When pregnant, avoid eggs that are under cooked or unwashed, as part of your specialised diet.
Image courtesy of Steve Johnson.

Good nutrition is crucial during pregnancy, particularly in your first trimester, and because learning the foods to avoid during pregnancy can be quite overwhelming, we’ve put together some tips that will help to keep you and your baby on a healthy path.

1. Avoid all types of pâté. This is one of the main foods to avoid during pregnancy, since it can contain the bacteria Listeria. It’s unlikely for listeriosis to seriously affect your health, but the infection can have grave consequences for your developing baby.


"[…] Avoid foods that are on the pregnancy do-not-eat list like raw fish,..."

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2. Steer clear of some cheeses. Mould-ripened soft cheeses, including brie and camembert, should be avoided as they too can contain the bacteria Listeria. Likewise, steer clear of soft blue-veined cheeses like gorgonzola and roquefort.

3. Avoid unpasteurised milk. Raw milk and any by-product from this milk should not be consumed when pregnant, as it can contain bacteria.

4. Avoid raw or undercooked eggs as they can carry harmful organisms, such as E. Coli and Salmonella, which can lead to gastrointestinal infection in pregnant women. Infection can be passed through the placenta to the baby. This can be life threatening for your baby, so as a precaution it’s best to avoid eggs in their raw form, including in sauces, batter and egg nog. Cooked egg, however, is healthy for both you and your baby, providing several key nutrients in the form of protein, fats, minerals (such as zinc and selenium) and vitamins A, D and some B.

5. Consumption of certain types of fish should be monitored or avoided. It’s best to avoid shark and swordfish completely as they contain high levels of mercury, which can affect your baby’s neural development. Fresh tuna also contains relatively high levels of mercury, so it’s best to limit your intake. Some fish can contain low levels of pollutants that accumulate in their bodies over time, so pregnant women should have no more than two portions of them per week. These include oily fish, such as salmon; fresh tuna; mackerel; sardines; trout; some white fish, such as sea bass, sea bream, turbot, halibut and rock salmon; and brown crab meat. Do not avoid fish completely, as the vitamin D found in some fish, including salmon and mackerel, is important for the development of your baby’s bones.

6. Steer clear of undercooked meat. All meat should be cooked thoroughly, as raw meat can cause taxoplasmosis.

7. Wash your food thoroughly. Unwashed fruits, vegetables and salad can also contain the parasite toxoplasma, which can cause a range of complications with your baby.

8. Limit your consumption of liver. An excessive build-up of vitamin A can be harmful to your baby. Foods that contain high levels of vitamin A include liver and fish liver oils.

9. Avoid alcohol. Studies have shown that alcohol consumption in pregnancy could cause damage to the unborn child.

10. Limit your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can cause a low birth rate or miscarriage – 200mg per day is widely considered as safe.

11. Limit your intake of food with added sugar. If you have gestational diabetes, it is particularly important to avoid foods and drinks that are high in added sugars, as these can upset your blood glucose control. It’s not healthy for people without diabetes, either. The best place to get these simple carbohydrates is from fruits and milk, while complex carbohydrates that are good for you include bread, rice, pasta and potatoes.