Safety Considerations and Contraindications

  • Caloric intake does not change during the first trimester, but should increase by 340-452 during second and third trimester for healthy fetal development and pregnancy (if of normal weight before pregnancy).
  • Consume 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week from a variety of sources. Supplementing with fish oil or algae-based docosahexaenoic acid can aid in providing Omega-3 fatty acids (Greenberg, 2008). Fish with high methyl mercury content should be avoided such as tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. Limit lower mercury-containing fish such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish to no more than 12 ounces or less per week. Limit albacore ("white") tuna to 6 ounces or less per week.
  • Eat healthy snacks and small meals throughout the day rather than three big meals a day in order to get the proper amount of calories and nutrients, easily.
  • Limit caffeine to 200 mg per day or one 12 oz coffee to prevent nausea, light-headedness, excess urination and dehydration, and interference with sleep.
  • Cease consumption of alcohol.
  • Avoid "empty calories" from added sugars and solid fats in foods by opting for choices that are "low-fat," "fat-free," "unsweetened," or "with no added sugar." Examples of high sugar and fat foods include soft drinks, desserts, fried foods, cheese, whole milk, and fatty meats.
  • Sweeteners that are Generally Recognized as Safe by the FDA can be consumed in moderation according to daily intakes and includes acesulfame potassium, aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and neotame. More information on Generally Recognized as Safe foods is available click here.
  • Drink 8 to 10 cups of fluids per day to maintain hydration and consume plenty of water during physical activity.

Foods To Avoid

Pregnant patients are particularly at risk for foodborne illnesses, especially caused by Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella species, and Toxoplasma gondii.

Patients should be advised to avoid:

  • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and fish. Please see USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Cooking Temperatures in Appendix.
  • Prepared meats such as deli meats and hot dogs, unless heated until steaming hot.
  • Soft-scrambled eggs and foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs.
  • Unpasterurized juices, milk, and soft cheeses (brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco, and panela).
  • Refrigerated pates, meat spreads, or smoked seafood (does not include canned and shelf-stable versions).
  • Herbal supplements and teas.
  • Fish high in mercury (albacore tuna, shark, swordfish, kind mackerel, tilefish).
  • Alcohol (and tobacco and drug use) as no safe level of consumption during pregnancy has been established.
  • Nonfoods such as clay, starch, paraffin, and coffee grounds. Pica is a condition characterized by strong urges to consume nonfood items during pregnancy. It is important to discuss pica to avoid harmful effects during pregnancy.