It is essential that you take care when preparing foods and avoid doing certain things when pregnant. This is due to your baby’s immune system not being sufficiently developed to fight any infection you may pass to it while in the womb. It is also believed that a woman’s immune system may not function at its peak during pregnancy so it is essential that all necessary precautions be taken.
If you have a pet every time you come into contact with them you should wash your hands thoroughly.Pets can pass on harmful bacteria that may be present in their feces. You may inadvertently become infected with this by touching your mouth or other parts of your body and this may in turn infect your unborn child.
Cats are of particular importance due to toxoplasmosis found within their feces. If you have a cat that uses a litter tray it is important that someone else carries out the task of emptying the litter tray task, if this is not possible then you should wear rubber gloves and a face mask to prevent any bacteria being passed to you. This also applies to gardening when fecal matter can be found in the soil. Again, wear gloves and wash your hands as soon as possible after finishing.
This is a bacteria which develops into an illness called listeriosis. The symptoms of this are mild flu, aches and pains, sore throat and high temperatures. In the more serious of cases this can cause septicemia and meningitis in unborn babies. This is the worst case scenario. In some cases many people are not aware they have caught the bacteria as they do not show any of the above symptoms. During pregnancy, mothers have to be aware of certain foods where this bacteria may be prevalent.
This is true for after pregnancy as well, especially if you are nursing your child. The symptoms usually develop from 2 to 30 days after eating contaminated food.
Foods to Avoid
Not all cheeses contain the bacteria but there are some which can be potentially harmful to a pregnant mother.
Avoid both pasteurized and unpasteurized soft cheeses which usually have a surface mold or rind such as Brie, Camembert and Danish Blue. Also avoid cheeses coated in wax such as Gouda, Post Salut. It is best to stay clear of the majority of blue cheeses such as Stilton, Gorgonzola and Roquefort. Hard Cheeses such as Cheddar, Parmesan, and Red Leicester fall into the safe category as do softer cheeses made from pasteurized milk such as Cottage cheese, mozzarella, ricotta, processed cheese and cheese spreads. If in doubt play safe and avoid eating it.
The salmonella bacteria are most commonly found in eggs. It is best to avoid any foods made with raw or partly cooked eggs such as homemade mayonnaise, meringues, cheesecakes, sorbets or mousses. Eggs are only safe if they have been cooked long enough so that their yolks are hard. Shop-bought mayonnaise are usually safe as long as they have been made with pasteurized eggs. Always check the label if in doubt.
Avoid all products which have not been pasteurized. All pasteurized products are safe to use all through pregnancy and beyond.
Do not eat raw meat, under cooked meat or poultry. Also avoid meats which have been preserved in nitrates such as salami, frankfurters and luncheon meat. Always cook meat so the juices run clear and there is no ‘pinkness’ or blood within. When touching raw meat and poultry always wash your hands thoroughly before touching any other foods. Liver contains vitamin A in the form of retinol which if taken by a pregnant women can increase her vitamin A levels way above the recommended daily level and become damaging to the baby. Liver should be avoided as well as products containing liver such as pate and liver sausage.
Oysters and any raw or uncooked fish should be avoided. Also shelled seafood such as crab, prawns, and langoustines should be avoided unless they have been thoroughly cooked and are hot. Most seafood bought from a fishmonger or supermarket should be safe. Fresh tuna should only be eaten once a month due to the potential levels of mercury found within. This is also true for swordfish and shark. Tinned tuna contains lower levels so this is safe to eat every week.
All pre-prepared shop bought salads are best to be avoided. So too are dressed salads such as coleslaw, potato salad and Florida salad. It is best to make your own and ensure that all leaves are thoroughly washed free from soils and other deposits found on the leaves.