Your baby needs certain vitamins to develop and grow. For example, folic acid is vital for cell division. It’s been scientifically proven to reduce birth defects and decrease the risk of premature birth. The crazy part is, our body doesn’t produce folic acid on its own, you have to make sure it is in your diet.
Folic acid is a really great example of why nutrition is so important for your baby. But nutrition is also incredibly important for you. Getting the right vitamins can prevent morning sickness, ease that backache and boost your energy levels. I cannot stress how important nutrition is!
The foods that you should be avoiding are just as important as what you should be trying to eat more of, so here are the basics of what you should avoid. Remember, if you’re ever in doubt about whether or not you can eat something, then you should contact your GP.
Avoid: Cured cold meats, such as Parma ham, chorizo, salami and pepperoni, which have not been cooked. Any raw or undercooked meat. Meat should have no traces of blood or any pink.
Take care to prepare meat hygienically and make sure it is thoroughly cooked, i.e. steaming hot through and no longer pink. Undercooked meat, especially sausages and burgers, could transmit toxoplasmosis and cause food poisoning.
While hen eggs are fine, non-hen eggs, such as duck and quail eggs, should always be cooked thoroughly.
Good: Hard cheeses and soft processed cheeses made from pasteurised milk, such as cottage cheese, feta, ricotta, mascarpone, cream
Avoid: Soft cheeses with white rinds, such as brie, camembert and soft goats’ cheese; blue veined cheeses such as Danish blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton and Roquefort.
You can have any amount of white fish. Cooked shellfish and smoked fish are also considered OK to eat in pregnancy.
Avoid: Shark, swordfish or marlin can contain high levels of mercury which could affect a baby’s nervous system. Also avoid more than two portions of oily fish a week, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, fresh tuna and herring, because they can contain pollutants.
Avoid raw shellfish, such as oysters, mussels, scallops and clams, as they could be contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses or toxins.
Too much caffeine can increase the chance of a miscarriage slightly, with recent research suggesting that when trying for a baby, both women and men should limit their caffeine intake. It is recommended that you have no more than 200mg of caffeine a day during pregnancy. As a guide:
• 1 mug of instant coffee (100mg)
• 1 mug of tea (67mg)
• 1 can of energy drink (up to 80mg)
A number of medicines such as cold and flu remedies also contain caffeine.
Liver and Pate
Avoid: Liver and foods with liver in them, such as liver pâté, liver sausage or haggis, are not recommended as they may contain a lot of vitamin A, which has been associated with birth defects though very rarely. Fresh pate, including vegetable, can contain listeria so it’s best to avoid it.