Can you eat cream cheese when pregnant? Here’s whether or not cream cheese is safe during pregnancy, plus other tips for the first time mom!
If you’re a first time mom, you’ve probably heard about the dangers of eating soft cheese, deli meats, and sprouts.
But, what about cream cheese?
If you’re used to adding a smear of Philadelphia cream cheese to your morning bagel, you probably don’t want to break your routine.
Here’s what you should know about pregnancy and cream cheese!
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Can you eat cream cheese when pregnant?
Cream cheese is actually not a soft cheese, even though it’s smooth and spreadable.
The pasteurization process is standard in American manufacturing, but may not be the case in other countries. Unpasteurized cheese and unpasteurized milk are common in some parts of the world.
So, if you do any traveling or someone brings you a treat from another country, be sure to avoid cream cheese and other dairy products that you aren’t certain about.
What else should I know about cream cheese when pregnant?
You’ll want to pay close attention to the expiration date of your cream cheese or cream cheese spread. These products often don’t last long in the refrigerator.
To avoid getting sick, check your labels frequently.
You should also make sure you don’t accidentally introduce bacteria into your cream cheese by double-dipping!
And while a little bit of cream cheese won’t affect your health, you should practice moderation as it is pretty high in fat content. Too much could lead to complications like gestational diabetes or an unhealthy pregnancy weight.
Here are some great options to substitute for cream cheese that aren’t as high in fat.
Other Safe Cheeses You Can Eat When Pregnant
Hard cheeses such as cheddar, stilton, and parmesan are all safe to eat. These cheeses have a low moisture content so they don’t breed bacteria the same way soft cheeses can.
You can also eat soft cheeses that are pasteurized. This includes cottage cheese, feta cheese, and queso fresco.
Just be sure to check the label of your cheese.
There should be language on the label that indicates whether or not it is pasteurized. If you can’t find confirmation, pick a different brand or find another similar cheese to use instead.
What foods should I avoid?
Cream cheese is okay to have, but here are several food items you should definitely avoid:
- Soft cheeses and raw milk cheeses that are unpasteurized (like blue cheese)
- Cheese with a white rind that is mold-ripened (like brie)
- Unpasteurized dairy and juices
- Deli meats
- Hot dogs
- Meat from organs and liver products
- Raw eggs
- Undercooked/raw fish or meat
- Raw shellfish
- Produce that is unwashed
- Fish with high mercury levels like shark, tuna, marlin, swordfish, and mackerel
- Raw Sprouts
- Excessive caffeine like energy drinks
- Green tea
- Alcohol, tobacco and non-prescription drugs
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Why are certain foods harmful when pregnant?
Undercooked, unwashed, and under-refrigerated foods are particularly dangerous to a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. Many of these food items can harbor a harmful type of bacteria like listeria bacteria.
Because pregnancy weakens the immune system, expectant mothers are more susceptible to serious illness or even death from an infection.
When cooking, make sure to wash produce and use a meat thermometer to ensure your proteins are thoroughly cooked.
If you really want to eat a deli sandwich, be sure to heat the meat until steaming before you enjoy. This will help kill off any bacteria that might be present.
And, here are some foods that are helpful during pregnancy to incorporate into your diet:
- Pasteurized Dairy
- Broccoli and Dark Leafy Greens
- Sweet Potatoes
- Eggs (fully cooked)
- Lean Meat and Proteins
- Whole Grains
- Dried Fruit
- Lots of Water
Try to create healthy, balanced meals as much as possible and keep lots of nutritious snacks on hand. But, it’s okay to indulge every now and then, too!
Water is also essential to a healthy pregnancy diet. You’ll need lots of it to ensure your body functions properly and to keep your iron levels where they should be.
Your doctor should also recommend taking a prenatal vitamin throughout pregnancy if you haven’t already started.
When should I be concerned?
Just because you eat a potentially harmful food, doesn’t necessarily mean you will become infected with listeria or get sick.
So, don’t panic if you accidentally eat something you shouldn’t. But, do pay attention to how you feel afterward.
If you experience these, or stomach pain, reach out to your doctor right away so they can make sure you get the care you need.
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In America, cream cheese is pasteurized and safe for pregnant women to eat. And it’s actually not a soft cheese, but a cream cheese spread. Just be sure to enjoy in moderation!
Avoid unpasteurized cheeses, soft cheeses, and mold-ripened cheese. Check the label of your cheese, to ensure it’s gone through the pasteurization process. If not, find a different brand or choose a different type of cheese.
It is safe for pregnant women to eat cheesecake. Just make sure the cheesecake was made with pasteurized ingredients.
Pregnant women should always avoid raw or undercooked meats, fish, and shellfish. Expectant mothers should also avoid unwashed produce, foods that are high in mercury like certain kinds of fish, foods or beverages with lots of caffeine, deli meats, soft or mold-ripened cheeses, and any unpasteurized dairy products, cheeses, or juices.
The Bottom Line
Cream cheese is safe to eat when pregnant!
So go ahead and add some cream cheese to that bagel, just be sure to practice moderation! And, be sure to avoid any foods that have been proven harmful during pregnancy.
Foods to avoid are:
- Raw or undercooked meats, fish, eggs, and shellfish
- Organ meats
- Deli meats
- Foods high in mercury or caffeine
- Unpasteurized dairy and juice
- Soft and mold-ripened cheeses
- Unwashed produce and raw sprouts
- Non-prescription drugs and alcohol
And, if you’re not pregnant yet, food can play a huge part in whether or not you’re able to conceive. Here are 26 foods that increase sperm count, plus the foods your partner should avoid when trying to become pregnant.
Food is important throughout the entire pregnancy process and journey, so keep an eye on what you’re consuming.
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or you develop a fever and flu-like symptoms right away! This could be a sign of infection.
Need more tips for new moms? Check out:
- The best First Time Mom Labor Tips
- This guide to Postpartum Body Changes
- Genius Newborn Baby Hacks
- Life-saving Newborn Sleep Tips
- and Ideas for the cutest Monthly Baby Photos
Have more questions about eating cream cheese when pregnant or other foods to avoid? Let me know in the comments!