Sadly, it’s not just about saying no to cookie dough and sushi.
Since you're eating for two during pregnancy, food becomes a big part of your life. But some foods are off-limits because they may contain bacteria, which could harm the mother or baby.
When it comes to foodborne illnesses, the stakes are much higher for pregnant women. "Women have altered immunity during their pregnancy, which means they are more susceptible to bacteria and it's harder to fight off infection, so they tend to get sicker, too," Dr. Shilpi Mehta-Lee, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center, tells BuzzFeed Health.
Foods are typically unsafe to eat during pregnancy if they have a high risk of bacterial or parasitic contamination. The worst kind are Listeria bacteria and the Toxoplasma parasite, says Mehta-Lee, because they can easily cross through the placenta and infect the fetus, causing anything from developmental problems — like blindness — to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Other harmful bacteria include E. coli, Campylobacter, and Salmonella. These are less likely to cross the placenta and do serious harm in the womb, Mehta-Lee says, but they can make the mother severely or even fatally ill by causing prolonged diarrhea and vomiting or other complications — and that obviously isn't good for a growing fetus, either.
E! Network / Via giphy.com
Most mothers-to-be know this means giving up raw meat and eggs — but there are other less obvious risky foods that you should probably avoid during pregnancy.
The standard foods that doctors say need to be avoided include raw or undercooked meat, fish with high mercury levels, raw eggs, and unpasteurized dairy (pasteurization is a sterilizing process that kills bacteria). But some foods that have a high risk of bacterial contamination may not make the list because they aren't as obvious or popular. With our expert's help, we rounded up a list of these below.
That being said, it also isn't healthy to beat yourself up if you make a mistake. "If you accidentally eat something you weren't supposed to, don't believe that any problem in the future was 100% caused by that single exposure to a food — I see too many women feeling guilty for this reason," Mehta-Lee says. "If you get checked out and the pregnancy is still going well after you've eaten something on the banned list, just relax and try not to become overly worried or paranoid."
ABC / Via popsugar.com
Unpasteurized fruit or vegetable juice
Even though the fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juice trend is huge right now, pregnant women probably shouldn't hop on the bandwagon. "Women think these are great during pregnancy because they're healthy and full of vitamins, but what they don't realize is some juices, such as orange juice, are unpasteurized, and also the rapid chopping and juicing process allows for cross-contamination," Mehta-Lee says.
The result? Many of these seemingly harmless fruit and veggie juices have a higher risk of containing bacteria like E. coli, which can make the mother and developing fetus pretty sick.
Davidcallan / Via gettyimages.com
Lox (smoked salmon)
Most pregnant women know not to eat sushi, but smoked fish is a little less obvious since it's technically cooked through a curing process. "Cold-smoked or cured fish like salmon lox isn't heated high enough to kill certain parasites and bacteria, which can cross into the placenta and harm the pregnancy," says Mehta-Lee.
Fish should always be cooked to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit before eating if you're pregnant. So you definitely want to get your bagel without lox, no matter how tempting it looks.
Isabelpimentel / Via gettyimages.com