Eating lean meat during pregnancy is a way to get the protein you and your unborn baby need. Your little one requires plenty of protein for proper growth, and lean meats supply a healthy dose. It is important to eat your meat well-cooked, because undercooked meat can cause illnesses that may pose a danger to your unborn baby. Avoid them by cooking whole cuts of meat to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and ground meats to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Poultry must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria.
E. coli is a type of bacteria that resides in the bowels and the vagina. Many strains of E. coli are harmless, but other strains can make you sick. One of the ways you become infected with E. coli is by eating undercooked meat. E. coli is destroyed when you cook your meat well, and undercooked meat is not heated to hot enough temperatures to completely get rid of the bacteria. If you contract E. coli, you will experience stomach cramps, fever and diarrhea, sometimes bloody diarrhea. Some strains of E. coli can be passed to your baby. See you doctor immediately if you develop symptoms, because you may be at an increased risk for dehydration, miscarriage and premature delivery.
Eating undercooked meat during pregnancy can cause a toxoplasmosis infection. If you become infected while you are pregnant, you may pass the infection to your unborn baby. Cooking your meat until it is well done will help prevent an infection, which can occur without causing you any symptoms. Your baby may not show any symptoms at birth, but contracting a toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy can cause blindness and mental disabilities later in life.
Eating undercooked meat may also cause a salmonella infection. Salmonella is a dangerous form of food poisoning that cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. You may also experience chills, headache, nausea and vomiting. These can be uncomfortable when you are not pregnant, but may pose an additional risk to you and your unborn baby. A salmonella infection can be life threatening to both you and your unborn baby, so cooking meat well is essential.
Listeria is a bacteria found in contaminated water and soil, but it can also be found in undercooked meats. The American Pregnancy Association reports that pregnant women are 20 times more likely to become infected with listeria than non-pregnant women. Contracting listeria while you are pregnant can cause miscarriage, premature delivery and infection to your newborn. Approximately 22 percent of cases result in stillbirth or neonatal death. Deli meats can also harbor this bacteria, so steam them well before eating.
- American Pregnancy Association; Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy; June 2011
- March of Dimes; Food-borne Risks in Pregnancy
- Organization of Teratology Information Specialists: E. coli and Pregnancy
- Centers for Disease Control: Toxoplasmosis
- American Pregnancy Association; Listeria and Pregnancy; June 2011