Foods to Avoid when Pregnant

Published : 20/03/2024

Last updated: 14/07/2024

Hey would be mama, you have probably started eating healthy and taking prenatal vitamins to support you and the tiny human you plan to welcome.


Intake of healthy nutrients benefit the baby, but knowing what not to eat or drink is also essential before and during pregnancy. The little one can be affected by alcohol, smoking, caffeine, high-mercury fish and sometimes harmful bacteria hidden in certain foods.


Therefore, it is better to be cautious and avoid items that can make you sick or affect your little ones growth and development.

Why should you be picky with foods?

A to be mothers immune system can have a hard time fighting germs. So, foods that has tendency to contain illness causing bacteria such as listeria, salmonella, or E. coli can make you sick or suffer complications around the time of pregnancy. 


Furthermore, bacteria in contaminated food can cross into the placenta. This is of serious concern since, the baby’s immune system, is not strong enough in the womb, therefore the little one can develop infection or other complications.

The Foods to avoid during pregnancy

Unpasteurized diary products and juices

Soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk can harbor listeria and other pathogens. However, hard cheese like cheddar or Swiss is considered safe, do check the label to confirm that it’s made with pasteurized milk.

It is important to completely avoid unpasteurized juices like apple cider or fresh-squeezed Orange juices. Unpasteurized Juices that are treated with UV radiation are probably fine.

Underdone or raw seafood

Before you next visit the local sushi joint, for raw oysters, clams, ceviche’s, fish tartars or some smoked seafood, please note that uncooked or seared seafood is completely off-limits for the duration of pregnancy. Since these meals have a high chance of containing a bacteria or parasite, which is too risky for a new mother.

Undercooked or rare meat

Pink meat is a ‘no no’ during pregnancy, so medium rare steaks or underdone poultry are off-limits as well. Only properly cooked lean meat is preferred during pregnancy

Undercooked meats is a carrier of bacteria like E. coli, trichinella, salmonella, these can cause food poisoning or toxoplasmosis (an infection that can cause severe complications to the baby).

Processed or preserved food

Processed foods such as hot dogs and salamis are preserved with nitrates and nitrites, food preservation chemicals that are bad for a developing fetus, when consumed in fairly high amounts. Also these processed foods along with some premade deli salads can contain listeria, a bacteria, that can cause serious food-borne illness. 

Undercooked or raw eggs

Although eggs are a vital source of nutrients, avoid consuming raw egg meals, for example soft scrambled eggs, mouse or homemade ice cream, raw batter or cookie dough, homemade mayonnaise, tiramisu, and home made eggnog. these products carry the risk of containing salmonella, unless prepared with pasteurized eggs. Therefore thoroughly cook eggs for safe consumption.

High-mercury fishes

Fishes contain a chunk of brain and mood boosting Omega-3s. But it is highly recommended to steer clear of fishes that have high-mercury content, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, orange roughy, big eye tuna, and tilefish from the gulf of Mexico. 


It is also recommended to limit intake to less than 6 Ounces per week for albacore tuna, grouper, snapper, wild stripped bass, and halibut.

The best fishes to have during pregnancy are wild salmon, pollack, skipjack tuna, freshwater trout, sole, tilapia, shrimp, sardines anchovies and scallops. With no more than two -three servings, and properly cooked.

Raw Sprouts 

Raw sprouts such as alfalfa or bean sprouts have been observed to contain E. coli and salmonella, therefore its best to avoid them during pregnancy.

Good substitutes are baby spinach, arugula, or beans.

Habits to avoid during pregnancy


You might have heard that an occasional drink is fine during pregnancy, but it’s best to strictly prohibit yourself from any drinking habit during pregnancy.


This is because alcohol enters the bloodstream of your baby in the same concentration as yours, and takes almost two times longer to leave!


Drinking too much caffeine is unhealthy, as it interferes with the body’s ability to absorb iron, which in turn can lead to anemia.


So it’s best limit your caffeine consumption to 200mg per day. FYI soda’s and energy drinks have caffeine too, check their label before consumption.


It’s really hard for smokers womb to conceive and carry a fetus, because smoking ages a woman’s eggs. Additionally, heavy smoking damages ovaries and uterus and affects hormone production which increases the chances of a miscarriage. Fortunately, fertility rate recovers within days of quitting.


Further more there can be a lot of serious complications for baby’s born to pregnant mothers who smoke:


The carbon monoxide exposure from smoking reduces oxygen in the bloodstream, which is bad for baby’s growth and development.


Smoking can cause birth defects such as cleft lip, cleft palate, heart defects and limb malformations.


Smoking can damage the placenta of a mother, which can cause premature birth or low birth weight.


Babies who are exposed to smoke in the womb are seriously likely to develop respiratory problems like asthma or bronchiolitis.

A Gentle Nudge from Mammas Journey

Pregnancy is a journey that starts from growing a tiny human inside of you, to watching them sit up by themselves to experiencing their wholesome first steps!


Know that all these cut down will be worth beyond words as you experience life with a healthy baby, so it is better to be safe than sorry..


Get your partner on board! Encourage them to stay active and get ready for the exciting journey. You both have to cut down on alcohol, quit smoking and eat well.


May you find the strength to purge bad foods and bad habits from your routine, Mammas Journey wishes you all the luck you need to the become best of parents! 

Scroll to Top