During pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding you have to take extra care with regard to some foods because of their potential risk to the baby:
Salmonella bacteria are a common cause of food poisoning and some eggs can be contaminated with salmonella. Therefore:
- eat only eggs that are cooked until both the egg white and yolk are solid.
- avoid dishes containing raw or partly cooked eggs, including mayonnaise, mousse, soufflés, ice cream, egg custard and some tarts.
- avoid also soft whipped ice creams.
Remember to always check the ingredients on the nutrition label.
Avoid the following foods which can have high levels of listeria:
- soft ripened cheese, including Brie and Camembert.
- blue veined cheese, including Danish Blue and Blue Stilton.
- all unpasteurised dairy products.
- ready prepared salads, including coleslaw and prewashed salad leaves.
- all types of pâté, including vegetable.
- take-away meals which may have been re-heated inadequately.
Avoid the following foods which contain high levels of vitamin A:
- liver and liver products such as pâté.
- supplements containing vitamin A, high-dose multivitamins or fish liver oils.
You do need some vitamin A in your diet, however high levels can cause harm to your developing baby, for further information click here.
Raw or undercooked meat
Make sure all meat is well cooked, especially poultry and products made from minced meat, such as sausages and burgers.
Make sure these are cooked until they are piping hot all the way through and no pink meat is left.
If you are trying to conceive, are pregnant or are breastfeeding you should avoid drinking alcohol. However, if you do choose to drink, to protect your baby, you should drink no more than 1 or 2 units of alcohol, once or twice a week and do not get drunk.
For further information on alcohol in pregnancy click here
Too much caffeine may increase the risk of early miscarriage. Caffeine containing food and drinks should therefore be kept to a minimum. This includes coffee, cola drinks, 'energy' drinks, tea and chocolate.
An average daily limit would be 2 cups of coffee or 3-4 cups of tea.
If you would like to eat peanuts or foods containing peanuts (such as peanut butter) during pregnancy, you can choose to do so as part of a healthy balanced diet, unless you yourself are allergic to them or unless your health professional advises you not to.
You may have heard that some women, in the past, have chosen not to eat peanuts when they are pregnant. This is because the Government previously advised women that they may wish to avoid eating peanuts during pregnancy if there was a history of allergy in their child’s immediate family (such as asthma, eczema, hayfever, food allergy or other types of allergy). But this advice has now been changed because the latest research has shown that there is no clear evidence to say that eating or not eating peanuts during pregnancy affects the chances of your baby developing a peanut allergy.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should discuss these with your GP, midwife, health visitor or other health professional.
If you choose to avoid eating peanuts or foods containing peanuts during pregnancy, you can do so by reading the ingredients list on food labels, where peanut must be declared by law if it is an ingredient.
Some types of fish
Avoid eating shark, marlin and swordfish and limit the amount of tuna you eat, as these types of fish contain high levels of mercury, which can damage your baby’s developing nervous system. Limit tuna to two steaks or four cans per week. This also applies if you are breastfeeding.
Avoid raw shellfish, for example oysters, as it can sometimes contain harmful bacteria and viruses causing food poisoning. Cooked shellfish e.g. prawns are okay to eat.
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite found in meat, cat faeces and soil. The infection can cause your baby to have seizures, jaundice or brain defects, and can be fatal. Therefore, you should always wash fruit, vegetables and salads to remove traces of soil, wash all surfaces, utensils and hands after preparing raw meat, and wear gloves when gardening or changing cat litter.
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