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The Foods & Drinks to Avoid During Pregnancy

For the safety and well-being of you and your baby, certain foods and drinks must be avoided during pregnancy. What an expecting woman consumes directly affects the health of the developing fetus. Taking certain precautions can help you avoid accidentally harming your growing baby.

Alcohol and Caffeine

Pregnant women should completely eliminate alcohol from their diet. No levels of alcohol are safe during pregnancy. The consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This birth defect causes mental, behavioral and physical problems. The American Pregnancy Association recommends pregnant women limit caffeine to no more than 200 milligrams per day. The consumption of caffeine during pregnancy can lead to a premature birth, miscarriage or a low birth weight. Instead, drink milk, juice or water when you are thirsty.

Seafood

Although pregnant women can eat most seafoods, some aren't safe due to their high levels of mercury contamination. Consuming too much mercury during pregnancy can lead to brain damage and developmental problems in the baby. Avoid eating shark, tilefish, king mackerel and swordfish. The American Pregnancy Association recommends pregnant women avoid eating fish from local lakes and rivers including bluefish, salmon and trout, as they are likely to be contaminated with industrial pollutants called PCBs. Also avoid refrigerated versions of smoked seafood and raw oysters.

Liver

It's recommended to avoid eating liver during pregnancy, since it contains very high levels of vitamin A. While vitamin A is required for bone growth and the development of the fetus, very high intakes of this vitamin can harm the baby.

Unpasteurized Dairy Products or Juices

Avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses such as brie, feta and Camembert and unpasteurized milk and juices, as these could cause listeriosis. Listeriosis is a food-borne infection which can lead to miscarriage, premature birth or stillbirth. Choose hard cheeses, such as mozzarella and cheddar, and pasteurized dairy products and juices, as these are less likely to be contaminated with the microbes that cause listeriosis.

Raw or Undercooked Eggs and Meats

Raw meat may contain a number of bacteria that can cause food poisoning, and undercooked eggs may be contaminated with salmonella. Getting food poisoning is particularly dangerous for your fetus, so pregnant women should ensure that fish, meat and egg products are cooked thoroughly, as this kills most of the organisms that can cause food poisoning.

Deli Meats and Meat Spreads

Deli meats and spreads are another potential source of the listeria microbes that cause listeriosis. Avoid refrigerated versions of pates and meat spreads, and only eat hot dogs, luncheon or deli meats if they have been re-heated thoroughly to limit your risk for this type of food poisoning.

Herbal Teas

Some herbal tea mixes contain herbs that can stimulate contractions or lead to a miscarriage, so ask your doctor before drinking herbal teas or taking herbal supplements, as not all of these are safe for pregnant women. Potentially unsafe ingredients include nettles, alfalfa and yellow dock.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.