Foods to avoid in pregnancy

What not to eat when pregnant

It’s never been more important to make sure that you’re eating healthily. Your baby is relying on you to provide a broad range of vitamins and minerals, whilst keeping them safe from foods that could cause them harm. Knowing which foods to avoid in pregnancy and which foods to fill up on will keep both of you healthy and give your baby the best start in life. Find out which foods you should steer clear of during pregnancy.

What not to eat when pregnant

Knowing which foods to avoid in pregnancy is as important as knowing which foods to eat plenty of. The majority of foods on the list below should be avoided because they increase your risk of food poisoning during pregnancy. Right now, food safety should be a priority which is why most mums avoid the following foods altogether, so as not to put themselves or their babies at risk:

  • Raw and undercooked eggs and foods likely to be made with them such as home-made mousses and ice cream. Cook eggs until they’re hard.
  • Very rare or undercooked meat and fish – ensure fish and meat is cooked through with no pink bits left.
  • Raw shellfish (such as oysters) and raw fish. Sushi is fine as long as it’s been frozen and is thawed before serving
  • Raw or cured meat such as steak tartare or parma ham
  • Unpasteurised milk, yogurt or cheese including soft cheeses like brie, camembert, or blue veined cheeses. Pasteurised cheeses such as Cheddar, Double Gloucester and cream or cottage cheese are fine but, to be on the safe side, always check the label to ensure they’re pasteurised
  • Swordfish, marlin and shark can contain potentially unsafe levels of mercury which can damage your baby’s developing nervous system. Tuna also contains mercury, so eat no more than four medium-size cans (140g drained weight, per can) or two fresh steaks (up to 170g raw weight, per steak) a week
  • Liver and products made from it, such as liver pâté, are also best avoided completely as they can have excessive amounts of vitamin A which may harm your baby


Peanuts have, in the past, been a source of debate but after a review of scientific evidence, government guidelines have changed. It is now considered safe to eat peanuts or foods containing peanuts during pregnancy or while breastfeeding even if you have a family history of allergies. This is because there is no clear evidence that eating or not eating peanuts during pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding influences the chances of a child developing a peanut allergy.

Food hygiene

Safe preparation of food is key. Wash your hands before and after preparing food, and clean vegetables thoroughly. Always check that any ready meals, reheated food or restaurant dishes are piping hot all the way through before you eat them – don’t be afraid to send dishes back if this isn’t the case.


Any alcohol you drink reaches your baby through the placenta. While it’s recognised that excessive alcohol intake during pregnancy can seriously affect your baby's development, there’s no evidence to suggest how much is safe. That’s why most midwives recommend avoiding it altogether during pregnancy.

If you’re in the habit of pouring a glass of wine to help you relax at the end of the day, there are plenty of healthier non-alcoholic alternatives. Running a hot bath, reading a book or taking some gentle exercise can help you to relax and are beneficial activities that can easily become part of your daily routine in place of alcohol.

Call on our expertise

If you’ve got a question about any aspect of your preganancy diet, our team of experienced mums and a midwife can help you find the answers. Call them on 0800 996 1000, or chat to them online through our one-to-one confidential instant messaging service, Live Chat, available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm.


jacquie middy said...

Can i eat seafoods?

16 July 2010 16:22
jacquie middy said...

Can i eat creme fraich?

16 July 2010 16:25
clairewilloughby said...

I've been told by a few people not to eat prawns.

27 July 2010 09:47
Rebecca_Baz said...

I think people say to avoid shellfish such as prawns but they are ok as long as they are cooked properly and have not been left standing around. I think the general rule if, if it look/feels dodgy, stay away from it.

7 September 2010 16:03
chantelle1975 said...

why cant i eat liver, my mum did with all four pregnancies

25 October 2010 20:15
m, tega said...

good informaion thanks

18 November 2010 17:39
angel indica said...

can i eat asda's coleslaw as it has pasturised egg in it?

27 November 2010 14:33
d j mck. said...

Never ate seafood with last two pregnancies but found oil you can if cooked properly love prawns

7 January 2011 11:02
Amychris said...

i love Yogurts but have been told not to eat them, is there any yogurts that are safe to eat during pregnancy as it seems all i want to eat is "YOGURTS"

12 January 2011 01:31
louisemartin said...

i love cheese xx all this food u cant eat when u are pregnant

29 January 2011 19:29
mandaxx25 said...

Why can't u eat yogurts? Its fine to eat yogurt, the bacteria is friendly

1 February 2011 13:24
Littlebabypip said...

It's fine to eat yogurt, it's unpasturised yogurt you have to avoid

3 February 2011 13:41
njra said...

Are Tuna and salmon safe fishes to eat during pregnancy?

9 February 2011 10:29
lizziecampbell said...

can u eat cheese an fried eggs obviously not together lol

11 February 2011 11:40
clairebear_x said...

is it ok to eat creme freche, salmon (well cooked), and salad/pasta pots from the supermarket while im pregnant?

15 February 2011 09:46
carla&bean2011 said...

i can't believe how much stuff u cant eat... im 9 weeks pregnant and been eatting eggs, yougurts, mayo, cheese... NOW IM WORRIED its harming my baby :(

12 March 2011 19:59
xxskyepr said...

i love cheeses and iwhat to eat kabab meat is it safe to ?

19 March 2011 15:25
smudgette22 said...

I had a rare steak last night and i'm 5 weeks in now i'm scared it will affected my baby :(

12 April 2011 13:16
sazascorpio said...

you can eat cooked seafood including prawns, cooked eggs, and shop bought mayonaise,

foods i found out i cant eat are cheesecake (soft cheese in it) , homemade peppermint creams! (raw egg in it)

28 May 2011 18:15
lauracraig17 said...

Can you eat Cheesecake?

13 October 2011 10:52
barnes456 said...

my god its hard enough not smoking not drinking and all these foods we cant eat too hard work but all worth it !!

3 December 2011 09:49
keileywest said...

yea cheesecake is fine x just always check labels to be safe :)

7 December 2011 19:49
jacquelinefois said...

I think the basic obvious things to not eat such as raw egg and raw fish and also undercooked steak/meat etc then there is no reason you shouldnt be able to eat anything else WITHIN MODERATION. Im not saying divulge into a baked camembert to yourself, thats a bit excessive, but a small bit of brie an crackers wouldnt hurt? Also, agreed with Rebecca_baz - if prawns are cooked properly then it should be ok. Your Dr/Midwife can advise, as every site i have looked on (i am 13 weeks Pregnant) says different. I have also been eating smoked salmon in moderation and am addicted to peanut butter - anything my mum ate with me... as long as its good for her, its good for me. Everyones different and you will find what works for one person wouldnt work with another - i.e i am avoiding mussles - funny as i am eating prawns, but its a 'thing' whereas my friend ate mussles. Its hard to judge for someone else unless its an obvious no-go

6 January 2012 13:37
tinkxoxo said...

soft cheeses are really dangerous cos of the bacteria they can cause. my aunty wasnt aware of this, and it made her extremely ill, and caused a lot of problems. best to avoid them altogether to be safe x

29 January 2012 17:49
fizzbambino said...

I love cheese and yogs you need to stay clear from soft cheeses apparently and too much of things i.e tuna, prawns.
Good luck to all expecting mammys :)

6 April 2012 16:56
princessfi26 said...

im really confused... why can't you eat yogurts in pregnancy/ iv gone right off tea so not having very much milk at all. so thought i was doing well by having yogurts for my calcium.../ xxx

7 May 2012 14:16
trix27 said...

it says you can now eat nuts. but im staying away from them still. anyone else doing the same ?

8 May 2012 18:11
subzy said...

i don't understand, why can't you eat smoke salmon? i'm really worried now because i ate some yestruday. I bought to packets. Now i'm worried about the baby now. Hoping that the baby is ok. Does that mean I have to avoid eating smoke salmon for the rest of the 7 months? i love smoke salmon. Please help someone! thank you.

10 May 2012 06:13
cat_tap said...

The reason you need to avoid smoked salmon or rare meat is because it *MAY* contain harmful bacteria. Not that all Smoked Salmon / rare meat is bad, just that no-one can tell. In a non-pregnant person, this bacteria could lead to food poisoning, which is not that harmful, but it *could* affect a baby in the womb (Note, not that it *will*, just that it *could)*.
Soft Cheese like Philadelphia spread cheese is fine, as are yoghurts available from supermarkets. Where cheese and yoghurts are labelled "unpasteurised", you should not eat them ( this includes soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert)

18 June 2012 20:57
Natashalicious3 said...


26 June 2012 09:34
CathE said...

The best guidelines are by the NHS If they dont say to avoid it then its fine to eat!

20 October 2012 12:00
HazelK said...

I only recently found out that i was five weeks pregnant with my first baby (extremely scared) and the non smoking and alcohol i am having absolutely no problems with as i do not smoke anyway and rarely drink that much, however not being able to eat all of the foods i love will be very hard, like brie and soft cheeses, smoked salmon, will all be worth it in the end though.

27 October 2012 22:47
newmum2013 said...

I am probably worrying about nothing but this is my 1st pregnancy and im unsure of what to expect. I know that i am going to have stomach pains as my body adjusts and baby grows but some of the pains i have been having are very similar to period pains...Is this normal? Anyone else experiencing something similar? Any advice be greatly appreciated.

27 February 2013 04:21
samtylersmum said...

i have a boy who is three and i am now 5weeks pregnant again. i am suffering with pains and very sore boobs, i also go to the gym 3times a week do you think that may be a bit much. other than that i feel fine xxx

9 March 2013 21:14
2ndtimeroundyay! said...

I'm also 5 weeks pregnant, with my second. It's natural to have period like pains. Its normally when your period would have been due and your body adapting. You can also get light spotting aswell. All natural. xx

12 April 2013 14:14
Jah3 said...

I'm 6weeks pregnant and getting green gooey discharge is that normal?

16 April 2013 15:10
danip3 said...

i am 5 weeks pregnant and i have period like pains not as bad but little cramp. i did have a very sore back and i now have diarrhea on of for past couple of days. is this normal?

17 July 2013 16:10
tiffanymonks said...

can I eat yogurt or not ??

30 July 2013 11:06

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