Foods to avoid while pregnant or trying to get pregnant

By: Sep 03, 2012
what to avoid while pregnant

A healthy diet is important both before and during pregnancy.

When you’re trying to conceive, you probably want to take every possible precaution to ensure a smooth conception, gestation and delivery. Most of us are quite familiar with what we should be eating – such as a multi-vitamin with folic acid, plenty of fruits and vegetables and lean protein sources such as chicken or turkey. However, many of us are in the dark about what to avoid both when we are trying to get pregnant and when actually pregnant.

Animal Products
Raw meat or fish of any kind is unfortunately (for the sushi lovers) a no-no. Raw food carries the risk of carrying bacteria such as salmonella and toxoplasmosis. All meat should be cooked thoroughly. So this means no more medium-rare steaks.

Certain types of fish are not safe for a pregnant woman. Some fish have higher levels of mercury, which is correlated with brain damage and developmental issues in young children. Fish to avoid include swordfish, shark, tuna and king mackerel.

Soft cheese should generally be avoided. These may contain listeria, bacteria that can cause an infection while pregnant or even life-threatening blood poisoning. Some cheeses to avoid include feta, brie, Roquefort and camembert.

Deli meat has also been linked with listeria. If you can’t live without your salami sandwiches, you might be able to kill the bacteria by heating the meat in the microwave until it is steaming. Of course the best practice would be to avoid deli meat all together.

Caffeine is debatably to be avoided or at least minimized during pregnancy. Interestingly, caffeine may also affect fertility. It may prevent the egg from reaching full maturity. This research is still hotly debated, but the best practice for someone trying to get pregnant is to minimize caffeine to under 300mg per day.

Alcohol is usually the first thing that pregnant women cut out of their diets. However, if you are trying to conceive it’s a good idea to cut alcohol out now. Not only could it inhibit your ability to conceive, those few glasses of wine are not worth the potential birth defects including your child having a small head, learning disabilities, low IQ and hyperactivity. Many women don’t find out they are pregnant until weeks after conception so it’s best to omit alcohol from your diet the second you decide to try for a baby.

Soy products have been linked with lower fertility. It’s probably not necessary to completely cut soy out of your diet (especially for vegans and the lactose intolerant), but if you are experiencing fertility issues it might be wise to limit consumption.

For the best chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy (and child), try sticking to a simple diet. Choose a “well done” steak over “rare”, opt for sparkling apple juice over wine and minimize your coffee intake. The result will not only be faster conception, but quite likely an easier pregnancy. Abiding by these dietary rules will undoubtedly result in a healthier child, too.