Proper nutrition during pregnancy is key to promoting healthy development of the fetus as well as managing weight gain. And while most foods are considered safe during pregnancy, consumption of some foods should be reduced or avoided.
While obstetricians strongly suggest that women who are pregnant eat fish rich with Omega 3s, such as salmon, about once a week, other fish that is heavily exposed to mercury should not be consumed. This includes swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish. Tuna, which has lower levels of mercury, should be eaten in moderation. If fish is not appetizing, a daily fish oil supplement is a good alternative.
Though rare, processed deli meats, smoked seafood and unpasteurized soft cheeses may carry bacteria called listeria that can be harmful to the fetus. Checking to see that cheese is pasteurized, and eating these foods in moderation is recommended. Undercooked and uncooked meats and seafood, raw shellfish and raw eggs can also be dangerous due to bacteria like salmonella. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly rinsed under running water, and after handling raw foods, wash hands, cutting and preparation surfaces, utensils and dishes with hot, soapy water.
Caffeine consumption should be reduced as much as possible, as some studies have shown a link to increased miscarriage. If it cannot be avoided, no more than 300 mg should be consumed daily. And alcohol is not considered safe at any point in a pregnancy, so expectant mothers should avoid alcohol completely.
For complete dietary advice and guidelines, pregnant women should consult their physicians as part of their prenatal care.
Dr. Michael Urig is chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor, or call Urig’s Ahwatukee Foothills office at (480) 759-9191.