Foods to limit


It’s important not to have too much caffeine. This is because high levels of caffeine can result in babies having a low birth weight, which can increase the risk of health problems in later life. High levels of caffeine might also cause miscarriage. It’s best not to have more than 200mg of caffeine a day when you’re pregnant.

The amount of caffeine in food and drink will vary, but as a guide each of these contain roughly 200mg or less of caffeine:

  • 2 mugs of instant coffee (100mg each)
  • 1 mug of filter coffee (140mg each)
  • 2 mugs of tea (75mg each)
  • 5 cans of cola (up to 40mg each)
  • 2 cans of ‘energy’ drink (up to 80mg each)
  • 4 (50g) bars of plain chocolate (up to 50 mg each). Caffeine in milk chocolate is about half that of plain chocolate

Remember that caffeine is also found in certain cold and flu remedies, so always check with your GP or another health professional before taking any of these.

Eating fish

You can eat most types of fish when you’re pregnant.  Eating fish is good for your health and the development of your baby. You just need to avoid some types of fish and limit the amount you eat of some others.

Avoid eating any of these fish when you’re pregnant:

  • shark, swordfish, marlin

Limit the amount of tuna you eat to:

  • no more than two tuna steaks a week (weighing about 140g cooked or 170g raw)
  • OR no more than four medium-size cans of tuna a week (with a drained weight of about 140g per can)

This is because shark, swordfish, marlin and tuna could contain high levels of mercury. If you take in high levels of mercury when you’re pregnant, this could affect your baby’s developing nervous system.

Have no more than two portions a week of any of these fish:

  • oily fish, including mackerel, sardines, salmon, trout and fresh tuna
  • sea bream, sea bass, turbot, halibut, rock salmon (also known as dogfish, flake, huss, rigg or rock eel)
  • brown crabmeat

This is because these types of fish can contain low levels of pollutants that can build up in the body over time, including dioxins and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).

Canned tuna doesn’t count as oily fish, so you can eat this as well as your maximum two portions of oily fish – but don’t eat more than the recommended amount of tuna. And remember that if you’re eating fresh tuna this will count towards your two portions of oily fish (as well as your portions of tuna).

Don’t forget that eating fish is good for your health and the development of your baby, so you should still aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish.


Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence.