Pregnancy guide > You > Mums to be > Eating for pregnancy > Foods to avoid during pregnancy

Foods to avoid during pregnancy

Advice on the foods you should try to avoid during pregnancy and when breastfeeding to help protect your baby's health.
When you are pregnant, you will come across a lot of advice about what you should or shouldn't eat. Although this advice is usually research based, you may not be able to follow it either because of your personal tastes and preferences, or perhaps because of the cost. Other information about diet may catch the attention of the media although the evidence to support this may not always be authoritative.

Women frequently have to decide which advice they can follow and it may be that their personal circumstances will impact on these decisions. For example, a woman who eats a vegetarian diet will have to find alternative sources of iron, as she cannot obtain this from eating red meat. Where this is the case, a woman can be left feeling guilty and anxious that she has not done the best for her baby.

There is now reliable information about foods to avoid when you are pregnant and breastfeeding.

Liver and vitamin A supplements. Very high intakes of one form of vitamin A (retinol, found in liver, liver pate and sausage, fish liver oils and some supplements) have been linked with the baby being born with birth defects. The other form of vitamin A is called 'beta carotene' and this is safe to take in pregnancy, but always check with your doctor or midwife before taking any vitamin A supplements.

The Department of Health suggests that you may choose not to eat peanuts or peanut products while you are pregnant, especially if you or your baby's father or any brothers or sisters have a history of allergies. Studies suggest that a baby can develop peanut allergy before birth or while breastfeeding, but the evidence is uncertain.

A survey by the Food Standards Agency has found high levels of mercury in some fish. As mercury can affect the developing nervous system of the unborn baby, it is advised to limit the amount of tuna you eat to two medium cans or a single fresh steak a week and to completely avoid swordfish, marl in and shark This applies when you are planning a pregnancy, actually pregnant or breastfeeding.

Listeria is a bacteria that grows in some specific foods and can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or serious illness in the newborn baby. Other bacteria such as salmonella can also cause serious illness to you and your baby. While hard cheeses are mostly safe to eat in pregnancy, it is advised to avoid soft mould-ripened cheeses like Camembert, Brie and all blue-veined cheeses. You should also avoid eating all types of pate and oven-ready meals that are uncooked or undercooked as well as raw or part-cooked eggs.

Studies show that high levels of caffeine are linked with miscarriage and stillbirth. It is better to choose decaffeinated drinks or keep to no more three cups of brewed coffee or four cups/three mugs of instant coffee.

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I am 8 weeks pregnant and have been craving feta cheese. This may be due to the fact that I've been told that I shouldn't eat it, which makes me want it even more! Do I really need to aviod this? and can this cause harm to the baby if I eat it? thanks, Rose
by RosyPosy 8th May 2009, 9:54am
I ate a spagetti carbonara which is made with raw eggs altogh i di d not know it at the time i have been going mad with worry altougth i appear fine and it has bee over 24 hours and i feel the baby move iaround all morning however i think that from now on when i go out to a restaurant i will have to check first what my food is made of!!!!1
by xxxkellyxxx 1st Apr 2009, 9:42am
i am not yet pregnant but wish to have! ilost my pregnat at 7 months last novermber id there any special food or drug that is recomanded for me? your answers will be highly appriciated.
thanks please write me on my email add.
by ama 19th Feb 2009, 10:16am
I did not know I was pregnant and I took Panado and headache powder for headache. is my unborn baby still safe?
by 3031 12th Dec 2008, 9:45am
I did not know I was pregnant yet, and I ate rabbit liver!! Will it harm my baby?
by melissagatt 1st Dec 2008, 9:27am

Is it okay to eat Cured Ham whilst pregnant?
Also I have been drinking alot of orange juice, is this okay?
I am only 5 weeks gone!

Thank you :0)
by Mum2beJemski 18th Nov 2008, 8:39am
I accidently ate a swordfish fish cake at the weekend. I know your not supposed to because of high mecury levels. Will this do any permanent damage? Im so worried!!
by KatDay 28th Oct 2008, 9:22am
is it healthy to drink freshly pressed juice, such as apple-carrot, tomato-carrot etc.
by Elya 5th Aug 2008, 9:26am
I'm pretty sure the cheese spreads you mentioned are all made with processed milk, in which case they are safe to eat. Its the processing that makes them safe, so if you check on the labels itll tell you if its made with processed or un-processed milk. As for mozzerella, my Italian step-mother-in-law insists that it is also safe!

I did hear that cured meat can contain that listeria bacteria, so im afraid im avoiding it. (Much to the step-mother-in-law's displeasure!)
by Gemeny 11th Jul 2008, 9:02am
I'd like to ask tha same question as martinamum.
Is it ok to eat Philadelphia cheese during pregnancy? it's my favourite!
by Andrea78 5th Jun 2008, 8:50am
i've heard that eating cured meats like salami aren't good for the baby is this true and also is mozzarella cheese safe to eat?
by Snatz 2nd Jun 2008, 8:44am
can you eat honey
by british 3rd Apr 2008, 8:28am
is it okay to eat soft cheese like lowlow or philadelphia or dairylea?
by martinamum 10th Mar 2008, 9:02am
is it safe to eat probitic foods during pregancy?
by DONNA31 11th Feb 2008, 9:25am