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Maternity Care

Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy

common-questions-1Raw meat – avoid uncooked seafood and undercooked beef or poultry due to risk of bacterial contamination, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.

Fish with mercury – avoid fish with high levels of mercury including shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. For other fish, limit consumption to two servings per week.

Smoked seafood – refrigerated, smoked seafood should be avoided due to risks of listeria contamination.

Raw shellfish – including clams, oysters, and mussels can cause bacterial infections. Cooked shrimp is safe.

Raw eggs – raw eggs or any foods containing raw eggs can be contaminated with salmonella. This includes some homemade ceasar dressings, mayonnaise, and homemade ice cream. Cook eggs thoroughly, until the yolk is firm.

Soft cheeses – imported soft cheeses may contain listeria. Soft cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe.

Unpasteurized milk – may contain listeria which can lead to miscarriage.

Pate – refrigerated pate or meat spreads should be avoided due to risks of listeria.

Caffeine – limit caffeine intake to the equivalent of 1 cup of coffee a day or less. Excess caffeine may be associated with miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in infants.

Unwashed vegetables – Wash all vegetables well to avoid exposure to toxoplasmosis which may contaminate the soil where vegetables are grown.

Deli meats – can be safely eaten if warmed to the point of steaming. Avoid spilling fluids from raw meat and hotdog packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces. In addition, wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, delicatessen meats, and raw meat (such as chicken, turkey, seafood, or their juices.)

Special Concerns

Vegetarian diet
Be sure you are getting enough protein. You will probably need to take supplements, especially iron, B12, and vitamin D.

Lactose intolerance
During pregnancy, symptoms of lactose intolerance often improve. If you are still having problems after eating or drinking dairy products, remember, calcium can also be found in cheese, yogurt, sardines, certain types of salmon, spinach, and fortified orange juice.

Artificial Sweeteners

These are OK to use but we would recommend limiting it to 1-2 servings per day. If you have diabetes, the artificial sweeteners are better than sugar to help control your blood sugars.


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