As modern medicine constantly gets more advanced, we get to understand more about the body than our ancestors could have ever known. New research methods have grown exponentially in the past 20 years. Sometimes this understanding leads to important advances—learning that smoking cigarettes is bad for you, as an example—but sometimes it also leads to misinformation. The rules regarding things women can and can’t do during pregnancy seem to be ever-shifting. If you’ve had three babies over 10 years, you might have heard different rules during each pregnancy. While it may seem like you keep hearing about foods that you can’t eat while pregnant, here are five foods that you may have heard were bad but you actually can eat (provided you obey some simple caveats).
1) Soft Cheeses
It has long been said that pregnant women should avoid soft cheeses like camembert and brie for fear of them carrying the listeria bacteria. While listeria is definitely something you want to avoid as listeriosis can cause miscarriage or premature delivery, you may be able to eat your soft cheese without the risk. As long as your cheese is made from pasteurized milk, it is fine to eat according to the FDA. Almost all cheeses sold in the U.S. are made with pasteurized milk, but you should never assume that to be true. Make sure to check all labels of foods you are considering, but as long as the milk is pasteurized, feel free to have some brie on your crackers and some feta in your salad.
2) Deli Meats
Another food that has a reputation for needing to be avoided during pregnancy is the deli meat. Another possible harbor for listeria, deli meats should be avoided when they are cold. If you heat them up, however, it will kill the bacteria. Get your sandwich prepared, and then pop it in the microwave or toaster oven. Heat up the meat until it is steaming, and it will be safe for you and your baby.
Yes, you should avoid raw fish while pregnant, but there are many kinds of sushi rolls that contain cooked fish. In fact, there are some that contain no fish at all. If you are going to have sushi, stick to cooked fish. Also, be sure to avoid the fish that are especially high in mercury, including swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tilefish. You can have limited amounts of tuna, but don’t overdo it.
4) Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
There have long been conflicting reports about whether it is safe to eat fresh produce while pregnant for fear that it could contain E. coli, salmonella, or other dangerous bacteria. Recent consensus seems to indicate, however, that eating fresh fruits and vegetables is not only okay but highly encouraged as long as you take the proper precautions to make sure they are clean. Thoroughly wash anything you intend to consume, whether it claims to have already been washed or not. Even if you are eating a fruit without the skin, such as an orange, you should still wash the peel so that you don’t transfer the germs from the outside into the fruit while you are peeling it.
While not really a food, many women go through withdrawals if deprived from their daily cup of coffee. Caffeine should be avoided in large doses, but studies have shown that the amount of caffeine in one or two cups of coffee a day won’t harm the baby. You may still have to cut back if you are a heavy coffee-drinker, but you won’t have to go cold turkey.