Advice on the foods you should try to avoid during pregnancy and when breastfeeding to help protect your baby's health.
When you are pregnant, you will come across a lot of advice about what you should or shouldn't eat. Although this advice is usually research based, you may not be able to follow it either because of your personal tastes and preferences, or perhaps because of the cost. Other information about diet may catch the attention of the media although the evidence to support this may not always be authoritative.
Women frequently have to decide which advice they can follow and it may be that their personal circumstances will impact on these decisions. For example, a woman who eats a vegetarian diet will have to find alternative sources of iron, as she cannot obtain this from eating red meat. Where this is the case, a woman can be left feeling guilty and anxious that she has not done the best for her baby.
There is now reliable information about foods to avoid when you are pregnant and breastfeeding.
Liver and vitamin A supplements. Very high intakes of one form of vitamin A (retinol, found in liver, liver pate and sausage, fish liver oils and some supplements) have been linked with the baby being born with birth defects. The other form of vitamin A is called 'beta carotene' and this is safe to take in pregnancy, but always check with your doctor or midwife before taking any vitamin A supplements.
The Department of Health suggests that you may choose not to eat peanuts or peanut products while you are pregnant, especially if you or your baby's father or any brothers or sisters have a history of allergies. Studies suggest that a baby can develop peanut allergy before birth or while breastfeeding, but the evidence is uncertain.
A survey by the Food Standards Agency has found high levels of mercury in some fish. As mercury can affect the developing nervous system of the unborn baby, it is advised to limit the amount of tuna you eat to two medium cans or a single fresh steak a week and to completely avoid swordfish, marl in and shark This applies when you are planning a pregnancy, actually pregnant or breastfeeding.
Listeria is a bacteria that grows in some specific foods and can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or serious illness in the newborn baby. Other bacteria such as salmonella can also cause serious illness to you and your baby. While hard cheeses are mostly safe to eat in pregnancy, it is advised to avoid soft mould-ripened cheeses like Camembert, Brie and all blue-veined cheeses. You should also avoid eating all types of pate and oven-ready meals that are uncooked or undercooked as well as raw or part-cooked eggs.
Studies show that high levels of caffeine are linked with miscarriage and stillbirth. It is better to choose decaffeinated drinks or keep to no more three cups of brewed coffee or four cups/three mugs of instant coffee.
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