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Foods to avoid during pregnancy

You’ve got to be extra-careful about what you eat when you’re pregnant, because you’ve got Baby to worry about now, too! Here is a list of foods to definitely avoid when you’ve got a bun in the oven.

Raw fish, meat, eggs, or unpasteurized milk

Consuming raw fish, meat, milk or eggs puts you at risk of exposure to harmful bacteria like coliform bacteria, salmonella, and e. coli, or could cause toxoplasmosis, a serious parasitic infection.

Healthy alternative: Meat must be cooked to a safe temperature (145-160 degrees Fahrenheit, 63-71 Celsius, depending on the type) in order to fully ensure that it will not contain harmful parasites and bacteria. When ordering at a restaurant, it’s always safer to ask for the meat cooked medium or above when pregnant. Raw eggs and milk should be avoided, but cooked eggs and pasteurized milk are super important during pregnancy, so make sure they aren’t raw!

Deli meat

Deli meat can contain listeria, which can make you sick and put your baby at risk.

Healthy alternative: If you can’t bear the thought of going through your pregnacy without roast beef sandwiches, it’s best to steam the meat to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius).

Fish high in mercury

Pregnant women should avoid eating fish that are high in mercury like shark and swordfish, as mercury can seriously harm fetal brain development.

Healthy alternative: Bass, cod, halibut, mahi mahi, salmon, and tuna among others contain relatively low levels of mercury compared to others, but you should still limit your consumption to 6 ounces a week, and make sure everything is fully cooked.

Smoked seafood

Smoked seafood may contain listeria, which could make both you and your baby sick. Canned smoked seafoods are safe to eat while pregnant, but refrigerated ones should be avoided.

Healthy alternative: As a safer alternative to smoked seafood, try grilling or baking your fish.

Raw shellfish

Raw shellfish like oysters and clams may contain dangerous viruses and bacteria, which could lead to devastating disease in both you and your baby.

Healthy alternative: Shellfish must be cooked throughout before eating them during pregnancy, as they could play host to many potentially harmful bacteria.

Soft cheeses

Brie, feta, Camembert, Panela, and other raw milk products should be avoided during pregnancy, unless their labels say that they’re made from pasteurized milk.

Healthy alternative: Though many soft, unpasteurized cheeses are a no-no, hard cheeses like American, Cheddar, and Swiss are perfectly healthy to eat during pregnancy and are rich in calcium, among other vital gestational nutrients. Pasteurized cheese spreads, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and semi-soft mozzarella are safe to eat as well.


Alcohol can have devastating effects on a baby’s growth and cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which results in stunted development and learning troubles for your child, as well as physical problems affecting the kidneys, vision, or bones.

Healthy alternative: Mocktails are fruity, fun drinks that will dazzle your taste buds without any booze! There are lots of great mocktail recipes out there; check them out!

Unwashed vegetables

Unwashed vegetables put you at risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, a serious parasitic infection that could cause miscarriage or stillbirth.

Healthy alternative: Veggies are probably the most important overall food group to eat during pregnancy, just make sure that they’re totally washed and clean!

Unpasteurized juices or ciders

Unpasteurized juice or ciders may contain the bacteria listeria, which could make you or your baby very ill, so it is best to avoid these during pregnancy.

Healthy alternative: All fruit juices or cider should be pasteurized before drinking them, so make sure that you check out all fruit beverages you drink.

Raw or undercooked sprouts

Raw or undercooked sprouts may contain e. coli or salmonella bacteria, and should be avoided during pregnancy.

Healthy alternative: Like anything that contains harmful bacteria in its raw state, sprouts should definitely be cooked before eating them while pregnant.

You should call your healthcare provider about the pregnancy safety about any food you are unsure about.

Read more
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Pregnancy nutrition: Foods to avoid during pregnancy.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 6/03/2016. Web.
  • “Sprouts: What You Should Know.” Foodsafety.gov. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d. Web.
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