From the strange cravings that may present, to off-limits items, and the idea of “eating for two,” it’s safe to say that a woman’s relationship to food changes while she’s pregnant. Unfortunately, a few Internet myths paired with the two cents from friends’ and families’ causes many women to feel unsure about what to eat during pregnancy.

“It’s true: Yes, you are actually eating for two when you’re pregnant. However, the additional calorie requirements might not be as high as you’d think they would be. Within the first trimester, a normal, healthy woman only requires about 1,800 calories per day. This requirement increases to 2,200 calories per day in the second trimester, and then to 2,400 calories in the third trimester. A breastfeeding woman, in comparison, requires an additional 500 calories per day.” 

Valerie Ulm, DO

OB/GYN, Trinity Medical WNY

First and foremost, if ever in doubt, talk to your OB/GYN. Secondly, it’s important to be motivated, not intimidated, by this idea of “eating for two.” 

It’s reassuring to know that what most people think of as a well-balanced diet shouldn’t change in the next nine months. Fuel the body with what you need to feel your best – multi-grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, different sources of protein, and little to no artificial sugars. 

Please note that it is not safe for a woman to attempt to diet or lose weight while pregnant. Keep the focus on nutrition, and taking care of your body.

Foods to Avoid While Pregnant

While there’s a lot of information on this topic available, here’s your definitive list of the foods you should avoid during pregnancy. 

Women should know that pregnancy compromises the immune system of both mom and baby. Certain foods that may contain harmful bacteria carry a higher risk because of this. Other items have been proven to cause birth defects. 

Any raw fish, like sushi or sashimi.

Much of the seafood we have in Western New York is imported from other areas of the world, where it sometimes isn’t monitored for mercury content. If you’re a big sushi fan, please note that it’s perfectly safe to eat vegetable rolls while pregnant.

Darker fish, including catfish, swordfish, and dark tuna should be avoided as well. Light and white tuna, on the other hand, can still be part of your diet.

Additional fish products.

Other seafood favorites, such as shrimp, lobster, crab, salmon, and scallops, should be limited to no more than 8 oz. per week. Again, this is so that any mercury intake remains low.

For reference, one of Buffalo’s beloved dishes, a fish fry, is about 8 oz. If you’re enjoying a Friday fish fry once every week while pregnant, you have no reason to worry.

Alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol has been proven to cause birth defects and health problems for developing babies. Avoid it at all costs while pregnant.

Unpasteurized dairy products.

This may apply to those in the habit of buying dairy directly from the farm, or your local farmers market. This is because the pasteurization process at smaller farms might not be as thorough.

Thankfully, most products that line our grocery store shelves are indeed pasteurized. When in doubt, check the label.

Refrigerated deli meats.

It’s not the meat itself, but the cold temperature it’s stored at! Harmful bacteria that carry foodborne illnesses can survive in colder temps. Think of fresh-from-the-deli slices of turkey and ham, which are usually stored in refrigeration.

Heat kills the bacteria that we’re worried about, so make sure all the meat you’re eating is heated up and cooked through.

Caffeine.

There is a very low risk that having one, small-sized caffeinated beverage (8-12 oz.) per day would disrupt your pregnancy. Still, caffeine is a stimulant, and it does cross the placenta between you and the developing baby. Speak to your OB/GYN about safe caffeine consumption, and remember that caffeinated beverages include sodas and teas. 

Never Be Afraid to Ask

If you’re ever unsure whether or not something is “safe” for you and your baby, error on the side of caution and choose something else. You should never be afraid to reach out or follow up with your OB/GYN office later on and ask.

Find an OB/GYN Near You
Call (716) 923-7152

Find an OB/GYN Near You
Call (716) 923-7152