9 Foods To Avoid While You Are Pregnant

foods to avoid while pregnant

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the worst foods that you should avoid if you are pregnant and why.


Pregnancy is a defining stage in a woman’s life. Biological, hormonal, and emotional changes take over the body and mind during pregnancy. A woman’s body is in an extremely sensitive state when she is pregnant. As a result, it becomes important for expecting mothers to take proper care.

‘Proper care’ implies both physical and emotional care. A woman’s diet during pregnancy also impacts the health of her child. Thus, a proper diet is also central for the healthy being of a to-be mother.

Foods To Avoid While Pregnant

Craving different foods during pregnancy are not abnormal. However, some foods can be detrimental to pregnant women’s health. Hence, such foods must be avoided at all costs. A list of some of these foods is as under.

1. High-Mercury Fish

Pregnant women shouldn’t consume mercury-rich fish. These include shark, tuna, mackerel, and swordfish. These are large fishes that contain high traces of mercury. It is an extremely toxic and dangerous element. Mercury is known to cause birth defects in children. It can also have adverse effects on the nervous system of the expecting mother. Mercury also harms the kidneys and impairs renal function. 

Although, you must take note that not all kinds of fish are harmful to consume. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids promote the healthy development of the fetus. Omega-3 is also known to promote brain health. However, servings of such fish must be limited to no more than twice a week.

2. Raw or Under-cooked Meat and Fish

These food products are carriers of deadly bacteria and viruses such as salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. They can cause severe diarrhea and fever in people with weak immune systems. Processed meat preparations like ground meat patties and hot dogs should also be avoided. As for cold cuts and deli meats, they should be consumed only after being suitably heated.

Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to contract a Listeria infection. It may not affect the mother, but Listeria can have harmful effects on the baby. Listeria is also linked to premature birth, stillbirth, and miscarriage. Expecting mothers should stay away from processed meats due to high contamination chances.

3. Organ Meat

Copper, vitamins A, and B12 are good for expecting mothers as well as their children. However, it is advised to avoid consuming these nutrients from animal sources like organ meat. The liver and other organs contain high amounts of vitamin A. Unduly high traces of it can cause vitamin A poisoning, which is harmful to the human liver. 

Also, high amounts of copper are known to cause birth defects in children. Therefore, pregnant women should not consume more than one serving of such organ meat in a week.

Also Read: Best Multivitamins For Women

4. Caffeine

Everyone loves a good cup of tea or coffee. But, if you’re pregnant, consider staying away from tea and coffee for some time. Doctors recommend not going over more than 2-3 cups of tea or coffee in a single day. 

Caffeine can be easily absorbed into the placenta. It can restrict fetal growth. The enzyme needed for metabolizing caffeine is absent in infants. Thus, high levels of caffeine can build up in the child’s body. This can increase the risk of chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Caffeine also leads to low birth weight in newborn children, thus indicative of poor health.

5. Alcohol

This should not come as a surprise to you. Alcohol has several adverse effects on the human body. Liquor consumption is known to impact cognition in the long run. Alcohol is also linked to a variety of diseases such as stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions. You should completely abstain from alcohol when pregnant.

Alcohol can cause birth defects in infants. It can also result in a condition known as fetal alcohol syndrome. This can cause facial deformities and cardiovascular issues in infants. Even worse, alcohol consumption could also lead to cardiovascular conditions in newborn babies; making it one of the worst foods to avoid if you’re pregnant.

6. Raw Sprouts

Pregnant women are advised to stay away from raw sprouts. A humid environment is required for the seeds to sprout. However humid environments serve as breeding grounds for salmonella. As we know, pregnant women are at an increased risk of contracting salmonella. And the worst part is that salmonella bacteria cannot be washed off. However, if you wish to consume sprouts, it is better to have them cooked.

7. Unpasteurized Dairy Products

Dairy and cheese are great sources of good fats and proteins. However, these products are also carriers of bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, and campylobacter. Dairy or cheese can be contaminated with bacteria during processing. This contamination can lead to infections which could prove to be fatal for the unborn child. 

Pasteurization is a process that rids the milk of all its bacteria without affecting is nutritional value. Therefore, pregnant women who wish to consume milk or cheese should always check the label and choose the pasteurized product.

8. Raw Eggs

Eggs are a great source of proteins, good fats, and essential micronutrients. But, just like most animal products, eggs have a high chance of salmonella contamination. Pregnant women should hence stay away from raw eggs. At the same time, expecting mothers should also avoid dishes that use raw eggs even in mild amounts. 

These dishes include homemade mayonnaise and other salad dressings. Hence, always have your eggs in a well-cooked fashion. You can also look for the ‘red lion’ seal on the eggs when shopping. These eggs are processed under defined safety standards and have a very low salmonella risk.

9. Unwashed Farm Produce

Toxoplasma is a dangerous parasite found on fruits and vegetables. It is known to cause serious birth defects in children. These include intellectual disabilities and blindness in newborn infants. Farm fresh vegetables can also be carriers for other bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. Therefore, it is always advised to wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming them. For additional safeguards, it is better to eat peeled and cooked fruits and vegetables.

Also Read: Benefits Of Birth Control Pills Other Than Preventing Pregnancy

Foods To Avoid While Pregnant: Wrap Up

Proper care must be taken to ensure a nutrient-rich diet for the expecting mother. This will help in improving immunity and support the good health of the child. However, some foods must also be avoided, as they can be harmful to both the mother and the child. Following the doctor’s advice and maintaining proper hygiene must be a top priority for pregnant women.