Pregnancy can be a difficult time. As well as hormonal and physical changes occurring, many women also struggle with their appetites. It's different for everyone, but the sickness and dehydration typically associated with the first trimester can cause a loss of appetite for some women. However, as the baby grows and develops, the food cravings can start and, especially for those who are usually very active, many women find that they eat more as the pregnancy affects their mobility and energy levels.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet during this period is vital for both mother and baby, and some types of food should be avoided.
Raw or Undercooked Eggs and Meat
Raw or undercooked eggs carry the risk of salmonella, a dangerous form of food poisoning. This can cause vomiting, nausea, dehydration and diarrhoea, and the shock on the body can even cause preterm labour. Raw eggs can be more common than most people realise, as it is found in the likes of cookie and cake batters, salad dressings and some improperly cooked meals, like egg fried rice.
Undercooked meats carry similar risks. Pink or bloody meat, such as chicken, pork, fish and red meats, should be cooked throughly. The risks of eating and handling raw meat can lead to salmonella, e.coli and toxoplasmosis, all of which can cause harmful flu-like symptoms if contracted. Caution should be taken with cured deli meats too, like Parma ham, as they can also cause food poisoning.
Soft Cheeses and Pâtés
Listeria is a type of bacteria that can be caught from eating contaminated foods. Soft and blue-veined cheeses, such as feta, stilton and brie, as well as vegetable and meat pâtés are susceptible to the contamination, and the bacteria can be passed on to the baby if a pregnant women contracts it. Listeria can be hard to detect as the mother may not show any symptoms, but it can lead to premature or stillborn births, as well as health problems for the baby.
Too Much Fish
Fish is a healthy choice of meat as it contains good oils and fats, as well as being an essential source of protein. However, some types of fish, like tuna, mackerel and shark, contain mercury. Portions of these types of fish should be limited as overconsumption can cause mercury poisoning which can lead to developmental problems for unborn babies, as it affects their nervous system. Raw seafood, like oysters and sushi, should also be avoided as they can cause food poisoning.
Caffeine is perhaps the hardest thing to avoid when pregnant. Most people have their morning cup of coffee to perk them up or a few cups to get through the workday. You don't have to give it up completely, but doctor's advise limiting caffeine intake to 200mg a day (2 cups of coffee). Caffeine has been linked to low birth weights and miscarriages in pregnancies when the mother drank excessive amounts of the stimulant. Opt for decaffeinated instead, or brew your tea for shorter amounts of time.
Claire is a freelance writer who has supplied this article on behalf of Bundles of Joy who supply a range of quality baby gifts. They are based in North Hants, UK.