What Foods Should I Avoid in Pregnancy?

What Foods Should I Avoid in Pregnancy?

It is important for pregnant patients to eat well balanced meals and get all the essential vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. It is important for pregnant women to avoid illness that can be spread by food and certain techniques to avoid food poisoning in pregnancy include:

  • Washing food thoroughly prior to consumption
  • Keeping kitchen, cooking instruments, and hands clean while cooking/preparing foods
  • Avoid all raw or undercooked seafood, eggs, and meats

A serious infection that can impact pregnant women is Listeriosis, which is caused by consuming food contaminated with the bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes.  Pregnant women are 13 times more likely to get listeriosis than non pregnant women. The symptoms of listeriosis can be flu-like symptoms, such as fever, body aches, and diarrhea. However, many women have no symptoms. Listeriosis can lead to miscarraige, stillbirth, and premature delivery. To help prevent listeriosis, women should avoid the following foods while pregnant: 

  • Unpasteurized milk and foods made with unpasteurized milk like certain types of cheeses (Brie, Roquefort, Queso Fresco)
  • Hot dogs, lunch meats, cold cuts (unless they are heated)
  • Refrigerated pate and meat spreads
  • Refrigerated smoked seafoods
  • Raw and undercooked seafood, egg, and meat 

High levels of mercury can be damaging to fetal brain development, thus fish high in mercury should be avoided in pregnancy. Fish types that should be avoided in pregnancy include swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark. Fishes like tuna and snapper should be limited to one serving per week in pregnancy. 

The consumption of caffeine in pregnancy is permitted, but patients are encouraged to consume less than 200mg of caffeine daily, which is about one 12 ounce cup of coffee.

There is no amount of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy, therefore alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy. 


  1. https://www.acog.org/-/media/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/co650.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20200121T0817366257
  2. https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Practice-Bulletins/Committee-on-Practice-Bulletins-Obstetrics/Obesity-in-Pregnancy
  3. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Routine-Tests-During-Pregnancy
  4. https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Guidelines-for-Perinatal-Care
  5. https://www.acog.org/-/media/Practice-Bulletins/Committee-on-Practice-Bulletins----Obstetrics/pb209.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20200123T0456184625
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/index.html
  7. https://americanpregnancy.org/is-it-safe/mercury-levels-in-sushi/
  8. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-vitamins/art-20046945
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Disclaimer: This is general medical information and not specific medical advice.  It does not and should not replace diagnosis or treatment by your healthcare provider. If you are seeking personal recommendations, advice, and/or treatment, please consult your physician. If you have an emergency, you should contact 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.