top of page

Foods to avoid during pregnancy

It can feel overwhelming when you’re told what you can and can’t eat and drink during pregnancy. No one likes to be told what not to do, especially when you’re advised to avoid so many foods that you would otherwise be enjoying if you weren’t pregnant.

However, the advice is there to keep you and your baby safe and healthy, and that means avoiding certain foods and drinks in your diet until after your baby is born.

It can be confusing to know what you can and can’t eat when you’re pregnant. So, here’s the lowdown…

Foods to avoid during pregnancy: Alcohol

Drinking alcohol when you’re pregnant can lead to long-term health implications for your baby. Researchers have yet to determine a safe amount that you can consume during pregnancy, so it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether when pregnant.

However, cooking with alcohol – such as adding some red wine to a bolognese – is safe because the alcohol is removed during the cooking process.

If you’re finding it difficult to give up alcohol while pregnant, speak to your doctor or midwife.


A high caffeine intake has been linked to pregnancy complications, so it’s recommended to reduce the amount of caffeine you have as much as possible during pregnancy.

Experts recommend that you have no more than 200mg of caffeine a day. Unsure what that looks like?

Here’s a quick guide:

  • A mug of filter coffee has around 140mg of caffeine

  • A mug of instant coffee has around 100mg of caffeine

  • A 250ml energy drink has around 80mg of caffeine

  • A mug of tea has around 75mg of caffeine

  • A can of cola has around 40mg of caffeine

  • A bar of plain chocolate has around 25mg of caffeine

If you drink sports drinks, remember to check the amount of caffeine in these too, as some of them include caffeine.

While decaffeinated drinks tend to contain a very small amount of caffeine, they’re a much safer option during pregnancy, so can be a good choice if you drank a lot of caffeinated drinks before you got pregnant.

Some painkillers also contain caffeine. These are best avoided during pregnancy. Always speak to your pharmacist or midwife before taking any medication when pregnant, including cold and flu remedies.

Unpasteurised milk and dairy products

The majority of milk sold in shops and restaurants in the UK is pasteurised and perfectly fine to have during pregnancy. Pasteurised means it’s been treated to kill off any bacteria and prevent illness. Unpasteurised (raw) products, which you can often find in farm shops, should be avoided when you’re pregnant.

Avoid soft unpasteurised cheeses like goat’s cheese, soft blue cheeses like Roquefort, and soft cheeses that have a white coating on the outside like brie and camembert, unless they’ve been cooked until steaming hot.

Pasteurised soft cheeses such as mozzarella, feta, halloumi and ricotta are fine to eat during pregnancy. Likewise, unpasteurised hard cheeses are also safe.

If you’re in any doubt about what dairy products you can have, speak to your midwife or play it safe and stick to hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan and gruyere.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy: Certain meats

While you may order your steak on the raw side when you’re at a restaurant, it’s best to ensure any meat you eat is well cooked during pregnancy to avoid causing any harm to you or your baby.

Cured meats like chorizo, parma ham and salami are also best avoided unless they’ve been cooked first. For instance, it’s safe to eat a cooked pepperoni pizza.

Liver contains a high level of vitamin A, which can be harmful to your baby. So, avoid eating liver and liver products while you’re pregnant. Foods that contain a small amount of vitamin A naturally – like carrots – are fine to eat.

Avoid all types of pâté during pregnancy, including vegetable pâté. This is because they may contain listeria, which is a bacteria that can cause infection.

Certain fish

It’s fine to eat most cooked fish while you’re pregnant, and it’s actually recommended to eat at least two portions of fish a week, as it’s a good source of vitamins and minerals.

However, you should limit the amount of certain fish you eat. For instance, it’s advised that you eat no more than two portions of oily fish a week – this includes salmon, herring, trout and mackerel.

Tuna fish contains more mercury than other fish, which can be harmful for your baby. So, avoid eating more than two tuna steaks a week or four medium-sized tins of tuna a week during your pregnancy.

It’s best to avoid eating raw fish and shellfish if you’re pregnant, as it can cause food poisoning. Sushi is fine to eat, as long as any fish in it has been cooked.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy: Eggs

Be careful with eggs when you’re pregnant. Unless they’re British Lion eggs – laid under the Laid in Britain scheme – make sure the whole egg, including the yolk, is well cooked.

This is because eggs produced under the Laid in Britain scheme are less likely to have salmonella in them, which can cause food poisoning. Thankfully, over 90% of UK eggs are produced under this scheme.

Using eggs in cooked recipes like cakes is safe, but avoid homemade mayonnaise and mousses, unless you know they’ve been made with British Lion eggs.

Always make sure you check the best before date of your eggs before you use them, and don’t use any eggs that have a crack in them.

Eat safe

If you’re in any doubt about what you can and can’t eat while pregnant, or if you’re craving anything that you’ve been advised not to eat, seek help from your doctor or midwife.

If you’ve eaten or drunk anything that you’ve been advised not to, try not to panic. If it didn’t make you ill at the time, it’s unlikely to have affected you or your baby. Seek help from your doctor or midwife if you’re worried.


New Fawn Photography – based in Newport - specialises in newborn, baby, and maternity photography for families in and around South Wales.

Want to know more about Maternity Photoshoots? Visit the dedicated page

2 views0 comments


bottom of page