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Which Foods Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?

Which Foods Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?
A balanced a nutritious diet is extremely important to make sure your baby gets all the nutrients it needs to grow.

Your diet also needs to give you energy for all the changes your body is going through when you are pregnant. Certain foods should be avoided whilst pregnant to prevent exposing yourself to the risk of food poisoning, which could potentially harm your baby.


Listeriosis is a rare, flu-like illness, which can be contracted from certain foods containing the listeria germ. Although rare in this country, listeriosis can cause stillbirth, miscarriage, or severe illness in newborn babies.

Remember to avoid the following foods when pregnant:

Soft cheese such as Camembert, Brie and Stilton. (Hard cheese such as Cheddar, cottage cheese and processed cheese are safe to eat)
All paté
Prepared salads such as potato salad and coleslaw
Ready-prepared meals or re-heated food, unless they are very hot all the way through.


Salmonella is a type of bacterial food poisoning found in unpasteurised milk, raw eggs, raw poultry and raw meat. It is unlikely to be harmful to your baby, but try to be cautious.

The following steps will reduce your risk of getting salmonella:
Avoid food containing raw or partially cooked eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise, and some mousses and sauces. Only eat eggs if they are cooked so the white and yellow parts are both solid
Avoid unpasteurised dairy products
Be careful eating meat at barbeques, parties and buffets because bacteria breed quickly on food that is left uncovered in a warm environment
Keep raw meat awaf from other food when storing it in the fridge or when preparing a meal. This is particularly important for food that is already cooked or that will be eaten raw
Meat and poultry should be cooked thoroughly, particularly sausages and mince meat. Always wash your hands after handling raw meat as well as cutlery or chopping boards that have been in contact with the meat.


Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite found in cat faeces. It can be found in raw or undercooked meat, and in the soil on unwashed fruit and vegetables. The infection is rare but can cause serious problems if passed to the baby.

You should avoid the following when pregnant:
Raw or undercooked meat
Unwashed raw fruit and vegetables
Unpasteurised goat's milk or goat's cheese.

Remember to avoid contact with soil or faeces that might contain the toxoplasmosis parasite. Wear gloves when gardening or handling a cat litter tray, and make sure your litter tray is thoroughly cleaned every day.

Vitamin A

You need some vitamin A in your diet, but having too much could lead to harming your baby. Avoid liver or liver products like pâté because liver contains high amounts of vitamin A. You should check with your doctor before taking multivitamins or cod liver oil supplements because these also contain vitamin A. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet you should get the right amount of vitamin A.


When pregnant, you should limit yourself to no more than two portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish (including fresh tuna, mackerel, sardines and trout) contain some pollutants, such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which should be avoided in large amounts.

Tuna contains a high level of mercury which can have a damaging effect on your baby's developing nervous system. The recommended weekly amount of tuna for a pregnant woman is one tuna steak, or four medium-sized tins (about 140g per can).
Shark, swordfish and marlin should also be avoided as they contain a high level of mercury. To reduce your chances of getting food poisoning, don't eat raw shellfish.


The Department of Health advises that pregnant women, and women who are trying to conceive, should avoid drinking alcohol. Heavy drinking and getting drunk whilst pregnant has been linked to many serious birth defects. You should not exceed 1-2 units of alcohol once or twice a week. Binge drinking (drinking several units of alcohol in one session)is extremely dangerous for you and your baby, and should be avoided completely.


Caffeine affects the way your body absorbs iron, which is very important for your babys development. High levels of caffeine can result in a baby having a low birth weight, or even miscarriage so try to limit your daily intake.
Coffee, tea, chocolate, some soft drinks and 'energy' drinks all contain caffeine. Do not consume more than 300mg of caffeine a day. 300mg is roughly equivalent to either:
Bullet3 mugs of instant coffee
Bullet3 cups of brewed coffee
Bullet6 cups of tea
Bullet8 cans of regular cola
Bullet8 standard bars of chocolate.

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