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Foods to Avoid When Pregnant - 6 Foods to Avoid in the First Trimester

Foods to avoid during early pregnancy first trimester pregnancy scan advised by pregnancy nutritionist


Rather than thinking about the foods to avoid when pregnant, I much prefer to help women focus on what they CAN include for a healthy pregnancy. This is especially true during the first trimester when your body might be self-limiting the foods you have through nausea and food aversions.

But there are a few foods that you need to avoid in the first trimester in particular, as your unborn baby is growing. Keep these 6 foods to avoid when pregnant in mind when doing your weekly shop or choosing foods to order online.

Pregnant women with coffee foods to avoid when pregnant

Caffeine Containing Foods & Drinks

These might not be foods to avoid when pregnant, but caffeine is something to be aware of. You don’t need to avoid caffeine completely during pregnancy but try to limit it to 200mg a day.

Not sure what that looks like? It's the equivalent of 2 mugs of instant coffee.

Make sure to check the amount of coffee shots in your takeaway drink as some places will use 2-4 shots which might take you over the limit.

Caffeine isn't limited to tea or coffee - it can also be found in chocolate, energy drinks, medicines and some herbal teas. Be sure to read the labels, and if in doubt, avoid it for now.

Caffeine is something to consider if you plan on breastfeeding too.

Have a read of my blog post on what to do if you're a coffee-lover but want to breastfeed.

Consuming Alcohol

It is advised to limit, if not avoid completely, drinking alcohol whilst pregnant, and this is especially true in the first trimester. Alcohol is known to cross the placenta to the baby, whose liver is too immature to process it in the same way that an adult can.

NHS advice on alcohol in pregnancy is that it is safest to avoid it completely, as the studies are too varied to give a definite answer of the exact amount and frequency that it is safe to drink.

Of course, you don’t always know that you are pregnant and may have drunk some alcohol before finding out - try not to worry, as it is very unlikely that your baby has been affected, but do speak to your GP if you are concerned.

cheese board with brie, stilton, soft cheese, mould-ripened cheese, foods to avoid when pregnant

Cheese & Unpasteurised Dairy

No, you don't need to avoid all cheese thank goodness (can you imagine life without cheese??) but there are some cheeses that are best to avoid during pregnancy.

Currently, the NHS recommends that pregnant women avoid soft, mould-ripened unpasteurised cheeses, like brie, camembert, roquefort, and gorgonzola. These cheeses, like all unpasteurised dairy, can contain a type of bacteria called listeria, which can cause listeriosis, a rare but serious illness for your baby.

If you're a cheese-lover, then you'll love this post about exactly what cheeses you can have during pregnancy.

Fish & shellfish during pregnancy

Although we want to eat oily fish for the rich source of omega 3s, some fish contain high levels of mercury, which can be damaging to your growing baby.

Perhaps some of the more unusual foods to avoid when pregnant, shark, swordfish and marlin are the 3 main ones to avoid completely, and tuna should be limited to 2 fresh steaks or 4 cans a week.

NHS suggest having no more than 2 portions of oily fish a week, as they can contain pollutants such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls. Too much of these over time can cause damage to your baby.

Raw shellfish should be avoided, to reduce the likelihood of getting food poisoning, which can be much worse during early pregnancy.

Meat and Meat-products

Raw or undercooked meats, including cured meats, should also be avoided because they carry a risk of toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a kind of infection, which if caught during pregnancy, can cause harm to your unborn baby, resulting in miscarriage.

Cooking cured meats until piping hot is a way to make them safe to eat.

The NHS also recommend avoiding liver and liver products due to levels of vitamin A, which is thought to be harmful to babies in high doses. This advice is different in other countries, so do your research carefully when choosing what foods to avoid when pregnant.

Eggs or Foods Made from Eggs

Most eggs sold in the UK have the British Lion stamp on them - and these eggs are perfectly good to eat cooked, partially cooked or raw when you are pregnant.

Any eggs that don't have the lion stamp, should only be eaten if they have been thoroughly cooked. This is to avoid salmonella which can cause food poisoning.

The British Lion stamp only applies to hens eggs - so if you have duck, goose, or quails eggs, you will need to cook them through before eating.


It can be really tricky to know which foods to avoid when pregnant. Even more so if you are eating out or choosing foods online. Always ask the chef or restaurant for more information about how the food is cooked if you aren't sure. And if there's any doubt, best to avoid it completely, especially during the first trimester.

One of my clients had severe food poisoning in a previous pregnancy. She was particularly nervous about eating out during her first trimester. With my support, she gained the confidence to find foods and restaurants that were safe. She became an expert at navigating menus and asking the chefs for what she wanted. She even gained a newfound love of cooking at home, eating all the foods she loved without any of the worries.

Does that sound familiar?

Lots of women need a bit of extra support navigating those early days of pregnancy.

I can help you to put a plan in place to enjoy food again, through my pregnancy coaching support.

You can book in for a free discovery call to get started with taking back control over the food you love today.

Foods to avoid in pregnancy and the first trimester from a pregnancy nutritionist


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