Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Having a healthy baby is an expectant mother’s primary goal during pregnancy. Moms-to-be often take vitamins, make sure to drink plenty of water, and steer clear of cigarettes and alcohol. But there are other foods that babies need us to avoid as well.

Many of these are items that, while not pregnant, wouldn’t be an issue for us to eat but can be detrimental to our unborn babies if consumed before birth.

Raw Fruits and Veggies Grown with Pesticides

Anything that is raw, whether it’s meats or fruits and vegetables needs to have a second thought before being consumed by a pregnant woman. Fruits and veggies are some of the best items for women to eat while their pregnant, however while expecting there are some precautions that should be taken.

When possible, buy organic or locally grown fresh foods. Much of the non-organic food we buy was grown using pesticides. These chemicals can affect a baby by hindering nutrients from entering their system and slowing growth and development.

According to the Environmental Working Group the 12 most polluted fruits and veggies—also known as the “Dirty Dozen”—are: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, pears, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes.

On top of buying organic or pesticide-free, it’s important that expectant moms wash all their fruits and veggies well before eating them. This also goes for salad greens that say pre-washed.

Raw Eggs

For the same reason we’re told not to eat raw cookie dough—because it contains raw eggs that could lead to an increased risk of salmonella poisoning. It’s even more important that moms-to-be, avoid contamination by raw eggs while pregnant. This will help them avoid food poisoning, diarrhea, dehydration, and other symptoms that, at their worst, could cause a miscarriage.

If you do choose to eat eggs while pregnant, make sure not to eat any with broken or damaged shells, as they may contain additional bacteria. Prepare eggs separately from other food to avoid cross contamination and clean all surfaces and utensils thoroughly with hot, soapy water.

Raw Sprouts

Similar to eggs, eating raw spouts is a risk because they can be a source of salmonella. For sprouts to grow they require continually damp conditions that are a breeding haven for harmful bacteria and germs. If you still want to eat sprouts while pregnant, the best way is to cook them first.

Raw or Undercooked Meat

Like the other raw foods that we’ve discussed so far, raw meat should be handled and consumed with caution. Raw and undercooked meats can house a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii that causes Toxoplasmosis. It can also be found on unwashed fruits and vegetables.

Toxoplasmosis can be spread simply by touching your face after handling uncooked meats. What’s worse, is that a mother may contract Toxoplasmosis yet not show any symptoms and expose the baby unknowingly.

According to the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, as many as 80 percent of children born with untreated toxoplasmosis will experience handicaps such as mental retardation, blindness, or other complications by the age of 20.

Raw Seafood

If you find yourself developing a pregnancy craving for shellfish or oysters, you’ll want to think about finding an alternative quickly. Raw seafood is some of the most harmful of the raw foods we’ve discussed.

One of the biggest concerns about fish, is the high levels of mercury found in them. Mercury poisoning can lead to defects and brain damage in unborn babies. Raw fish in meals like sushi can also contain harmful bacteria and parasites that pregnant women and their partners should do their best to avoid.

Unpasteurized Dairy and Juice Products

Unpasteurized dairy and juices are often a source of listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis. While listeriosis is not a common illness, pregnant women are more likely to pick it up from contaminated foods and drinks. Pasteurization kills the bacteria altogether and makes foods safer for the moms-to-be.

You’ll want to also avoid soft cheeses that are made from unpasteurized milk. These can carry the bacteria straight into your home. In extreme cases, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, infection in the newborn, premature delivery, and stillbirths.


If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of doctors. It’s always a good idea to be on the cautious side while deciding on what foods to eat while pregnant. You can reach us at, 423-339-1400. We have two convenient locations in both Cleveland and Ooltewah to meet your needs.