Food is the focus of many holiday get-togethers when families and friends love to gather in the kitchen. The snack table may be especially enticing for pregnant women with cravings. Holiday parties are a great time to dig in, but pregnant women must be mindful of food safety before filling their plate.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women are thirteen times more likely than the general population to get listeriosis, a rare but deadly foodborne infection, and newborn babies suffer the most serious effects of infection in pregnancy.
Women who are pregnant are at a higher risk of food poisoning because during this time our immune systems are weakened making it more difficult to fight off harmful germs. Our growing fetuses are also too weak to fight off foodborne germs.
CDC offers some food safety guidelines for pregnant women to adhere to during the holidays:
- Wash Your Hands
Wash with soap and water often including before eating or drinking, preparing food and when touching raw meat, vegetables and eggs.
- Don’t Share
Try not to share food, cups, or utensils with children. Wash your hands often when around them. Their saliva and urine might contain a virus that could be harmful to you and your baby.
- Make Your Meat Well Done
Avoid undercooked meat, which could harbor harmful bacteria. Cook meat using a thermometer and make sure it is cooked to the proper temperature. Avoid deli and processed meats, which should only be consumed if cooked until steaming hot.
- Avoid Raw Milk
It is not recommended to eat soft cheeses like feta, brie and queso fresco that are likely unpasteurized. You should also steer clear of raw, unpasteurized milk. These products could have bacteria that can cause infections for you and your unborn baby.
- Be Careful What You Drink
Make sure you know what’s being poured in your glass. Avoid alcoholic drinks, and punches or egg nog that may have been spiked.