This post is slightly off-topic but it seems a lot of my friends have fallen pregnant lately, and some of the questions and comments they've been sharing are pretty familiar. And I thought if they were raising these questions and I had raised these questions, then quite possibly a lot of other people would have these questions too. So I thought I'd share what I discovered in case you or someone you know might find it handy.
So first of all, hey Mama! Congratulations!
And secondly, arg! How annoying is that 'pregnancy elimination diet'!?! That gigantic list of things you're not supposed to eat when you're carrying around a little one inside you, that miraculously as soon as you CAN'T eat them you really, really want to? Yeah that one.
Of course deciding what you will and won't eat while you are pregnant is completely your decision, and I'm not here to judge. But in case you found this entire field as tricky to navigate as I did, I thought I'd share this handy printable list I created, to help you out.
Basically, the key reason it's recommended that you avoid certain foods while pregnant is because of the risk of consuming a bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. The risk of Listeria infection is low, assuming you eat properly prepared and stored foods. So a lot of people don't worry too much about it. I get that. But if you DO happen to consume Listeria, even a mild infection can cause your baby to be born prematurely or be very sick when they are born, or even cause miscarriage or stillbirth. As a chronic worrier, that was something I wasn't going to risk, so I was all up in the faces of the FOOD DON'T lists.
I found the most difficult time to follow a "pregnancy safe" diet was when I was eating out. Which happens to be a lot. You could almost guarantee that there would be at least something on any menu item that was on the DON'T list. So I created myself a little check-list, the size of a business card, that I carried around with me. Wherever I was, I could look up the food on my list to see what was safe to eat and what wasn't.
(Embarrassing confession: this list came in especially handy with all the cheeses - simply saying "no soft cheese" wasn't enough for me because there are so many cheeses that half the time I didn't know what they were called. I'd think I was reading the name of a mushroom or something.)
Alongside Listeria, the other thing the health experts recommend you limit when pregnant is your mercury intake, which can damage the foetus and is found at high levels in some fish. This isn't a big risk because you'd have to be eating these types of fish quite regularly for the mercury to build up in your blood (and it is recommended that you do eat fish during your pregnancy), but I included the high-mercury-content fish on my list, just to be sure.
My food card is a kind of amalgam of the NSW Food Authority list of foods to avoid when pregnant, and a similar list from the Victorian Government Better Health Channel. Bear in mind that my list is by no means authoritative, and you should do your own research and/or check with your doctor if you are unsure. Also, I erred on the side of caution in most cases so if the lists said "don't eat unless you have done X, Y or Z," I just put it on the "don't eat" list, because honestly that was easier to remember!
>> Here is my Pregnancy-Food-Safety-Card. It's business-card sized, so you can simply print it off then stick the sides back to back (or just print it double-sided if you have that kind of printer). I laminated mine so that it would survive nine months in my purse.
>> If you want to adapt the card to your own food-choices, here it is in Word format so you can edit it.
I hope this helps! xx
Do you have any handy tips or resources from your own pregnancy that you can share with other mums to be?