Foods You Should Avoid During Pregnancy

The biggest priority during pregnancy is eating right. However, knowing what to eat and what not to eat during pregnancy can be confusing.

In addition to taking your prenatal vitamins to get essential nutrients like iron and folic acid, getting extra calories, and eating a well-balanced diet, you should also pay close attention to what you’re not meant to eat during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your immune system is weakened, which makes you more susceptible to bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other foodborne-related illnesses such as salmonella, E. coli, and toxoplasmosis.

Not only can these bacteria make you sick, but they can also put you at severe risks of miscarriages or preterm labor.

While you’re pregnant, remember that everything you are eating is also passed down to your growing baby. Hence, whatever you eat also affects your developing fetus. Here are some of the foods you should avoid in the course of these nine months:

Seafood High in Mercury

Fresh king mackerel fish
Fresh king mackerel fish

Even though seafood can be a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and proteins and fish can promote your child’s eye and brain development, pregnant women should stay away from seafood high in mercury.

There are certain fish and shellfish that contain high levels of mercury. Such could put you and your unborn baby in harm’s way. Dangerous levels of mercury particularly pose a threat to your baby’s developing nervous system.

Dynamically, the older and more significant the fish, the more mercury content. Hence, we recommend that pregnant women avoid shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish.

However, if you love indulging in fish, then consider opting for those with little mercury levels such as salmon, Pollock, shrimp, anchovies, catfish, tilapia, cod, trout, and light canned tuna. Limit then to 2-3 servings per week.

Raw or Undercooked Seafood

Raw Shrimps
Raw Shrimps

Seafood also contains bacteria and viruses that are harmful to both you and your unborn baby. We, therefore, recommend avoiding raw fish and shellfish, including sushi, raw oysters, sashimi, clams, and scallops.

Avoid undercooked or refrigerated seafood, as well. For instance, seafood labeled lox, nova style, smoked, kippered, or jerky is harmful to you and the unborn child.

Unless smoked seafood is an ingredient in casseroles or other cooked dishes, we recommend that you keep a safe distance.

We recommend that you pay close attention to your local fish advisories, especially if you consume fish from your local waters. This should mainly be upheld if the local fish advisories experience water pollution.

If you are not sure about the safety of the fish you consume, then we recommend that you don’t consume it at all.

To avoid severe infections from consuming raw seafood, we recommend that you cook seafood thoroughly. Cook fish at an internal temperature of 145 F. To tell when the fish is cooked, notice when it starts to separate into flakes or when it appears solid throughout.

We recommend that you cook lobster, shrimp, and scallops until they are milky white. Cook mussels, clams, and oysters until the shells open and toss out the ones that don’t open.

Undercooked meat, eggs, and poultry

Undercooked meat
Undercooked meat

During pregnancy, women are at an increase in food poisoning from bacterial infection. To prevent certain foodborne diseases, we recommend that you cook meat and poultry thoroughly before consumption. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that the meat is fully cooked.

Make sure to cook luncheon meats and hot dogs until they are steaming hot. Unless they are cooked thoroughly, we recommend that you avoid them entirely because they can be sources of foodborne illnesses like listeriosis.

For your safety and that of the baby, avoid refrigerated meat spreads and pates. However, the self-stable and canned versions are okay for minimal consumption.

As for the eggs, make sure the egg whites and yolks are fully cooked to eradicate any contamination from harmful bacteria. In the same way, avoid foods made with raw or undercooked eggs such as raw batter, homemade or freshly made hollandaise, eggnog, and Caesar salad dressing.

Unwashed Vegetables and Fruits

Unwashed Vegetables and Fruits
Unwashed Vegetables and Fruits

To eradicate harmful bacteria from raw vegetables and fruits, it’s safe to wash them thoroughly. Avoid raw sprouts such as clover, alfalfa, mung bean, and radish because they contain bacteria that could prove harmful to both you and the baby.

Unpasteurized Foods

Unpasteurized Milk
Unpasteurized Milk

Most low-fat dairy products like skim milk, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese are believed to be a healthy addition to your diet. However, pregnant women need to avoid unpasteurized milk.

Unpasteurized foods can lead to foodborne illnesses. Hence we recommend that you avoid soft cheeses like feta, Brie, and blue cheese. Unless these products are labeled as pasteurized, avoid them. Avoid unpasteurized juice, as well.

Herbal Tea

Even though there is very little data as to how herbal teas affect unborn babies, we recommend that you stay away from herbal teas to ensure the health of your unborn babies.

Unless your ob-gyn says it’s okay to consume certain herbal teas, it is in your best interest and that of the baby to stay away from them.



Some may say that consuming a glass of wine or alcohol in minimal levels is okay. However, no amount of alcohol intake is recommended for pregnant women. Hence, to be safe, we advise that you stay away from alcohol altogether.

Pregnant women who consume alcohol are more predisposed to higher risks of stillbirth or miscarriage. Too much alcohol intake while you’re pregnant can result in fetal alcohol syndrome, which causes intellectual disabilities and facial deformities.



The effects of caffeine on your baby once it crosses the placenta aren’t apparent. However, to be safe, we recommend that you limit your daily intake of caffeine to less than 200 mg per day during pregnancy.

Remember that caffeine is also available in non-herbal teas such as matcha, chai, green, yerba mate, oolong, and black, or in individual medications such as migraine and headache medications. Caffeine is also present in other sources like soda, chocolate, certain herbal supplements, and products, as well as specific energy drinks.

Either way, we recommend that you avoid consuming more than 1-2 cups of coffee or caffeine-infused drinks per day.

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