Many women think they have to swear off all soft cheeses during pregnancy but you can have almost anything that says "pasteurized" on the label. Pasteurization is the process of heating up milk to kill the bacteria that could cause food-borne illness-a concern for pregnant women because they have weakened immunity. Strict federal and state regulations make raw cheese relatively uncommon. In general, you'll only find them at farmers markets and locally from small companies. You do want to avoid cheeses with visible mold like blue cheese, brie and camembert. If you're eating out, ask your server to check cheese labels for you.
Whether it's prepackaged or sliced to order, deli meat can contain bacteria that cause illness. To kill of any potential bacteria, warm up meat, like sliced turkey, until it's steaming. If you're eating out, order heated sandwiches and make sure your meat dishes are well done.
When pregnant women eat fish, mercury travels through the placenta to the baby. In high doses, this can harm a developing nervous system. At the same time, many fish are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids which are good for a developing child's brain and eyes. This causes some confusion. Experts suggest eating fish in moderation sticking to 12 ounces per week total Avoid king mackerel, shark swordfish and tilefish because of high mercury levels. Safe bets are anchovies, pollack, wild salmon, scallops, and shrimp. If you're eating out, no sushi. Uncooked fish contains harmful bacteria that can lead to severe gastrointestinal illness.
It's ok to have one cup of coffee a day, any more than that poses a risk. When it comes to tea, use caution with anything but black and white tea. Herbal teas are untested and some are thought to bring on side effects like premature labor. When it comes to alcohol, skip it. Experts still aren't sure if any minimum amount is safe.
For more information on what foods to avoid while pregnant and other parenting tips, click here.
Amy Gorin & Erika Wortham