Caring for yourself — and your baby — during pregnancy can feel a bit overwhelming at times. From your grandmother's well-meaning advice to cautionary internet headlines, it's hard to know what to believe. We sifted through all the information and came up with the top offenders, so you can get out there and enjoy the holiday season.
Who doesn't love cheese? Almost any buffet table will feature a mouth-watering assortment of cheeses, many of which you may have never tried before. Soft cheeses such as Roquefort, queso fresco, blue-veined cheeses, Brie, feta and Camembert are made with unpasteurized milk and may contain the bacteria listeria monocytogenes, which can cause a miscarriage or stillbirth. While you should avoid soft cheeses during pregnancy, you can enjoy cheeses made with pasteurized milk, such as Romano, Swiss, Monterey Jack, cheddar and mozzarella.
Your aunt's famous homemade eggnog may be a holiday tradition, but don't indulge this year. Most homemade eggnogs are made with raw eggs, which can be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Eggnog is usually spiked with brandy, bourbon or rum and should be avoided during pregnancy due to the alcohol content. You can still enjoy pasteurized non-alcoholic eggnog from the grocery store.
You can have the bagel, but take a pass on the lox. Smoked salmon and other smoked seafood that is refrigerated may also contain harmful bacteria just like raw fish. Canned, shelf-stable varieties are fine, as well as smoked seafood that has been cooked into another dish, such as a casserole.
Raw fish and shellfish — especially oysters and clams — are best avoided during pregnancy, due to the possibility that they contain harmful bacteria. Cook fish to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, and cook clams, mussels and oysters until the shell pops open.
Hot spiced cider
One of the fancier spreads on a holiday buffet, pate can be made from a variety of different meats or even vegetables. The danger is the possibility that the spread may contain the bacteria listeria monocytogenes, which poses a danger to the pregnant woman. Choose hummus or cream cheese as an alternative spread.
Just the smell makes you think of cold weather and holiday cheer but many spiced ciders are unpasteurized and may contain E. coli bacteria. Cider is also sometimes spiked with alcohol, and is best avoided during pregnancy. Opt instead for plain, pasteurized cider or hot chocolate.
You can still enjoy the holiday buffet when you are pregnant if you watch out for a few treats to avoid.