By NUH Women’s Centre
Every woman should have a well-balanced diet during her pregnancy to ensure that she has the necessary nutrients and energy to accommodate the body’s changes throughout the pregnancy, and to provide the baby with the essential elements required for a healthy growth.
There are certain varieties of food one should avoid in pregnancy, because they can be potentially dangerous to the baby. The list of cautions also includes methods of food preparation. However, it is still possible to have a safe and carefree pregnancy despite these dietary restrictions.
Raw food, especially meat should be avoided. This is especially important with poultry and products made from minced meat, such as sausages and burgers. Make sure these are cooked until they are piping hot and no pink meat is left. Always wash your hands after handling raw meat, and keep it separate from cooked foods that are readily edible. This is because raw meat contains bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
All types of pâtés (a spread of finely chopped or pureed seasoned meat) should be avoided as these potentially contain a type of bacteria called Listeria, which can cause miscarriage or severe illness in newborns.
Liver is a rich source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential but you need to ensure that excess quantities are not taken during pregnancy as it will harm the baby if high levels build up. Thus, it is advisable to avoid liver, liver products and fish liver oil.
Most types of fish can be consumed during pregnancy. However, there are a few types you should avoid, and some others where you should limit the amount of consumption.
Oily fish, for example, fresh tuna (excluding canned tuna), mackerel, sardine and trout, are good for one's health, but it is highly recommended to ration the amount eaten during pregnancy to two portions per week. This is because oily fish contains pollutants like dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This is especially so for tuna which also contains high levels of mercury and can have a damaging effect on the baby's developing nervous system. Mercury is also found in shark, swordfish and marlin, and these should be avoided.
Keep away from raw shellfish during pregnancy, because it may contain harmful bacteria and viruses that cause food poisoning. This would be particularly unpleasant during pregnancy.
For more information, you may contact the Women's Clinic at (65) 6772 2255 / 2277, or email us at Womens_Clinic@nuhs.edu.sg.
This featured article is contributed by the NUH Women’s Centre, National University Hospital.