Foods to avoid during pregnancy

There are some foods you should avoid during pregnancy. Certain cheeses, meat and fish can contain listeria bacteria, the toxoplasmosis parasite or high concentrations of environmental toxins.

Avoid stomach infections by paying extra attention to hygiene when cooking and choosing appropriate ready-cooked foods. Limit your intake of coffee, sweets and sugary drinks.

When you are pregnant, eat extra healthy food that provides adequate nutrition for your and your baby. Read more about healthy eating during pregnancy. But there are also foods you should avoid or be careful about while pregnant.

Up to three small cups of coffee
Avoid drinking more than 300 grams of coffee a day since it can affect your baby. Limit yourself to three small (150 ml) cups of coffee or six mugs of black tea per day. Also be careful with cola and energy drinks, which contain caffeine.

Choose the right fish
Fish and shellfish are healthy to eat during pregnancy, while some freshwater and Baltic fish contain too many environmental toxins.
Read more about which fish to avoid and which you can eat a lot of.

No alcohol
The level of alcohol in your blood will be the same in the blood you transfer to your child via the placenta. Because the foetus is more sensitive to alcohol that you are and is constantly developing, you should avoid alcohol completely.
Read more about alcohol during pregnancy.

Limit the licorice
Do you love licorice? Go easy on it during pregnancy. The National Food Agency recommends eating no more than 50 grams of licorice per day during pregnancy.
Don't overdo the vitamin A
Vitamin A is essential to a healthy pregnancy and the development of your baby's vision. It is present in milk, cooking fat and offal such as liver. But too much vitamin A is harmful and is suspected to increase the risk of damage to the foetus in early pregnancy.

Vegetables and root vegetables such as carrots contain carotenoids, which the body can convert into vitamin A, and which you can't overdose on.
Read more about medicines and supplements during pregnancy.

Parasites and bacteria
The listeria bacteria and the toxoplasma parasite can both be present in ordinary foods. They can harm the development of your unborn child if you are infected. You should also take extra care over your food in general to avoid other stomach infections or food poisoning.

The listeria bacteria can develop at cold temperatures inside the refrigerator, and also survives in the freezer. On the other hand, it dies if cooked or heated to at least 70 degrees, which is the temperature at which bubbles form.

How to avoid listeria:
• Be careful with cold-smoked fish, cured fish and meat that is near its sell by date. Bacteria can multiply many times over inside a vacuum pack in a few weeks. Newly packed food is safe to eat. Sushi made of fresh produce is also safe.

• Avoid pâtés, salads and pressed meat products from delicatessen counters – you don't know how they've been prepared.

• Avoid all milk and cheese products made of unpasteurised milk. Read on the package whether the product is pasteurised. Thoroughly heated cheese is always safe to eat. Hard cheeses are also safe.

• Ready-prepared meals should be heated up thoroughly.

Toxoplasmosis is an illness caused by a parasite.
Unlike the listeria bacteria, the toxoplasma parasite dies if frozen (-18 degrees Celsius or colder) and when cooked (over 65 degrees Celsius).

How to avoid toxoplasmosis:
• Avoid all forms of raw meat. Cook all meat through and wash chopping boards and hands that have touched raw meat.

• Toxoplasma can also be present in cured, dried or cold-smoked meats, for instance Parma ham and salami. You can eat this sort of meat after freezing it for 72 hours. This will kill any toxoplasma parasites.

• Wash your hands carefully if you need to cook after touching soil.

Food poisoning
Be extra careful with food hygiene when you are pregnant. A stomach infection infects both you and the baby. Being infected with salmonella or campylobacter is always unpleasant, and is even more important to avoid during pregnancy.

How to avoid stomach infections:
• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap before and after handling food, before eating, after visiting the toilet, after changing nappies and after touching animals.

• Rinse fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.

• Check the sell-by date on packages.

• Serve hot food hot and cold food cold.

• Heat any leftovers thoroughly before eating them. Most bacteria die at around 100 degrees Celsius. Never reheat food more than once, and eat cooked food within two days.

• Cook all foods thoroughly, especially chicken.

• Put any leftovers into the fridge as soon as possible. Don't leave food and drink standing around at warm temperatures before eating them. This especially applies outdoors. Store food in covered containers to prevent contact with insects. Don't leave frozen foods and meats to thaw on the kitchen table. Let them thaw in the fridge or a microwave.

• Keep raw and cooked foods separate when cooking and storing them. Wash chopping boards and utensils before using them to prepare different foods.

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