As soon as you leave your OB’s office with a pregnancy confirmation, you’re bombarded with checklists, warnings, and restrictions — especially concerning what a pregnant woman can and can’t eat. I remember feeling a lot of fear around what I was putting in my mouth — Is my favorite deli sandwich now off limits? Will my grande iced coffee cause my fetus to get all jittery? Is it safe to have tuna while pregnant? Because the rules are constantly changing (and are often contradictory), you might feel like you need a nutrition degree just to navigate the pregnancy diet rules. Even if you suspect some of the food “don’ts” tread into fear-mongering territory (like, will one glass of wine really hurt?), you certainly don’t want to hurt your baby. And so you err on the side of caution, passing up your favorite fresh mozzarella panini despite angry cravings that tug at your will power.
Of course there’s a reason certain foods are off limits, and most circle around the risk of pathogens — specifically listeria bacteria, which pregnant women are more susceptible to get and then pass through the placenta, possibly causing premature delivery, miscarriage, even stillbirth. That’s where the hot dog/deli meat no-no comes from, along with soft cheeses like brie and feta, and raw foods like sushi.
And yet, as it turns out, there is some wiggle room in what’s safe for a pregnant woman to eat. Based on recent research and expert opinions, here are some common foods pregnant women think they can’t eat, but totally can (well, in moderation.)