What Foods Should Be Avoided During the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

Reviewed on 9/3/2021

The first trimester

The first trimester is the first 3 months of your pregnancy. Foods to avoid during the third trimester of pregnancy include raw or undercooked seafood; seafood containing mercury; raw or undercooked eggs; unpasteurized milk or other dairy products; raw sprouts and unwashed vegetables and fruits.
The first trimester is the first 3 months of your pregnancy. Foods to avoid during the third trimester of pregnancy include raw or undercooked seafood; seafood containing mercury; raw or undercooked eggs; unpasteurized milk or other dairy products; raw sprouts and unwashed vegetables and fruits.

‌The first trimester is the first 3 months of your pregnancy. Your body will undergo a lot of changes as your baby is slowly starting to grow in your womb. This time of the pregnancy can be hard for moms-to-be. 

In between the food cravings and morning sickness, you need to keep eating a healthy diet. There are also some foods to avoid in the first trimester of your pregnancy. This is important for you and your baby’s health.

Foods to avoid in the first trimester of pregnancy

The first trimester is a crucial time for your baby’s growth. Some types of food can be harmful to you and can affect your baby’s health and development. 

You should avoid the following foods in your first trimester:

Seafood Containing Mercury

‌Eating fish with high levels of mercury can cause mercury poisoning. If you eat fish that contain mercury during pregnancy, it can pass on to your baby. Mercury is a metal that can delay your baby’s development, cause brain damage, and affect their hearing and sight.  

Avoid eating fish like: 

  • Swordfish
  • ‌Tilefish 
  • ‌King mackerel
  • ‌Shark 
  • Marlin
  • Ahi and bigeye tuna
  • Orange roughy‌

Raw or Undercooked Seafood and Meat

‌Raw foods can contain harmful bacteria that can cause infection and food poisoning. This infection can pass on to your baby during pregnancy. Eating undercooked seafood and meat can increase your risk of toxoplasmosis, salmonella, or listeria infection. 

Make sure you cook these foods properly. Heat seafood and meat to over 145 Fahrenheit, and cook poultry to over 160 Fahrenheit. This will help kill the bacteria and prevent you and your baby from getting infected.

Avoid eating these foods:‌

  • Smoked seafood
  • Refrigerated seafood
  • Raw deli meats
  • Undercooked shellfish
  • Sushi
  • Pâté

Raw or Undercooked Eggs

‌Raw or lightly cooked eggs may contain salmonella. Try and avoid eating foods containing raw or undercooked eggs. 

Avoid eating these foods:‌

  • Raw cake batter 
  • Raw cookie dough
  • Soft scrambled eggs
  • Lightly cooked omelets
  • Salad dressings or mayonnaise with egg
  • Eggnog 

Unpasteurized Milk and Other Dairy Products

‌Before use, milk is often pasteurized or heated to kill germs and improve its shelf life. Unpasteurized milk and dairy products like cheese may contain bacteria such as listeria. Consuming unpasteurized milk can cause food poisoning like listeriosis. This can affect you and your baby and can even lead to a miscarriage or stillbirth

Check the label to ensure that the product you’re buying is pasteurized. You should avoid having unpasteurized soft cheeses like:‌

  • Moldy blue cheese like Danish blue or gorgonzola
  • Brie
  • Feta
  • Camembert 
  • Chevre‌

Raw Sprouts

‌Raw sprouts may contain bacteria inside, which can be difficult to wash away. Avoid having raw sprouts to prevent any infection. Before you eat deli sandwiches or other prepared foods, check to see whether they contain raw sprouts. Make sure you thoroughly wash and cook the sprouts to destroy any infection-causing germs.

Avoid these raw sprouts:‌

Unwashed Vegetables or Fruits

‌Vegetables and fruits are an essential part of your diet. Before you eat them, make sure that they are properly washed. Unwashed vegetables and fruits may contain dirt and germs such as toxoplasmosis, which can harm you and your baby.  

Also, avoid having pre-packaged salads, buffet salads, or those at open salad bars, as they can be contaminated with listeria.

Excess Caffeine

‌Although a moderate intake of caffeine is allowed during pregnancy, high caffeine intake can affect your baby’s development. Research has shown that excess caffeine can increase the risk of a miscarriage during the first trimester.

Your daily caffeine intake should be less than 200 milligrams, which is equal to a 12-ounce cup of coffee. Check the labels of sodas, energy drinks, teas, or chocolate, as they may contain caffeine. 

Alcohol

‌No amount of alcohol is safe for consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Completely avoid alcohol throughout your pregnancy. Exposure to alcohol can affect your baby’s development and result in fetal alcohol syndrome.

Excess Vitamin A

‌In your first trimester, avoid having vitamin A supplements and liver products like pâté as they may contain high vitamin A levels. A high dose of vitamin A can be toxic for your baby and cause birth defects. This is because your baby’s liver has still not developed and can’t process a lot of vitamin A. 

Other Foods 

‌Avoid having nuts if you are allergic to them. Limit your intake of herbal teas and licorice. And drink only pasteurized fruit juices.

Foods to eat in the first trimester of pregnancy

‌‌During pregnancy, you should eat well-balanced, healthy meals that are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fluids, and fiber. Add the following to your diet to ensure that you and your baby remain healthy:

  • Vegetables like spinach and broccoli that are rich in folic acid and iron
  • ‌Colorful fruits like avocados, bananas, apples, pears, cherries, grapes, and watermelons, and vegetables like peas, tomatoes, bell peppers, asparagus, and sweet potatoes
  • ‌Citrus fruits like grapefruits, oranges, and sweet limes, which are rich in folic acid
  • Well-cooked lean meat and eggs 
  • ‌Seafood with low levels of mercury like shrimp, lobster, salmon, catfish, and canned light tuna  
  • ‌Pasteurized dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and low-fat milk
  • ‌Whole grains like wheat, oats, barley, corn, millet, and rice 
  • ‌Lentils and nuts, provided you are not allergic to them
  • ‌Lots of water and other fluids for hydration
  • Prenatal vitamins and supplements

In summary

‌If you are in the first trimester of pregnancy, take good care of yourself, eat healthy food, drink lots of water, and get plenty of rest. Talk with your doctor to know more about the foods you should avoid or include in your diet while you are pregnant

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References
Sources:

pregnancybaby&birth: "First Trimester."

American Pregnancy Association: "Foods to Avoid When Pregnant."

NRDC: "Mercury Guide."

MARCH OF DIMES: "FOODS TO AVOID OR LIMIT DURING PREGNANCY."

NHS: "Foods to avoid in pregnancy."

pregnancybirth&baby: "Foods to avoid when pregnant."

SANFORD HEALTH: "Do's and don'ts during the first trimester of pregnancy."

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