Recommended foods for pregnant women

When you’re pregnant, you’re eating for two or maybe more. But choosing the right foods can be confusing. Some common foods can pose a risk to your unborn baby. Here are some recommendations on what to eat and what to pass.

Pregnant women have plenty to worry about. Now doctors say diet concerns go beyond caffeine and alcohol.

Obstetrician/gynecologist Constance Bohon, M.D., says, “It’s a different world. There are different things that we know now.”

Dr. Bohon says the list of foods to avoid during pregnancy has grown. One that surprises many is processed meats like deli meats and hot dogs. Another no-no is soft cheeses such as feta or brie, raw meat and unpasteurized milk.

The problem is the bacteria called listeria. Pregnant women have 20-times the risk of falling ill with listeriosis from contaminated food. It can even cause miscarriage.

“If [pregnant women] really feel like they need to have some type of deli meat, they just need to be very sure they cook it to the point that it’s steaming,” says Dr. Bohon.

While fish is considered a healthy food, pregnant women should avoid big fish such as shark and swordfish. Their high mercury levels can damage the baby’s nervous system.

Dr. Bohon says, “The big fish eat the smaller fish so there is more mercury that they consume, because they’re eating the more smaller fish that have the mercury.”

Other recommended foods on a pregnant woman’s avoid list should include sushi, herbal teas, and unpasteurized milk or juice, like those found at fairs and festivals.

Dr. Bohon says the risks are small but they are real.

Pregnant women are encouraged to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and limit fish intake to 12 ounces per week. A serving of calcium at every meal is also recommended.

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