Food considerations in pregnancy

Foods to avoid in pregnancy

  • Undercooked or partially cooked meat such as meat with pink or red juices as well as liver, game meats and pâté should be avoided to decrease the risk of toxoplasmosis. Liver contains too much vitamin A which can be harmful for the foetus. All meat including cold cured meats such as salami should be thoroughly cooked.
  • Partially cooked eggs and foods that may contain those (e.g., mousse, mayonnaise) should be avoided to reduce the risk of salmonella.
  • Large fish such as swordfish, shark and tuna may contain high levels of mercury and should be avoided. Pregnant women are encouraged to eat up to 2 portions of fish per week including fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as sardines, mackerel and herring. The upper threshold has been set because large fish may contain pollutants (toxins).
  • Unpasteurised milk and unpasteurised mould-ripened soft cheeses such as brie, camemberts and soft blue cheeses should be avoided to reduce the risk of listeriosis.

Other foods and drinks to avoid in pregnancy

  • Caffeine intake should be limited in pregnancy as high caffeine intake may increase the risk of pregnancy complications. Pregnant women are advised to have no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day from drinks and foods (e.g., coffee, tea, dark chocolate, soft drinks). As a general rule, women should opt for up to 2 cups of coffee or/and tea per day.
  • Alcohol should be completely avoided during pregnancy.
  • Foods and drinks high in fat and added sugars such as pastries, biscuits and sugary drinks should be reduced to prevent excess energy intake and keep blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels optimal during pregnancy.