Will eating cheese affect my baby

We sort science from superstition, facts from myths, and give them to you straight so you’re prepared for your developing baby.


Myth: You can’t eat Brie.

Fact: Soft French cheeses rank high on the list of things pregnant women are told to avoid. It’s also kind of true: Mould-ripened cheeses, such as camembert and brie, do carry a risk of food-borne infection such as listeriosis. This bacterial infection can cause miscarriage and birth defects, and leave a newborn vulnerable to jaundice and eye infections.

The good news is that it’s easy to avoid. Brie and camembert sold in supermarkets will have been pasteurised, making them safe and this should be stated clearly on the label. If it’s not marked clearly, just avoid them.

These soft cheeses are generally safe: Feta, ricotta, mascarpone, cream cheese, mozzarella and cottage cheese, although you should check that these, too, are pasteurised before you eat them. Other foods with a high risk of bacteria include pâté and smoked meats like Parma ham. These should definitely be avoided until after you’ve finished breastfeeding your baby.

Myth: You need to put your feet up for nine months.

Fact: While pregnancy is definitely time to abandon risky activities like go-karting and kickboxing, doing light, regular exercise carries more benefits than it does risks. Research from the University of Vermont in the US found that women who stay active tend to have shorter labours, regain their pre-pregnancy shape, have less chance of postnatal depression and sleep better than those who don’t exercise. Obviously, the first thing to do is to verify with your gynaecologist what you can do.

And what kind of light exercise do we mean? Aerobic exercise — the kind that leaves you slightly out of breath — will keep your heart and lungs healthy, just remember the talk test: If you cannot chat with your friend while doing the exercise, it’s too intense, dial it down. If your legs or joints complain, think about doing aqua aerobics and swimming — perfect forms of prenatal exercise.

Myth: If your belly’s pointed, it’s a boy.

Fact: No aspect of pregnancy has more old wives’ tales about it than “predicting” the baby’s gender. The most common fallacy is that boys make neat, pointy bumps while girl babies cause the weight to spread more evenly around your abdomen - something that sounds plausible but is in fact, nonsense. The bump shape is more likely to reflect your own body type and state of health.

Some of these tales can even be dangerous: The Internet is awash with “theories” that light bleeding during pregnancy means you’re carrying a boy, while extreme morning sickness means it’s a girl. Bleeding, while common, should always be checked out by your doctor.

Your best bet is through an ultrasound scan at your gynae clinic. But even scans aren’t 100 per cent accurate as your baby’s position might make it hard for your gynae to tell for sure. The only foolproof way to find out the sex is to meet your baby!