unpasteurized and may cause Listeria infection.
Sources: • Prudence Aquino-Aquino, M.D., F.P.O.G.S, obstetrician-gynecologist and Vice-Chief of the Menopause Clinic, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Quezon City • What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway (Third Edition, 1997) • Vegetarian Diets in Pregnancy by the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group (1996) • Websites: mamashealth.com; womenone.org; eatwell.gov.uk; webmd.com