During pregnancy, health and proper nutrition become the focal points of life. Both, the mother and the baby’s well-being are crucial, and a lot of discussion and debate has been made on the foods to avoid during pregnancy. These are some of the foods that may adversely affect the health and development of your baby and may also pose a risk to you during this sensitive and susceptible time.

1.      NO Alcohol

The first and foremost among the foods to avoid during pregnancy is alcohol. Depending upon the quantity and pattern of consumption, drinking alcohol may cause a condition known as ‘Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’, which results in many developmental disorders in the various stages of the baby’s growth. Alcohol should also be avoided while breastfeeding, since it is also harmful for infants.

2.      Avoid Raw Eggs

Raw eggs, as well as the products prepared using raw eggs, increase the risk of being infected or exposed to ‘Salmonella’, a bacterium that causes digestive problems such as typhoid. Always cook the eggs thoroughly so that the yolk is not runny and the egg whites are also firm. The cooking process will destroy any salmonella present.  When in the supermarket, however, do see the labels on salad dressings and ice-creams, because some of them are prepared using pasteurized eggs, making them safe to eat.

3.      Steer Clear of Soft Cheeses

Pertinent to the foods to avoid during pregnancy is soft cheese, such as feta, cottage, blue cheese, ricotta, and virtually any cheese that is made using unpasteurized or raw milk.  These types of cheese contain the bacteria ‘Listeria’, which may be cause severe complications in the development of the fetus, and may also elicit miscarriage or premature birth. The other bacteria found in unpasteurized milk may also cause food poisoning. Thus, stick to cheese that is prepared from pasteurized milk only, such as cheddar and parmesan.

4.      Lower your Caffeine Intake

Limit your caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day, which is about 4 cups per day, and strictly no more than that. Some studies have linked the consumption of caffeine to miscarriages, premature birth, and also low birth weight. Being a diuretic, caffeine triggers the body to remove excess fluids, which may lead to dehydration and calcium loss. Thus, it is always a better option to opt for good old water instead of any beverage to make up for water loss, especially during pregnancy.

5.      Cook Meat Thoroughly

Raw or under-cooked meat should always be avoided, but even more so during pregnancy.  Consumption and even contact with raw meat may transmit ‘Salmonella’, ‘Coliform’ and ‘E.coli’ bacterial infections. Certain intrauterine parasitic infections may also be transmitted, like ‘toxoplasmosis. Always make sure that the meat is cooked all the way through and that there are no pink or bloody bits left. Also always defrost meat properly before cooking, and try not to consume even cold cooked meat.

6.      Don’t opt for Liver

Liver is almost always seen on the list of foods to avoid during pregnancy. It is known to contain very high amounts of Vitamin A (Retinol), which may be dangerous for the growing baby.

7.      Choose Fish Wisely

The issue with most of the fish available is the dangerous levels of mercury adsorbed in their fatty tissues. Mercury may cause developmental issues and brain damage to the fetus. Sushi, Tuna, Shark, Mackerel, Swordfish are among the fish that should be strictly avoided during pregnancy. Raw seafood should also be avoided, since it can also be harmful for the baby’s developing nervous system as well as cause food-poisoning. It is a safer option, thus, to limit seafood consumption altogether during pregnancy.