Things to Avoid During Pregnancy

When you first find out you’re pregnant, your first thought may be to contact your health care provider, midwife or doctor.

An equally important first step is to avoid certain FOOD, CHEMICALS and ACTIVITIES.


Eating a variety of healthy foods is generally good for you and your unborn baby, but there are some foods which could potentially lead to sickness or cause harm to your baby, including some foods that would normally be fine (when not pregnant).

The Main Foods to Avoid:

  • Soft cheeses
  • Undercooked or raw meat
  • Uncooked seafood or fish
  • Prepared vegetables, including salad
  • Unwashed vegetables, including salad
  • Prepared fruits
  • Unwashed fruits
  • Undercooked or raw eggs
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Processed or deli meat
  • Organ meat
  • Raw sprouts
  • Green potatoes

Foods to Limit:

  • Caffeine: Contradicting studies have shown caffeine to be both safe in limited quantities and unsafe during pregnancy. Your doctor may tell you to limit your caffeine across all products including food and drink to less than 200 milligrams (mg) a day. Or you may be advised, or choose, to completely abstain from consuming caffeine products during pregnancy.
  • Fish
  • Liver
  • Licorice
  • Fish (PCB): Fish such as farmed salmon can potentially contain high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which can impair or affect brain development.

Do Not Consume:

Alcohol: No amount of alcohol has been proven to be safe during pregnancy. To be safe, do not drink any alcohol.

Herbal Tea: The effects of herbal tea on mother and baby have not been fully researched. Get the approval of your doctor before deciding to drink herbal teas during pregnancy.

Energy Drinks: In particular beware of caffeine containing energy drinks.

Check Foods that Contain:

Fruit Juice: Make sure the fruit juice or smoothie you are consuming does not contain unpasteurized products. Juices from concentrate could be a better option as raw fruit juice can contain harmful bacteria.

Fast Food Burgers: Can contain prepared salads, which should be avoided. May also contain unpasteurized sauces or sauces that contain raw ingredients.

Fast Food Salads: Can contain the bacteria listeria. Also check to make sure that sauces contain no raw or unpasteurized ingredients.

Cooked in an Unsanitary Environment: Food preparation can introduce harmful bacteria into the food itself. If in doubt, discard your food.

Processed Foods: Processed foods can contain high levels of sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats.

Also Consider Limiting:

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Preservatives


Talk to your doctor about the use of supplements, as consuming too much of certain supplements can lead to congenital malformations and pregnancy loss.

Vitamins and supplements that should be limited or considered unsafe during pregnancy:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Black cohosh
  • Goldenseal
  • Dong quai
  • Yohimbe
  • Saw palmetto
  • Tansy
  • Red clover
  • Angelica
  • Yarrow
  • Wormwood
  • Blue cohosh
  • Pennyroyal
  • Ephedra
  • Mugwort


Using chemicals during pregnancy can be unsafe and cause harm to your baby.

Reduce your exposure to, or handling of, chemicals during pregnancy.

  • Cleaning products
  • Fumigation chemicals
  • Scented products
  • Art materials
  • Vaping products
  • Lead-based paint
  • Aromatherapy oils
  • Animal-borne diseases
  • Electronic devices
  • Herbal remedies
  • Dry cleaning chemicals
  • Medication with caffeine
  • Acne treatments

Animals – Avoid

  • Reptile handling
  • Sheep contact
  • Rodent feces
  • Household pests
  • Kitty litter
  • Feces

Activities to Avoid

  • Standing for long periods
  • Sitting for long periods
  • Long car or plane rides
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Tanning beds
  • High heels
  • Certain yoga or Pilates positions
  • Skin treatments
  • Fungal or mold exposure
  • Sleeping on your back in late pregnancy
  • Heavy lifting
  • Temperature changes
  • Extreme sports
  • Bumpy roads
  • Tight clothing

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