Pregnancy comes with a lot of perks including a lot more pampering, massages from your partner and even getting to reinvent your wardrobe for you and your little bundle of joy! However, there are also some downsides, such as being told that you can't indulge in your favourite foods for a good portion of the year. This becomes especially hard during the festive season when you're going to more parties and gatherings and being presented with all these delicious meals that you can't touch!
Why do expectant mums need to avoid certain foods?
When you're pregnant, your immune system isn't as strong as it normally would be. Even if you've always had an iron stomach, your weakened immune system is more susceptible to getting food-borne illnesses from bacteria that are more likely to be in certain foods – becoming a risk to yourself and your baby . Dangerous bacteria and parasites lurk in food that hasn't been cooked, stored or processed correctly – which is why many experts recommend you steer clear of certain foods.
So what should you stay away from?
Cocktails & AlcoholAccording to health experts, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, Food and Drug Administration, as well as a lot of other professional health organisations – no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. While it may be tempting, try to avoid it. Instead, you can opt for choices such as Cranberry juice with soda water, and other mocktails.
Even for eggnogs without brandy or whisky, there are still risks involved. If you're unsure whether or not eggnog has been pasteurised, it is best to avoid it. However, there are some good, packaged Eggnog brands out there that are alcohol-free and use pasteurised ingredients – just be sure to check the labels first!
While eating meat is fine, the way that this meat is cooked and stored is a different story. All meat that you eat should be fresh off the grill or pan with an internal temperature reading of over 60 degrees Celsius. If the temperature is any lower, this is usually when bacteria starts to fester. To be safe, it's best to eat meats that are on a hot plate or freshly cooked.
Holidays spreads often contain imported soft cheese such as Camembert, Brie or Blue Cheese. Unless you are certain that these were not made with raw milk – you should avoid this at all costs. Raw milk can contain Listeria, which is disease-causing bacteria. And whilst Listeria poisoning is rare, pregnant women are 13 times more likely to develop an infection from it. Hard cheeses are fine though, so you can top up a cracker with Gouda, Cheddar or Parmesan!
While it's a quick and convenient way of filling up the food table, pre-made salads or sandwiches from your local deli, especially those containing protein such as eggs, milk, chicken or ham – are riskier to eat if you aren't aware of how it was prepared or handled. These items usually have a greater risk of contamination from bacteria such as Listeria or Salmonella, bringing unnecessary risks to you and your baby.
Many holidays spreads sit at room temperature for more than 2-hours, making it the perfect breeding place for bacteria. Unless you've put it in the fridge soon after you finish eating – there is a higher chance that bacteria have started to grow, so it's probably best to avoid it!
When it comes to the festive season, it can be difficult to see a huge selection of foods, but having to avoid most of them. But there is still so much that you can eat! The most important thing is just to be conscious of how this food is being prepared. Stay away from raw foods, food that has been out for too long, hot foods that have gone cold or cold food that have gone warm! And remember, it won't be long until you can indulge in whatever you like again!