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Categories > Pregnancy and Childbirth > Eating right during pregnancy

Best for baby and mom

It seems like everyone has opinions about what to do or not do when you’re pregnant. After all, your baby depends on you to protect him or her. Here’s the lowdown on what you need to do to keep you and your little one safe and sound:

Watch what you eat. Pregnant women face three main food-related threats: listeria, a type of bacteria; mercury, a harmful metal; and toxoplasma, a parasite. Avoiding these dangers is as simple as avoiding certain foods:

  • raw or undercooked meat, fish and poultry, including sushi
  • swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and shark
  • refrigerated smoked seafood with labels such as nova-style, lox, kippered, smoked or jerky
  • hot dogs or luncheon meats unless heated to steaming hot
  • soft cheeses (feta, brie, Camembert, queso blanco, queso fresco or blue-veined cheeses), unless they’re labeled “pasteurized”
  • raw or unpasteurized milk or juice
  • unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean

Wash your hands before and after preparing food to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Put down the cigarette. Lighting up allows nicotine and carcinogens to be passed to your baby. It also prevents your baby from getting nourishment and increases the odds of miscarriage, preterm birth, birth defects (such as cleft lip or cleft palate) and infant death.

Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals. That includes cleaning supplies, lead and mercury (found in old pipes and faucets, and broken bulbs and thermometers, respectively), insecticides and paint (especially paint fumes).

Hand over kitty-cleaning duties. Merely changing a cat’s litter box can increase your risk for a dangerous infection called toxoplasmosis. Also avoid contact with pet rodents such as guinea pigs and hamsters, which may carry a virus that can be deadly to your baby.

Steer clear of saunas, hot tubs and very hot baths, which can harm your baby or cause you to faint.

Pass on the X-rays. Talk with your healthcare provider before getting any tests done that involve radiation.

Be cautious with medications. Certain medications, such as some that treat skin disorders, are unsafe during pregnancy, while the safety of others, such as herbal remedies, is unknown. If you take over-the-counter or prescription medications, talk with your healthcare provider.