7 foods to avoid during pregnancy

Babies are incredibly fragile and incredibly delicate little people. Most people know that babies need constant, round-the-clock care and attention from the moment they’re born. Most people are wrong, as babies need this care before they’re even born. 

A mother’s lifestyle during pregnancy, which includes activities that affect her stress levels and meals consumed, can affect her baby’s well-being. It is a general rule of thumb to avoid alcohol when you’re pregnant, but what about foods? 

Did you know that some everyday foods can be potentially harmful to your unborn baby? Well, here are seven foods to avoid during pregnancy.

1. Undercooked or raw fish

Most people like sushi. Unborn babies, however, are not most people. 

Undercooked or raw fish, particularly shellfish, may contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, and Vibrio. The effects of these bacteria may be felt by only you – affecting your immune system, or it could affect your baby as well, causing problems such as premature delivery, miscarriages, or stillbirths in severe cases.

For this reason, ensure that you thoroughly cook fish before you eat it, especially avoid sushi.

Some kinds of fish are unsafe to eat even with thorough cooking; these are fishes with high mercury levels, which is very toxic to your fetus. Examples are King Mackerels, Marlin, Big eye tuna, Sharks, and Swordfishes. These fishes could affect your baby’s nervous system.

Fish that are safe to eat include Catfish, Salmon, Herring, Sardines, Anchovies, and Flounder. These fishes contain lower levels of mercury, but they still need to be cooked thoroughly.

2. Undercooked or raw meat

Raw or undercooked meat may be home to certain dangerous parasites and bacteria such as Listeria, Toxoplasmosis, E. coli, and Salmonella. 

These bacteria, if ingested, can lead to complications during childbirth and adversely affect the health of your child, causing problems such as blindness, epilepsy, stillbirths, and intellectual issues.

So, bearing this in mind, If you’re going to eat meat, ensure that it’s properly cooked. The extreme heat from cooking kills off potentially harmful bacteria and parasites that may have lodged in it. 

Cook meat to 165℉, or to the point where there are absolutely zero traces of blood or pink parts. This also applies to beef you would otherwise eat cold; heat them till they’re steaming hot before you consume them.

Heating meat such as sausages, salami, and pepperoni may be difficult, so it may be safer to avoid these kinds of meat.

3. Raw or undercooked eggs

Raw eggs, like raw meat and fish, can be home to salmonella, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. it’s unlikely to cause your baby harm, but it has caused stillbirths in rare cases.

If you don’t like runny eggs yolks, you may think this one is easy to avoid, but it also includes foods that may contain raw eggs, such as ice cream, salad dressings, cake icing, and mayonnaise. 

However, these are a risk when they’re homemade, as most commercial foods that contain raw eggs are typically made with pasteurized eggs. The process of pasteurization kills off the bacteria present in the eggs, and that’s why those eggs are safe to consume raw. Be sure to check labels before eating.

For that extra layer of safety, always cook eggs or foods containing eggs to 160℉, to the point where the whites and yolks are solid or use pasteurized eggs.

Better still, get healthy food ideas from our best foods for new moms post.

4. Undercooked or raw greens and sprouts

While these might look great and healthy on your salad as they contain required nutrients, raw sprouts and greens may be contaminated with Salmonella or E. Coli, and a simple wash won’t do. As mentioned earlier, these bacteria can be harmful to you and potentially deadly to your baby. E. coli should mostly be avoided at all costs.

For this reason, you also need to be vigilant when eating salads in public restaurants. Check if the salad contains ingredients such as chicken and fish because these are susceptible to carrying bacteria.

Always use fresh sprouts and greens and ensure they’re well-cooked, or avoid them altogether. 

5. Unpasteurized milk and fruit juices

These may contain E. Coli, Salmonella, or Listeria, which is obvious are bad for you.

Only consume pasteurized milk and fruit juices if you can. If it’s unavailable to you and you have only unpasteurized milk, then make sure you boil it before you consume it. Check the labels of milk, milk products, or fruit juices you buy to be sure you don’t take pasteurized milk mistakenly.

6. Caffeine

Why? Caffeine quickly passes to the fetus, and they’re unable to break it down. Too much caffeine can restrict fetal growth and weight (less than 2.5kg) and is linked to an increased infant mortality risk.

If you’re thinking about coffee, which is technically a drink that contains caffeine, you’re not wrong. But caffeine can also be found in some foods such as chocolate, tea, soft drinks, and cocoa.

You don’t have to cut it off completely, but the advised limit is less than 200 milligrams per day. Again, it is probably best to avoid caffeine altogether.

7. Liver and other foods containing vitamin A

Too much Vitamin A can cause congenital disabilities in your child. Cut down on liver and products containing liver because they are rich in Vitamin A

It’s also not safe to take multivitamins with Vitamin A or any other foods that contain Vitamin A. Be sure to check labels to be sure.

Vitamin A is safe when less than 10,000 IU (international unit) is consumed per day. Anything above this is dangerous and can lead to potential fetal damage.


If you’ve already consumed any of the foods on our list, there’s no need to worry. As long as it didn’t make you ill when you ate it, it’s unlikely it caused any damage to your baby. If you still have doubts, or perhaps it did make you sick, then please, contact your doctor if you’d like to be sure.

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Jude Uchella is a research writer and a strong advocate for health and fitness. He takes pleasure in helping people live their best life. When he's not writing, he's probably researching the next topic to write about. :)