8 Foods Pregnant Women Should Avoid

Pregnancy brings dramatic changes to your body, digestive system, and immune system. As a result, pregnant women need to pay special attention to what they eat to protect the health of both themselves and their unborn baby — which may mean forgoing some of your favorite foods.

Here are a few common items that may need to be on your dietary “no” list for the next nine months:

Food and Drink to Avoid While Pregnant

1. Alcohol

The consensus on alcohol is clear — it should not be consumed during pregnancy. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Drinking while pregnant poses a risk of fetal defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, and premature birth. Try trading your favorite mixed drinks for a virgin version instead

Make an appointment to speak with an expert at the Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC for more.

2. Raw batter or dough

Cookie dough and cake batter made with uncooked eggs can carry salmonella, and pre-made cookie dough has been linked to E. coli infections. It’s best to bake cookies and cake first to these desserts don’t put you at risk

3. Feta, brie, queso fresco, any soft cheese made from raw milk

Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk can harbor listeria or E.coli. Hard cheeses, like cheddar and mozzarella, are still safe for snacking.

4. High-mercury fish

Shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and others can contain high levels of mercury. This mercury can lead to a variety of birth defects in babies, including visual and hearing impairment and brain and spinal cord developmental issues.

Other seafood favorites, like salmon, tilapia, and shrimp can be a healthy part of your pregnancy.

5. Sushi and other undercooked fish and seafood

While we’re talking about seafood, undercooked fish may house bacteria that’s dangerous to you and your baby.

If you’re pregnant, always thoroughly cook fish before eating. Raw oysters and clams can house Vibrio bacteria and should be cooked to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. For more information, see this guide to eating seafood during pregnancy.

6. Unpasteurized milk and juices

Raw cider and milk may contain harmful bacteria — so pour a glass of the pasteurized variety instead.

Raw cider may hold E.coli. Unpasteurized milk can contain a host of bacteria, including salmonella, listeria, and campylobacter, in addition to E.coli.

Pasteurization, however, makes these beverages safe, so be sure to check labels before you buy.

7. Raw or undercooked vegetable sprouts

Raw sprouts seem like a healthy option. But sprouts that have been grown in the ground cannot be easily washed to remove or kill bacteria. Mung bean, radish, clover, and alfalfa sprouts should be thoroughly cooked before you munch on them.

8. Grocery store chicken salad and tuna salad

Make salads with mayonnaise-based dressings at home. Ham, chicken, and seafood salads made in grocery stores may not have been properly prepared — leading to risk of listeria exposure.

Make these salads at home to ensure each ingredient has been thoroughly cooked and safely refrigerated to prevent bacteria growth.