Pregnancy is one sensitive phase in a woman's life. Eating the wrong foods during this period can pose a threat to the health of the woman and her unborn child. Therefore, it’s significant for pregnant women to eat a healthy diet.

Every pregnant woman is expected to be careful of the kinds of foods and drinks she consumes during this period. Certain foods should only be consumed rarely, while others should be completely avoided.

Here are some foods to avoid during pregnancy:

These foods can be very harmful to the mother and child if ingested. Avoiding some foods ensures that you and your baby are safe and healthy. It is important to maintain a healthy diet that will guarantee a smooth and healthy time of pregnancy.

1. Raw fish e.g Sushi

The immune system is suppressed during pregnancy, so it is easier to get sick from food. Raw fish can cause several bacterial and parasitic infections which can cause adverse health effects and harm both the mother and the unborn baby.

2. Raw Eggs e.g in cake icing

The problem with consuming raw eggs is because there’s a high risk of it being contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella infections may not affect the baby, but the symptoms are usually experienced by the mother.

Symptoms may include stomach cramps, diarrhoea, fever, nausea, and/or vomiting. Salmonella infection may cause cramps in the uterus, which may lead to premature birth or stillbirth. Foods that commonly contain raw eggs include salad dressings, poached eggs, lightly scrambled eggs, cake icings, hollandaise sauce, homemade ice-cream, and mayonnaise.

Most commercial products that contain raw eggs are made with pasteurized eggs and are safe to consume. However, you should always read the label to make sure.

Pregnant women should always cook eggs thoroughly or use pasteurized eggs.

3. High mercury fish

Mercury is poisonous and all pregnant women should avoid eating this. Fish that contain mercury include tuna and mackerel.

4. Alcohol

Pregnant women are advised to completely avoid drinking alcohol, as it increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Even a small amount can negatively impact your baby's brain development.

It can also cause alcohol dependency syndrome which causes facial deformity in the child or mental retardation.

5. Crabs

Crab is loaded with nutrients, but they lead to a shrinking of the uterus. This could snowball into genital bleeding or miscarriage.

Crabs have a high amount of cholesterol. Therefore, pregnant women suffering from high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia should avoid it.

6. Undercooked and Processed Meat

A pregnant woman can be exposed to several bacteria or parasite infections by consuming undercooked, raw, or processed meat. The bacterial infection from these meats may affect the unborn baby, possibly leading to stillbirth or severe neurological deformity.

Some bacteria are found on the surface of whole pieces of meat, while others may linger inside the muscle fibres.

Meat patties, minced meat, burgers, pork, and poultry, should never be eaten raw or undercooked. Also, you should avoid hot dogs, lunch meat, and deli meat. These meats may get infected with various bacteria during processing or storage. Pregnant women should ensure their meat is thoroughly cooked before eating.

7. Caffeine

High caffeine intake could increase the chances of miscarriage and the low weight of a child. Caffeine is found in tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. Some studies have shown that caffeine can cause premature birth. Other drinks to avoid include soft drinks, diet cola, and other carbonated drinks.

8. Processed Junk Foods

Pregnant women need increased amounts of many vital nutrients, including iron, folate, and protein; all of these are lacking in junk foods.

An ideal pregnancy diet should consist of whole foods, with lots of nutrients for both mother and her growing fetus.

Some women crave junk food when they are pregnant. This contains extra calories that the body does not require. They contain high sugar that can increase the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

During pregnancy, the body requires proteins and iron.

9. Certain fruits and Veggies

These foods, in particular, should be avoided completely: Papaya, which is rich in latex that could lead to uterine contractions, black grapes which build heat in the body that is harmful to the baby, pineapple because it is rich in bromelain that could soften the cervix leading to early labour, cabbage, and lettuce as they carry foodborne illnesses, and eggplant, for its property of stimulating menses which may lead to abortion.

10. Unpasteurized Milk, Cheese and Fruit Juice

Unpasteurized cheese, raw milk, and juice can contain harmful bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter.

These infections can all have fatal consequences for an unborn child. Pasteurization helps to destroy any harmful bacteria, without necessarily altering the nutritional value of the products.

To reduce the risk of infections, pregnant women are advised to consume only pasteurized milk, cheese, and fruit juice.

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