When you're choosing what to eat, remember that now you're making the decision for two.

Singaporeans are foodies at heart, which is why telling us not to eat certain foods — especially during pregnancy — is not the easiest task in the world. However, it's important to watch what you eat when you're pregnant as you need to keep yourself and your baby safe.

The good news is that you're already on week 7, and the food restrictions last for just nine months. It will be over before you start missing all your favourite dishes! In the meantime, here are the foods you should avoid:

1. Soft cheeses

This includes cheeses such as brie, feta and camembert as they may contain listeria. Listeria is a bacterium (germ) that can cause complications for pregnant women such as miscarriage, stillbirth or infections in the baby after birth.

2. Raw or undercooked meat

Bid a temporary farewell to medium-rare steak, cockles, sashimi, sushi and pâté for the next few months. Raw and undercooked animal foods contain a variety of food-borne bacteria such as coliform bacteria, salmonella and toxoplasma. Deli meats can be contaminated with listeria. If you're considering eating deli meats, make sure to reheat the meat until it's steaming. Changes in your metabolism and circulation during pregnancy may increase the risk of bacterial food poisoning, and your reaction may be more severe when you're pregnant.

3. Raw eggs

Raw or soft-boiled eggs should be avoided as they may contain salmonella. During pregnancy, eggs should be cooked until both the white and yolk are solid. Do take note that some foods like mayonnaise and tiramisu contain raw eggs.

4. Raw and unwashed vegetables

Vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. However, it's essential to make sure they're washed thoroughly to avoid potential exposure to parasites as well as other bacteria from the soil.

5. Herbal supplements

Traditional foods like bird's nest and chicken essence are considered safe when taken in moderation. There haven't been enough studies conducted on herbal supplements or botanicals with medicinal properties for doctors to recommend them during pregnancy. Always check with your doctor for advice.

6. Alcohol

Mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy have a much higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Excessive alcohol consumption may even result in foetal alcohol syndrome, including facial deformities, low birth weight and mental retardation.

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By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr TAN Shu Qi Senior O&G Resident, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific
Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore

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