It seems like every time you turn around someone is telling pregnant women to avoid something. Unfortunately, food preparation is included in the list of cautions. However, with a few simple rules, you can have a carefree and safe pregnancy.
Most pregnant women know that they are to avoid or minimize things that have little or no nutritional value, like caffeine, sweets, processed foods, etc. That still leaves much to be desired when it comes to eating safely. There are some things that can harm you, no matter what you eat, it’s more like how you eat it. Here are some things that also need to be watched for in general:
Salmonella is usually traceable to eggs and chicken meat. This means no more licking the cake batter spoon when you make a cake! You should always ensure that your eggs and meats are cooked thoroughly. When using a cutting board for chicken be sure to wash it prior to using it for another food, particularly things like raw vegetables.
Symptoms can include headache, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, shivering or fever. Usually, symptoms occur within 12-48 hours after infection and last about 2-3 days. Only if it is severe will treatment usually be necessary. Though if you’re vomiting and become dehydrated IV therapy may be beneficial.
Food most likely to be infected by listeria are unpasteurized milk products, improperly cooked meats, cooked chilled food (luncheon meat being the most recent scare), soft cheese are some of the major players. Normally this bacteria is killed at the pasteurizing temperature, but if the food is refrigerated after being infected the bacteria is still present. Rarely, but still possible for some, is transmitted through direct contact with livestock.
General aches and pains accompanied by a fever are the main symptoms. Usually, people think that they have the flu. Reports of miscarriage (including recurrent) and stillbirths have been linked to listeriosis infections spread by the mother to the unborn baby.
When people think of toxoplasmosis they usually think of cat boxes. While this can be a source of transmission, and why pregnant women should not change litter, this can also be spread through eating improperly washed, raw vegetables, particularly grown where cats use the bathroom in or near the soil. Eating raw or undercooked meat and pork is another way to get infected.
Many who own cats have probably already been infected and are not really at risk during pregnancy. The symptoms are generally flu-like, so they go fairly unnoticed. Contact your midwife or doctor for a blood titer to see if you’re already immune or if you’ve been exposed.
This form of food poisoning is fairly rare but very serious. Improperly stored or canned foods are the largest source of infections in humans.
Tips to Eat Safely During Pregnancy
With a few handy tips, you can make your kitchen a safe place, not only for pregnancy but for your entire family as well.
- Never eat raw meat or eggs
- Always wash your hands after preparing food, between foods, and after the restroom
- Avoid contaminating foods with each other
- Always use clean utensils and cooking equipment
- Avoid dented cans
- Eat or drink only pasteurized products, including apple juice
- Completely defrost foods, especially meats, prior to cooking
- Do not refreeze anything that has been defrosted
- Reheat food only once, then toss it