Here are 11 foods and beverages to avoid or minimize during pregnancy:
1) Processed Junk Foods
Eating processed foods during pregnancy can increase your risk of excess weight gain, gestational diabetes and complications. This can have long-term health implications for your child.
Pregnant women should not drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and fetal alcohol syndrome.
3) Unpasteurized Milk, Cheese and Fruit Juice
Pregnant women should not consume unpasteurized milk, cheese or fruit juice, as these foods increase the risk of bacterial infections.
4) Unwashed Produce
Fruits and vegetables may be contaminated with harmful bacteria, including Toxoplasma. It’s important to thoroughly rinse all fruits and vegetables.
5) Raw Sprouts
Raw sprouts may be contaminated with bacteria inside the seeds. Pregnant women should only eat cooked sprouts.
6) Raw Eggs
Raw eggs may be contaminated with Salmonella, which can lead to sickness and an increased risk of premature birth or stillbirth. Pasteurized eggs can be used instead.
Foods that commonly contain raw eggs include:
- Lightly scrambled eggs
- Poached eggs
- Hollandaise sauce
- Homemade mayonnaise
- Salad dressings
- Homemade ice cream
- Cake icings
Pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to 200 mg per day, which is about 2–3 cups of coffee. High caffeine intake during pregnancy can limit fetal growth and cause low birth weight.
8) Organ Meat
Organ meat is a great source of iron, vitamin B12, vitamin A and copper. To prevent vitamin A and copper toxicity, pregnant women are advised to limit their intake of organ meat to no more than once a week.
9) Undercooked, Raw and Processed Meat
Raw or undercooked meat may contain harmful bacteria. As a general rule, meat should be cooked all the way through.
10) Undercooked or Raw Fish
Raw fish and shellfish can be contaminated with bacteria and parasites. Some of these can cause adverse health effects and harm both the mother and unborn baby.
11) High-Mercury Fish
Pregnant women should not eat high-mercury fish more than 1–2 times each month. This includes shark, swordfish, tuna and mackerel.
High-mercury fish include:
- King mackerel
- Tuna (especially albacore tuna)
Proper food hygiene and preparation is always recommended, especially during pregnancy. However, this is not always easy to do, since some foods may already be contaminated when you purchase them. For this reason, it’s best to avoid the foods on this list as much as possible. Your health and that of your unborn child should come first.