20 Food to Avoid During Pregnancy

There are some types of foods that you should avoid during pregnancy because they might make you ill or harm your baby. Ensure facts about which foods you should avoid or take extra care of during your pregnancy. The best choice to eat is freshly cooked or freshly prepared food items.

Fast facts about eating during pregnancy:

  • During pregnancy, calorie intake grows. During pregnancy a pregnant woman does not eat for two; her calorie consumption just goes up a few hundred calories a day for most pregnant women.
  • Typical weight gain, if the pregnant woman is carrying just one baby, varies considerably based on pre-pregnancy weight and various other factors. During pregnancy, an underweight woman is recommended to gain the most, whereas an overweight woman is recommended to gain the least.
  • During pregnancy, a woman’s body absorbs iron more efficiently and blood volume increases, so she has to consume more iron to ensure that both she and her baby have an adequate amount of oxygen supply.

During Pregnancy Food to Avoid

Cheese

During pregnancy avoid eating mould-ripened soft cheese, such as brie, camembert and chevre (a type of goat’s cheese) and others with a similar rind. And also avoid soft blue-veined cheeses such as Danish blue or gorgonzola. These are made with a mould and they can contain listeria, a type of bacteria that can harm a baby.
Although infection with listeria (listeriosis) is rare, it is necessary to take precautions during pregnancy because even a mild form of the illness during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in your newborn baby.
You can eat hard cheeses like parmesan, cheddar and stilton, even if they’re made with unpasteurised milk. These cheeses don’t contain as much water as soft cheeses so harmful bacteria are less likely to grow in them. Many other types of cheese you can eat like cottage cheese, mozzarella, cream cheese, paneer, halloumi, goat’s cheese and processed cheeses but ensure that they are made from pasteurised milk.

Pâté

During pregnancy avoid all types of pâté, including vegetable pâtés, as they can contain listeria.

Raw or partially cooked eggs

Ensure that eggs are properly cooked until the whites and yolks are solid. This prevents you from the risk of salmonella food poisoning. Avoid eating raw and undercooked eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise.

Raw or undercooked meat

Cooked all meat and poultry products thoroughly so it is steaming hot and there is no trace of pink or blood. Take particular care of meat like poultry, pork, sausages and minced meat, including burgers.
Avoid eating rare meat. Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite that can be found in meat, soil, cat faeces and untreated water. During pregnancy, the infection can damage your baby, but toxoplasmosis in pregnancy is very rare.
It’s also necessary to wash and dry your hands after touching or handling raw meat to avoid the spread of harmful bugs such as salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli that can cause food poisoning.

Liver products

Avoid eating liver or liver products like liver pâté or liver sausage, as they may contain a lot of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can be harmful to your baby.

Vitamin A Supplement

Avoid taking high-dose multivitamin supplements, fish liver oil supplements.

Some types of fish

Fish contains protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids, so it is crucial during pregnancy. But, some types of fish have higher levels of mercury, which can affect your baby’s developing nervous system.
Remember, limit your intake of fish with higher levels of mercury. Fish such as shark (flake), broadbill, marlin and swordfish should be eaten no more than once a fortnight and avoid eating any other fish during that fortnight. Fish such as orange roughy and catfish should be eaten no more than once a week, and avoid eating other fish during that week.
For more information visit Food Standards Australia.

Raw shellfish

Avoid eating raw shellfish as it can contain toxic bacteria and viruses that can cause food poisoning and have a higher risk of listeria contamination.

Pre-packaged salads

Pre-prepared or pre-packaged fruit or vegetable salads have a higher risk of listeria contamination.

Certain fruit and vegetables

Due to salmonella, during pregnancy, avoid eating rockmelon due to a risk of listeria or bean sprouts.

Sushi

During pregnancy avoid eating chilled seafood such as raw oysters, sashimi and sushi, smoked ready-to-eat seafood and cooked ready-to-eat prawns, which have a higher risk of listeria contamination.
Choose the fully cooked or vegetarian varieties, such as those that include:

  • cooked seafood, like fully cooked eel (unagi) or shrimp (Ebi)
  • vegetables, like, cucumber (kappa) maki
  • avocado — California roll
  • fully cooked egg

Cold cured meats

Cold cured meats include chorizo, salami, parma ham, and pepperoni. Avoid eating cold cured meats or smoked fish as there is a small risk of these foods harbouring listeria, or the Toxoplasma parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. These include:

Unpasteurised milk

Drink only pasteurised or UHT (ultra-heat treated) milk (also called long-life milk). If you have raw (unpasteurised) milk, boil it first. Avoid drinking unpasteurised goat’s or sheep’s milk or food to avoid that is made out of them, such as soft goat’s cheese.
And also avoid eating soft-serve ice-creams while you’re pregnant as they have a higher risk of listeria contamination.

Alcohol

There is no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy. Whether you are planning a pregnancy or already pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid to drinking alcohol is the safest choice as alcohol can harm your unborn baby.

Caffeine

During pregnancy high levels of caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage, low baby birth weight and experiencing a difficult birth. Caffeine is naturally found in foods, such as coffee, tea and chocolate, and is added to some types of soft drinks and energy drinks.
Don’t have more than 200mg a day. The approximate amounts of caffeine found in various types of food and drinks are:

  • 1 cup of instant coffee: 60mg
  • 1 shot of espresso coffee: 100mg
  • 1 cup of plunger coffee: 80mg
  • 1 cup of tea: 30mg
  • 375ml can of cola: 49mg
  • 250ml can of energy drink: 80mg
  • 100g bar of milk chocolate: 20mg

No need to worry if you occasionally have more than 200mg, the risks are quite small. To cut down on caffeine, try decaffeinated tea and coffee, fruit juice or mineral water.

Energy drinks

Energy drinks avoid pregnancy as they may contain high levels of caffeine, and other ingredients are not recommended for pregnant women.

Foods with soil on them

Wash fruit, vegetables and salads properly to remove all traces of soil and visible dirt. Learn more about safe food preparation.

Raw sprouts

Avoid eating raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts, which may be contaminated with Salmonella.
The humid environment required by seeds to start sprouting is ideal for bacteria, and they’re almost impossible to wash off.
So, advised avoiding raw sprouts altogether. However, sprouts are safe to consume after they have been cooked properly.

Processed junk foods

You’ll need increased amounts of many essential nutrients during pregnancy, such as protein, folate, choline, and iron.
An optimal pregnancy diet plan should mainly consist of whole foods, with plenty of nutrients to fulfil your and your baby’s needs. Processed junk foods are low in nutrients and high in calories, sugar, and added fats.
During pregnancy stick to meals and snacks that focus on vegetables and fruits, protein, healthy fats, and fibre-rich carbohydrates like beans, whole grains, and starchy vegetables.

Unwashed produce

The surface of unwashed or unpeeled fruits and vegetables may be contaminated with several types of bacteria and parasites, for example, Toxoplasma, E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria, which can be acquired from the soil or through handling.
Most babies who are infected with the Toxoplasma bacteria while still in the womb have no symptoms at birth. However, symptoms like blindness or intellectual disabilities later in life.
During pregnancy, it’s very important to minimize the risk of infection by thoroughly washing with water, peeling, or cooking fruits and vegetables. Keep this habit after the baby arrives, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I eat shellfish during pregnancy?

Cooked shellfish is safe to eat during pregnancy but raw shellfish can cause food poisoning and you should avoid eating it.
Shellfish includes:

  • prawns
  • crab
  • lobster
  • mussels
  • cockles
  • oysters.

Can I eat sushi during pregnancy?

Sushi is normally safe to eat during pregnancy. With some raw fish, need to check it has been frozen first, which makes it safe to eat.
Fish such as smoked salmon used to make sushi does not need to be frozen before it is used because it has been cured. During pregnancy, only eat cooked shellfish. Avoid eating any sushi containing raw shellfish.
If you make sushi at home, ensure you freeze the fish for at least 4 days before using it.

Can I eat peanuts during pregnancy?

It is safe to eat peanuts during pregnancy unless you have been advised not to by a healthcare expert or you have a nut allergy.

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