Why You Should Avoid Soft Cheese during Pregnancy

If you’re a cheese lover, it may be hard for you to avoid soft cheese during pregnancy – but doing so is for a very good reason. Soft cheese is on the list of foods to avoid while pregnant for a few reasons and we’re exploring them today.

Why You Should Avoid Soft Cheese during PregnancyWhy is it necessary to avoid soft cheese during pregnancy?

It’s spreadable, creamy and downright delicious, however it’s important to avoid soft cheese during pregnancy if it is unpasteurized because it may contain harmful bacteria called listeria. Listeria is a bacteria found in water and soil that causes the illness called listeriosis. Listeria is most commonly found in raw meats, vegetables and unpasteurized cheeses. Usually the process of cooking or pasteurizing food kills listeria, however some packaged food may be contaminated during packaging.

Unpasteurized soft cheeses are more likely to be contaminated with listeria because they contain more moisture than hard cheeses. Moisture is the perfect breeding ground for listeria.

What types of soft cheeses might have listeria?

Unpasteurized mold-rippened soft cheeses and bleu-veined cheeses are most likely to have listeria. Mold-rippened cheeses include brie, goat cheese, camembert and blue-veined cheeses include Danish blue, gorgonzola and Roquefort. These cheeses are generally considered safe if they have been pasteurized. However it is vital to be sure you avoid soft cheese during pregnancy if it has not been pasteurized. Hard cheeses don’t harbor moisture and are not likely to be contaminated with listeria.

Why is listeria more harmful during pregnancy?

Anyone who consumes food contaminated with listeria may end up with listeriosis but you are more likely to get it during pregnancy due to your weakened immune system. Your body is working very hard to create that precious baby and your immune system gets the short end of the stick, thanks to hormones. Less energy goes into keeping you well while you are pregnant and therefore moms-to-be are more susceptible to all sorts of infections, including listeriosis.  Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to get listeriosis than others, according to the CDC.

Additionally, listeriosis can be dangerous for your unborn baby. Is has been linked to miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects or infections in babies. That’s why it’s essential that you do everything possible to avoid listeria contamination during pregnancy.

What to do if you believe you have listeriosis

If you think you may have listeriosis, contact your physician immediately. Antibiotics can help you get rid of the infection and protect your baby from any negative side-effects as well. Symptoms of listeriosis include nausea, vomiting, headaches, fever and other flu-like symptoms.

Sources: NHS, American Pregnancy Association and The Bump