Raw or undercooked fish or meats
Sorry, no sushi! Raw meat, chicken, and fish can be contaminated by salmonella and other disease-carrying bacteria. To a healthy adult, these bacteria can cause mild but uncomfortable symptoms such as vomiting, fever, and diarrhea. But for a pregnant woman, they can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature delivery.
To avoid bacteria contamination, store all meats and fish in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook meats until an internal thermometer reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit (145 degrees Fahrenheit for steaks, veal, roasts, and lamb). When ordering out at a restaurant, ask for your hamburger or steak well-done. (Don't be afraid to send it back if it's still pink inside.)
The March of Dimes recommends cooking fish until it flakes easily with a fork and skipping the raw bar (oysters, clams, and mussels) entirely until after your baby is born. When cooking eggs, break the yolks and heat them until they are firm. Also watch out for foods that contain raw eggs, such as Caesar dressing or Hollandaise sauce.
Just as important is remembering to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw or undercooked meats. You should also scrub down all utensils and cutting boards thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination.
Hold off on the bologna and salami sandwiches while you're pregnant. BabyZone expert Dr. Gerard M. DiLeo points out that deli meats can carry Listeria-causing bacteria, which can cause a potentially deadly infection that can cross to the placenta and sicken your baby. If you're craving a deli sandwich, heat the meat until it is steaming before you eat it.
Soft cheeses and unpasteurized milk and juices
Today, most milk products are pasteurized—heated up to a temperature that kills bacteria—before they are shipped to your local supermarket. But some milk and juice products, as well as some soft cheeses such as brie, feta, gorgonzola, Camembert, and Roquefort, are unpasteurized. The bacteria in these foods and drinks can also cause Listeria. Read labels carefully and ask about the pasteurization status of the foods you order in restaurants. And don't drink apple cider fresh from the presses, as it has not been pasteurized.
Unwashed fruits and vegetables, salad bars, and raw vegetable sprouts
Washing fruits and vegetables before eating them is always a good idea, but it's especially important during pregnancy.
The March of Dimes suggests you steer clear of salad bars (and packaged spinach, lettuce, and so on), which can carry Listeria-causing bacteria. Pregnant women should forgo raw vegetable sprouts (such as alfalfa, clover, and radish) for the same reason.
Raw produce, like meat, can be host to dangerous bacteria. If you're not planning to cook a piece of fruit or a vegetable, a good rinse with warm water and/or soap will kill off most bacteria.