Foods to Avoid When Pregnant

Article By
Kate
Published On
22 Feb, 2021
Read Time
5 minutes

When you're expecting a baby, it's essential to pay close attention to what you're eating. Not only does your diet impact your well-being, but it can also affect the health of your developing baby.

While there are plenty of nutritious options to include in your meals, it's equally important to know which foods to avoid during pregnancy.

In this post, we'll go over some of the foods that expecting parents should stay away from and why they can be harmful.

Eggs

Can you eat eggs when pregnant?

Yes, but any eggs you do eat need to be thoroughly cooked, which means no runny yolks.

Can you eat mayonnaise when pregnant?

Yes, commercial mayonnaise that contains pasteurised eggs can be eaten if it's safely stored in the fridge, but you should avoid homemade mayonnaise.

Seafood and shellfish

Can you eat seafood when pregnant?

Shellfish, molluscs, and crustaceans come under the "seafood" umbrella. Fish isn't considered seafood. Most types of seafood are safe to eat when fully cooked, but we'll talk through each type one-by-one below for clarity.

Can you eat shellfish when pregnant?

Yes, but you should avoid raw shellfish and make sure that any shellfish you do eat is cooked thoroughly to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

Can you eat prawns when pregnant?

Cooked prawns are safe to eat while you're pregnant, but they can cause food poisoning if eaten raw. They should be cooked through until steaming hot.

Don't eat pre-cooked prawns as they may not have been freshly cooked.

Can you eat lobster when pregnant?

Yes, freshly cooked lobster is safe to eat, but if it's eaten raw it can cause food poisoning. Any lobster you eat while pregnant should be cooked through until steaming hot.

Can you eat mussels when pregnant?

Cooked mussels are safe to eat, but raw ones should be avoided because they can cause food poisoning. They need to be fully cooked through until steaming hot, and you should always avoid eating closed mussels.

It's also worth noting that mussels and clams are often cooked in a white wine sauce that needs to be thoroughly cooked to allow the alcohol to evaporate. For this reason, some pregnant people choose to avoid sauces cooked with wine or other types of alcohol. 

Can you eat squid when pregnant?

Cooked squid is safe to eat but it can cause food poisoning if eaten raw. Squid should be fully cooked through until steaming hot.

Can you eat oysters when pregnant?

Cooked oysters are safe to eat but raw ones can cause food poisoning. They should be fully cooked through until steaming hot.

Fish

Can you eat fish while pregnant?

The amount of shark, swordfish, broadbill, or marlin you eat while pregnant should be limited to once a fortnight. And orange roughy (sea perch) and catfish should be limited to once a week with no other fish eaten at that time.

You should also limit your intake of tuna (and other oily fish) to no more than four medium-sized cans, or two fresh tuna steaks a week. This is because they contain unsafe levels of mercury which may be harmful to your baby's nervous system.

Can you eat smoked fish while pregnant?

No, smoked fish should be avoided because smoking alone doesn't illuminate the risk of listeria.

Can you eat sushi while pregnant?

Yes, you can eat homemade sushi while pregnant if the fish has been cooked thoroughly. Avoid store-bought sushi or sushi made with raw seafood or other fillings that's not freshly made.

Should I be 'eating for two' while pregnant?

The truth is that 'eating for two' is a bit of a myth. During the first six months of pregnancy the energy requirements of mums-to-be do not increase because your body adapts and becomes much more efficient at utilising the energy and nutrients from the food you eat.

When it comes to the last three months of pregnancy however, you may need an extra 200 calories or so a day to accommodate your growing baby.

It's normal for your appetite to fluctuate and your weight gradually increase during pregnancy, so it's important to listen to your body. But it's also important not to eat too much, and on the flip side, don't attempt to diet or lose weight during your pregnancy. Too much weight gain or loss can affect the health of you and your baby.

Dairy

Can you drink milk while pregnant?

Yes, you can drink milk if it's pasteurised.

Raw milk should be avoided because it can contain harmful bacteria that can cause listeria, among other dangerous diseases. And it's not just cow's milk to be mindful of - raw milk from goats, sheep or any other animal, can carry harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.  

When milk is pasteurised, it kills harmful bacteria by heating the milk but doesn't decrease its nutritional value.

Can you eat cheese while pregnant?

Most hard cheeses like cheddar or parmesan are safe to eat uncooked if they've been made with pasteurised milk.

Mould-ripened soft or blue-veined cheeses like brie, camembert or stilton are only safe to eat if they've been cooked.

Can you eat feta cheese when pregnant?

Pasteurised feta is safe to eat uncooked, but unpasteurised feta needs to be cooked first, for example in a tart or pasta dish.

Can you eat mozzarella when pregnant?

Yes, pasteurised mozzarella is safe to eat uncooked, but unpasteurised mozzarella needs to be cooked first, for example on a pizza.

Meat

Can you eat liver while pregnant?

You should limit your intake of liver to 50 grams per week because it contains high levels of vitamin A.

Avoid pâté that needs refrigeration before opening.

Drinks

Can you drink caffeine while pregnant?

Consuming large amounts of caffeine while you're pregnant can affect the growth and development of your unborn baby and can increase the risks of miscarriage.

It's best to limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200mg per day, that's approximately:

  • 1-2 cups of espresso-style coffee
  • 3 cups of instant coffee per day
  • 4-5 cups per day of tea or hot chocolate

Don't worry - you can always switch to decaf!

You should avoid energy drinks that contain guarana or caffeine.

Can you drink alcohol while pregnant?

If you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.

A tasty and healthy alternative to drinking alcohol while you're pregnant is non-alcoholic ginger beer. As well as being super scrumptious, ginger is also perfect for fighting morning sickness and nausea - win, win.  

Can you drink herbal teas while pregnant?

To be safe, you shouldn't drink more than four cups of herbal tea a day. This is because there's little evidence or data around herbs and their effects on pregnancy and a baby's development. You should opt for a variety of different teas so you're not having too much of any one kind and avoid medicinal or therapeutic doses of herbs all together.

Can you drink sugary drinks while pregnant?

Although artificial sweeteners in moderation are safe for pregnancy, you should try to avoid consuming too many sugary drinks throughout pregnancy.