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What You Can't Eat When You're Pregnant

What You Can't Eat When You're Pregnant

Knowing what you can eat and what you can’t eat when you are pregnant is very important. It helps you avoid certain types of food that can harm either you or your baby. But not all pregnant women are aware of what you can’t eat when you’re pregnant. So we have made this handy list of foods that you should avoid as much as possible during your pregnancy.

10 Best Fruits to Eat When Pregnant

What You Can’t Eat When You’re Pregnant

Undercooked or raw meat

Undercooked or even raw meat, while considered a delicacy, can be risky for pregnant women. This is because undercooked or raw meat can sometimes have parasites or microorganisms that can cause serious illness if eaten.

So it would be a good idea to just avoid eating raw or undercooked meat entirely to lower your risk of getting sick.

Whenever you cook meat, be sure that it is not pink and that there’s no more blood on the meat. Eating a well-done burger or steak might not be as tasty as a medium rare one, but it is definitely safer and less risky for pregnant women to eat.

what you can't eat when you're pregnant

Unpasteurized dairy products

These days, because of food safety regulations, unpasteurized dairy products are relatively rare. However, drinking fresh milk from a farm or buying dairy products directly from a farm can sometimes mean that their products are not always pasteurized.

While these products are not necessarily harmful or bad, they can pose a risk for pregnant women because of possible contamination and bacteria found in the milk.

Raw or undercooked eggs

Raw or undercooked eggs pose the same risk as raw or undercooked meat and unpasteurized dairy products. In the case of eggs, there is a potential risk of salmonella infection if a pregnant woman eats raw eggs. Ideally, the white and the yolk should be cooked well and solid all the way through.

It is also advisable to avoid eating homemade mayonnaise or other food products that might contain raw eggs.

Certain types of cheese

Some types of moldy cheese, such as brie, camembert, and blue cheeses should be avoided during pregnancy.

The reason is that these types of cheese could contain listeria, which is a type of bacteria that could harm the baby. Listeria is so harmful that a mild infection can sometimes lead to a miscarriage or deformity in an unborn child.

what you can't eat when you're pregnant

Raw fish and shellfish

Raw fish and shellfish are another no-no during your pregnancy. This means that sushi and raw oysters are out of the menu.

Just like raw meat and eggs, the reason is that raw fish can contain microorganisms that can harm either you, or your unborn child. Even if the fish or shellfish was caught fresh when you eat it, it might still contain harmful bacteria or parasites.

The best thing to do would be to cook fish and seafood properly, and avoid eating them raw.

Certain types of fish

Despite seafood being a good source of protein and healthy fats, there are some types of fish that pregnant women need to avoid.

These include the following:

  • Marlin
  • King mackerel
  • Bigeye tuna
  • Swordfish
  • Shark

The reason is that these types of fish can possibly contain higher levels of mercury compared to other species. This means that if you eat these often and in large amounts, the mercury may affect your baby’s nervous system and cause congenital defects.

Instead, try eating fish like tilapia, sardines, canned tuna, shrimp, and catfish. Though it would be best to limit these to just two to three servings per week.


While eating liver might sound like a good idea because of the iron content, it could actually be bad for your baby. Eating too much liver can cause higher levels of vitamin A in your baby, which can be harmful to them.

Though it is not safe to eat it often, having a serving once or twice a month at most would be fine. Just be sure to avoid eating a lot at one time. Also, check that the liver is cooked properly.

Herbal teas and caffeine

Herbal teas and caffeine should be avoided during pregnancy. This is because herbal teas can sometimes contain substances that affect your baby and pregnancy. In addition, some herbal teas may contain certain ingredients that are harmful such as traces of heavy metal and contaminants.

Another problem is that some herbal teas contain caffeine, and caffeine in general should be avoided during pregnancy. Too much caffeine can potentially harm the baby (i.e. preterm labor, low birth weight baby, stillbirth), so it would be best to either drink fewer caffeinated drinks or to just avoid them entirely to be safe.

Alcoholic drinks

Lastly, alcoholic drinks are a big no-no during your pregnancy. Alcohol can cause unborn babies to suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause brain damage as well as developmental problems or delays.

Drinking alcohol also affects your judgment and motor skills, which means that you could accidentally hurt yourself and your baby if you get drunk.

By following our list of what you can’t eat when you’re pregnant, you can help ensure that you will have a healthy pregnancy, and your baby will be born safe and healthy.

Learn more about Being Pregnant here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Foods to avoid in pregnancy | Tommy’s, https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/nutrition-pregnancy/foods-avoid-pregnancy, Accessed September 22, 2020

Foods to avoid in pregnancy – NHS – NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/foods-to-avoid-pregnant/, Accessed September 22, 2020

Foods to avoid when pregnant | Pregnancy Birth and Baby, https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/foods-to-avoid-when-pregnant, Accessed September 22, 2020

Pregnancy nutrition: Foods to avoid during pregnancy – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20043844, Accessed September 22, 2020

Foods to eat or avoid when pregnant | NSW Food Authority, https://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/consumer/life-events-and-food/pregnancy/foods-to-eat-or-avoid-when-pregnant, Accessed September 22, 2020

Foods to Avoid When Pregnant :: American Pregnancy Association, https://americanpregnancy.org/is-it-safe/foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy-981, Accessed September 22, 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Feb 11
Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, M.D.