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Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

While you’re pregnant, you’ll find yourself thinking more about what you eat. It's not all bad, there are a few watchouts. You should be able to make the right choices without too much effort – and plan in advance to eat right.

4 mins
to read Nov 5, 2016

So what should you avoid, now you’re pregnant?

Here’s a list of things you should avoid while you’re pregnant because they may harm you or your baby. For your own peace of mind, stay away from them. If you decide on a healthy diet from the start of your pregnancy, you won’t need to worry about what to eat and what not to eat when pregnant.

On the bright side there are lot's of foods to still choose from.


Alcohol is absorbed quickly into your body and that of your unborn baby via your bloodstream. For some, it can also be a depressant, and slows the nervous system. If you drink heavily while pregnant, your baby could suffer from foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which can damage its health for life. So it’s safest to say no to alcohol while you’re pregnant.

Raw meat and seafood

Eating undercooked or raw meat and seafood, such as sushi, puts you at risk of listeria and salmonella poisoning, which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or premature labour. Listeria infection can be passed onto the baby.

Deli meat, pates and meat spreads

Refrigerated meat products like pates, ham and salami may be contaminated with listeria bacteria. It’s best to avoid these foods.

Raw eggs

Raw eggs and products containing them may contain salmonella. Avoid raw cake batter, raw cookie dough, homemade ice cream, custards, mayonnaise, unpasteurised eggnog or hollandaise sauce and caesar salad dressings.

Soft cheese

Avoid feta, brie, ricotta and camembert cheese, blue-vein cheese, queso blanco, queso fresco and panela as they may be contaminated with listeria. They are only safe to eat if served cooked and hot.

Precooked or pre-prepared cold foods that are not re heated

Pre-prepared cold foods like salads and quiches may be contaminated with listeria and should be avoided.

Liver in very small quantities

Although liver is a rich source of iron, it contains high levels of vitamin A. If eaten to excess, this can be harmful to your baby and lead to severe birth defects. If you wish to eat liver, it is recommended that you consume only small amounts (50g per week at the most). The recommended intake is no more than 800 micrograms/day.

Unpasteurised dairy products and soft serve ice–cream

These foods may be contaminated with listeria bacteria which can be dangerous to your baby.

Fish containing Mercury

Fish is recommended during pregnancy as it is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids which are needed for brain and nervous tissue development in your baby. However due to certain types of fish containing high levels of mercury which can be harmful to your baby you need:

  • Limit to one serve (150g) per fortnight – billfish (swordfish, broadbill and marlin) and shark (flake), with no other fish eaten in that fortnight.
  • Limit to one serve (150g) per week – orange roughy (deep sea perch) or catfish, with no other fish eaten that week.
  • Eat 2–3 serves per week – of any other fish or seafood (for example, salmon or tuna).


Caffeinated beverages include tea, coffee and cola drinks. The Australian and New Zealand food standards allow a moderate amount of caffeine (e.g. up to 2-3 cups coffee) per day while you are pregnant. Having large amounts of caffeine may make it more difficult to become pregnant and may increase the risk of miscarriage or having a low birth weight baby.

Energy drinks can contain caffeine

Caffeine and /or guarana and are not recommended during pregnancy.

If you have any concerns about the safety of your food, consult the expertise of a dietitian or your usual health care professional.

Discover more about pregnancy diet myths.

Related FAQ's
Is it Safe to Drink Soda Water During Pregnancy?

For most women, yes, it is safe to drink soda water during pregnancy. Like all processed foods and drinks, moderation is key. Soda water is a carbonated water, commonly made by pumping dissolved carbon dioxide as a gas into water, but it can also occur in nature from special natural springs. While plain tap water is most appropriate, a plain un-sweetened soda water can be a much healthier choice than other sweetened carbonated drinks.

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Are Fermented Foods Safe During Pregnancy?

Fermented foods such as yoghurt, probiotic drinks, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and kombucha have been growing in popularity for the role they play in providing ‘friendly’ bacteria to the gut. However for homemade fermented foods there is the concern during pregnancy that while it increases good bacteria, there’s always a risk that bad bacteria will grow in these products. Commercially available fermented products are the best choice, and if you're concerned, speak to your healthcare professional for advice.

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Is Too Much Spicy Food Bad During Pregnancy?

Spices and spicy food don’t pose any food-related health risks to you or your unborn child. If, however spicy foods are not your usual food choice, it may create the same discomforts as it does to anyone who eats them – burning sensations and tummy upsets – which may not be worth it if added to your usual pregnancy discomforts. If it’s a craving your having, start slow and monitor for unwanted symptoms.

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When Should You Have a Prenatal Check-up?

Most women like to try and see their doctor for a prenatal (pre-birth) check up as soon as they find out they are pregnant which is around 6-8 weeks. From there, visits will likely occur every 4-6 weeks and become more regular as you get closer to your due date, or as often as your health care professional deems necessary. As every woman is unique and different in their pregnancy journey, your health care professional will help guide how often these should be.

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When is Third Trimester?

The third trimester is from 24 - 40 weeks. This is based on an average gestation of 40 weeks but in reality this final trimester will continue until your baby is born. This is the business end of pregnancy; your baby will be growing quite big now and all the last pieces are coming together in preparation for your baby’s arrival.

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How Long is Pregnancy?

Pregnancy on average is about 40 weeks. As pregnancy is counted from the first day of a woman’s last period, this means the baby is inside the womb for about 37-38 weeks to fully develop. A baby born prior to 37 weeks is considered ‘preterm’ and in most cases women will be induced if the baby hasn’t arrived on their own terms by 42 weeks.

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When Do You Start Showing in Pregnancy?

The rate of weight gain and growth around the stomach varies widely among women, and can even change from one pregnancy to the next for the same woman so unfortunately there is no straight answer for this question. Your height, body shape, and the size of your baby will all influence this. Your health care professional will take various measurements throughout your pregnancy to track your progress and make sure you’re progressing safely.

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How Many Weeks is The First Trimester?

The first trimester starts from the day of conception (when an egg is fertilised by sperm) to about 12 weeks.  This is based on an average gestation of 40 weeks. Apart from morning sickness a lot of what is happening during this trimester is not felt or seen by the naked eye.

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When to Take a Pregnancy Test

A regular home pregnancy test should be taken from around 11 days after your missed period. If you’re not keen to wait, there are early response pregnancy tests available for around 6 days before your missed period. The directions on pack will advise the best time of day to do the test, however urine is more concentrated upon waking, so taking the test in the morning may increase its accuracy. Keep in mind that home pregnancy tests are useful as a first indication, but you should visit your healthcare professional for confirmation of the result.

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When is Second Trimester?

The second trimester is from 12 – 24 weeks.  This is based on an average gestation of 40 weeks. The second trimester is often referred to as the ‘honeymoon’ phase as you start to get some energy back and morning sickness eases.  A lot of mums start to see their little bump growing and may even feel first kicks.

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