Pregnancy Nutrition for Healthy Babies: What to Avoid

There are some things that can harm or hurt your baby if you drink, eat, or do them while you are pregnant. You may need to make changes to what you do now, but you can do it for you and your baby.

Graphic of a no alcohol sign


Alcohol can cause serious birth defects for your baby. This is not a joke.

Do not drink alcohol while you are pregnant.

This means:

  •   No Wine
  •   No Beer
  •   No Shots
  •   No Liquor
  •   No Cocktails
  •   No Drinks with Alcohol of Any Kind
Graphic of a no smoking sign

Smoking and Drugs

Smoking tobacco or doing drugs can also cause birth defects. If you smoke or do drugs, talk to your health care provider about how to get help. You need to stop smoking and doing drugs for the health of you and your baby.


Some kinds of fish have big amounts of mercury in them. They are not safe to eat.

Photo of fish and shellfish

Do not eat these fish:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King Mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Albacore Tuna

Some fish have small amounts of mercury in them. They are safe to eat in pregnancy.

You can eat these fish:

  •   Shrimp
  •   Salmon
  •   Pollock
  •   Catfish
  •   Tilapia
Photo of a cup of coffee


Too much caffeine is not good for your baby. Less is always better!

Do not drink more than 1 cup of coffee or 1 soda pop each day.
Do not drink any Red Bull or other energy drinks!

Non-Food Items

You may crave or desire to eat things that are not food. Talk with your health care provider if you feel like eating non-food items. You should not eat things that are not food, even if you really want to.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2011). Nutrition during pregnancy. Available at

Bailey, B. A., & Sokol, R. (2008). Pregnancy and alcohol use: Evidence and recommendations for prenatal care. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 51(2), 436-444. doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e31816fea3d

Ethen, M. K., Ramadhani, T. A., Scheuerle, A. E., Canfield, M. A., Wyszynski, D. F., Druschel, C. M. et al. (2009). Alcohol consumption by women before and during pregnancy. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 13, 274-285. doi: DOI 10.1007/s10995-008-0328-2

Kaiser, L. L., & Allen, L. (2008). Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition and lifestyle for healthy pregnancy outcomes. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108, 553-561. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.01.030

Kuczkowski, K. M. (2007). The effects of drug abuse on pregnancy. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 19(6), 578-585. doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e3282f1bf17

Lumley, J., Chamberlain, C., Dowswell, T., Oliver, S., Oakley, L., & Watson, L. (2009). Interventions for promoting smoking cessation during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3, CD001055. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001055.pub3

U.S. Department of Agriculture (2011). MyPlate. Available from

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