Here is a quick list of foods not to eat during pregnancy:
- Certain types of cheese – avoid soft pasteurised cheeses e.g. brie, camembert, blue, ricotta, mozzarella because these can contain listeria, a bacteria which can harm your unborn baby. Stick to eating the harder yellow varieties like Edam or Tasty for now.
- Cream and custard – avoid pre-prepared foods e.g. bakery items with custard or cream used as an ingredient, and avoid ready-made chilled custard as well.
- Hummus – avoid store bought or homemade hummus - this includes tahini and pre-packaged chilled dips. It’s best to avoid these altogether during pregnancy as these can contain bacteria.
- Paté - avoid as this can contain listeria too - even vegetable paté isn't safe.
- Raw or partially cooked eggs – eggs can contain salmonella, which is a major cause of food poisoning. When you're pregnant, you should avoid any food that contains uncooked egg, like homemade mayonnaise. That doesn’t mean you should avoid eggs altogether, as they’re great source of protein. Just make sure the egg yolk and white are both well cooked before you eat them.
- Raw, cured and undercooked meat – switch that extra rare steak for something less pink. Raw, undercooked, or cured meats like ham and salami, or other deli meats, increase the risk of food poisoning and parasitic infections. These can affect your baby's development. Be extra careful of chicken as it can contain salmonella and other bacteria. It should be well cooked, right the way through. You should also watch out for smoked salmon, as this hasn’t been through a traditional cooking process and can still carry bacteria. It’s a good idea to avoid this during pregnancy.
- Liver - liver contains large amounts of Vitamin A, and too much of this vitamin can harm your baby. Be selective with vitamin or mineral supplements when pregnany too, if you think you need one, always check in with your GP or lead maternity carer for advice.
- Some types of fish – fish are an amazing source of vitamins, minerals and protein. Fish is also high in omega 3 fatty acids, which help your baby's nervous system develop. Most common fish varieties are safe, but some may contain higher levels of Mercury. Check out the Ministry of Primary Industries (NZ) website for more information on mercury and fish species and serving restrictions.
- Raw shellfish – avoid eating all raw shellfish while pregnant as these can contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
- Pre-prepared chilled meals and leftovers - make sure you keep all cooked foods in the fridge and then cook them at high temperatures to kill off any bacteria. The whole dish should be piping hot.
- Alcohol - safe limits are unknown, so many health professionals say it’s best to avoid alcohol completely when pregnant.
- Caffeine - too much caffeine can lead to low birth weight, and it’s also been linked with miscarriage. Limit your intake for now or choose decaffeinated versions of your favourite hot drinks. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should limit their caffeine intake to a maximum of 300mg per day. This is roughly equivalent to one large long black, or 3 cappuccinos, or 4 cups of plunger coffee, or 6 cups of instant coffee, or 6 cups of tea, or 400g plain chocolate.
- Sushi – it’s best to avoid sushi altogether for now.
For more information the Ministry of Primary Industries (NZ) website has detailed information about safe eating, including which foods to avoid during pregnancy.