Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy


Virginia Beach

3720 Holland Road, Suite #101
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
Get directions

Contact Us

    In Office Procedures:

    Same-Day Outpatient Surgeries:

    Inpatient Surgeries:

    Back to Prenatal Education

    Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy


    Can I have fish? The answer is yes! We only need to monitor how much and what kind of fish we can eat when pregnant or nursing. All fish contain some levels of methylmercury. However, the larger fish that have lived longer have the highest amounts of methylmercury because they have had a longer time to accumulate it. These fish are:

    • Shark

    • Tilefish

    • King Mackerel

    • Swordfish

    You should not have any of these fish during pregnancy and nursing. Methylmercury affects the way an unborn baby and young child’s nervous system develops.

    Fish that you may eat are as follows:

    Bass, striped Bass/Rockfish, Cod, Catfish, Flounder, Sole, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, Atlantic Mackerel, Pacific Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel (South Atlantic), Monkfish, Perch, Pollock, Salmon, Sardines, Shad, Skate, Snapper, Tilapia, Trout, Tuna (canned chunk light), and Weakfish.

    You may only have 6 to 12 oz weekly, which is 1-2 servings/week.

    Medium size fish have moderate levels of methylmercury in them and you may only have 1-2 servings/month. If you choose to eat one of these fish, you can not have any other fish that month. They are:

    Bluefish, Grouper, Spanish Mackerel (Gulf of Mexico), Marlin, Orange Roughy, Tuna (canned white albacore) and Tuna (fresh or frozen steaks)

    Lunchmeat and Processed Meats

    Listeria is a bacterium that can be found on refrigerated foods, ready to eat foods, unpasteurized milk, and soil. Animals can carry this bacterium without getting sick, so it is found in a lot of foods that are made from animals. It can grow on foods while they are being refrigerated. Symptoms can take a few days or even weeks to appear. They include: fever, chills, diarrhea, headache, stiff neck, muscle aches, confusion, and loss of balance. In the first trimester, the infection can cause a miscarriage. In the third trimester, the infection can cause preterm labor, low birth-weight baby, mental retardation, paralysis in the baby, seizures, blindness, impairments of the heart, kidneys, or brain and infant death.

    Foods to be cautious around are:

    • Lunchmeat and hotdogs: Eat only if they are steaming hot!

    • Soft cheeses such as Feta, Brie, Camembert, blue veined cheeses, queso blanco, queso fresco, Panela: Unless they are made with pasteurized milk. This will be stated on the label.

    • Refrigerated Pates or meat spreads

    • Refrigerated smoked seafood: unless it is in a casserole.

    • Foods that contain unpasteurized milk.

    Raw Vegetables and Fruits

    Harmful bacteria that are located on the outside of fruits and vegetables can get on the inside of them when you peel, chop, or squeeze them. In order to prevent this, you should do the following:

    • Rinse thoroughly all fruits and vegetables under running water before peeling or eating them.

    • Use a small produce brush to remove surface dirt.

    • Cut away damaged or bruised areas.

    • Avoid eating any raw sprouts such as Alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean. The bacteria can get into the sprouts’ seed before it even grows and then is too difficult to remove.

    • Cook sprouts thoroughly.

    • When eating out, check sandwiches and salads for raw sprouts and remove them.

    • Only drink juices that have been pasteurized.

    Mayonnaise and Raw Eggs

    Some eggs can be contaminated with a bacterium called Salmonella. To avoid this, follow these tips:

    • Cook eggs thoroughly until the yolk and whites are firm.

    • Cook fried eggs for 2-3 minutes on each side or 4 minutes in a covered pan.

    • Cook scrambled eggs thoroughly until they are firm throughout.

    • Hard boil eggs for 7 minutes.

    Avoid tasting foods that have raw eggs in them. Examples of these foods are:

    • Batter, filling, or raw cookie dough

    • Eggnog

    • Dressings and sauces made with raw egg such as Caesar, Mayonnaise, Hollandaise, or Béarnaise.

    • Ice Cream

    • Mousse

    • Meringue

    You can eat these products if they are store bought forms. Stay away from the homemade versions of these foods.

    Raw or Undercooked Meats

    Raw or undercooked meat is not recommended for pregnant women due to the risk of contracting Toxoplasmosis. This is a parasite that can cause pregnant women to have swollen glands, fever, headache, muscle pain or stiff neck or no symptoms at all. In unborn babies, the infection can cause blindness, hearing loss, mental retardation, or death.

    In order to prevent this infection during pregnancy, you should follow these tips:

    • Avoid raw or undercooked meat such as pork and lamb or by touching your mouth after handling raw meats.

    • Do not reuse contaminated knives, cutting boards, utensils that the raw meats have touched until they have been thoroughly cleaned.

    • Do not change the cat’s litter box because you could accidentally ingest particles of feces that are infected with Toxoplasmosis.

    • Avoid touching your mouth after gardening.

    • Avoid all raw fish which includes sushi.


    No amount of alcohol is recommended during anytime during the pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can be prevented by not drinking any alcohol.


    Avoid all tobacco products during pregnancy. These can cause small birth-weight, allergies and asthma. If you are currently a smoker, you should try to start cutting back slowly. Do not use any Anti-Smoking Aids during pregnancy.

    Call Us Today

    Atlantic Gynecology offers online appointment scheduling so you can book your appointment at your convenience. You can also call the office to schedule.

    (757) 463-1234
    Book An Appointment