What Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time during which both mom and baby are vulnerable to food poisoning and other food-related illnesses. Infections resulting from food-related illnesses are more difficult to treat during pregnancy, because not all medications are appropriate for pregnant women. However, this is easily preventable by avoiding a few risky foods and some bad habits.

Avoid raw and undercooked seafood. These may contain viruses and bacteria that are harmful to your baby.

  • Stay away from sushi, oyster and clams. This may be difficult for sushi lovers, but remember, it’s only temporary.
  • Avoid refrigerated smoked seafood such as smoked salmon. You may consume these if they are cooked or canned.
  • Make sure the fish that you eat is cooked well. Prawns and lobster must be milky white and fish should be flaky.
  1. Avoid raw meats, poultry and eggs. These may also contain bacteria such as E. Coli and Salmonella, both of which are harmful to you and your growing baby.
    • Cook eggs until both the egg white and yolk are firm. Avoid sunny-side up eggs!
    • Cook all meats and poultry very well. The meat and poultry should not be pink on the inside at all! If it is, cook it further.
  2. Stay away from unpasteurized foods. Pasteurization is a process in which the foods are exposed to high temperatures thereby ensuring that they are bacteria-free.
    • Make sure all dairy products you consume are clearly labeled as pasteurized.
    • Cheeses such as Brie, Blue Cheese, Camembert and Feta are often unpasteurized. Double-check the labels on these. At times when you are uncertain (such as when cheeses are served in a buffet) it’s best to just avoid them.
    • Juices may also be unpasteurized, so double-check the label on all juices that you consume.
  3. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. The skin of some fruits and veggies may contain disease-causing bacteria, so ensure to rinse them well.
  4. Take it easy on vitamin A. Excess vitamin A causes birth defects. If you’re a fan of chicken liver or beef liver, try to avoid them as they are very rich in vitamin A. You are less likely to exceed your vitamin A requirements from fruits and vegetables so you do not need to restrict these.
  5. Easy on the caffeine. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have your tea or coffee. You can comfortably have two cups of coffee, or three to four cups of tea per day. Going beyond this may elevate your baby’s heart rate potentially affecting your baby’s health.
  6. Keep those cigarettes away. Smoking is harmful to any individual, let alone if you’re pregnant! If you smoke while pregnant, you expose your baby to harmful substances that limit the oxygen supply to your child. It also increases the risk of stillbirth, birth defects, low birth weight and preterm labor. Use your pregnancy as a motive to quit smoking for good!

You’re better off safe than sorry! You will probably have many cravings during pregnancy, but avoiding the above-mentioned foods is non-negotiable. If you are ever uncertain about the safety of a particular food, it is recommended that you avoid it until you speak with your healthcare professional.


This article offers general advice and may not be applicable to you. Before making any changes to your diet, be sure to consult a qualified health-care professional.

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