I Accidentally Ate Ceviche While Pregnant

Oh no, you’ve done it! You enjoyed a tasty dish of ceviche, relishing the blend of fresh fish and citrus, only to remember that you’re pregnant and maybe you shouldn’t have. But why is this a concern? Is eating ceviche, especially with raw fish, a problem during pregnancy? Let’s explore.

Understanding Ceviche

Ceviche is a popular dish in many Latin American countries. It involves marinating raw seafood in citrus juices, such as lime or lemon juice. The citric acid in the juice doesn’t cook the seafood in the traditional sense, but it does alter its protein structure, similar to cooking.

Risks Associated with Eating Raw Fish


Food Poisoning

Eating raw fish carries certain risks for the general population, not just pregnant women. The biggest concern is food poisoning. Undercooked fish, uncooked seafood, or improperly handled seafood can harbor harmful bacteria, leading to foodborne illness.

Common Parasites in Raw Fish

Raw seafood, particularly uncooked fish, can host common parasites. When consumed, these parasites may cause unpleasant symptoms, such as abdominal discomfort, nausea, or diarrhea.

Why Pregnant Women Are at Higher Risk


Risk to the Unborn Child

Pregnant women, or expectant mothers, have immune systems that are slightly suppressed, which makes them more susceptible to foodborne diseases. If a pregnant woman eats ceviche made with raw fish and gets food poisoning, this can potentially harm the unborn baby.

Early Labor

Severe food poisoning can sometimes cause early labor or other complications in pregnancy. Hence, many healthcare professionals advise pregnant people to avoid eating raw or undercooked seafood, including ceviche.

Can I Eat Cooked Ceviche During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy often brings with it a host of dietary restrictions and guidelines, as the health and safety of both mother and baby become paramount. With many foods suddenly off-limits or consumed with caution, you may wonder where dishes like ceviche, typically made with raw fish, fall in the spectrum. More specifically, you might ask: Can I eat cooked ceviche during pregnancy?

The good news is, yes, you can safely enjoy cooked ceviche while you’re expecting.

Understanding Cooked Ceviche

Although traditional ceviche involves marinating raw seafood in citrus juices, many variations exist, some of which involve cooking the seafood before marinating. These versions are often referred to as “cooked ceviche,” even though the “cooking” might only involve a brief searing or blanching of the seafood.

For example, shrimp ceviche recipes often call for blanching the shrimp before marinating it. Some fish ceviche recipes might recommend a quick sear of the fish before marinating. These additional cooking steps are designed to kill potential bacteria or parasites that could pose risks, especially to pregnant women.

Eating Cooked Ceviche Safely During Pregnancy

When it comes to eating cooked ceviche during pregnancy, the key word here is “cooked.” The fish or seafood should be heated to a safe internal temperature to kill any harmful bacteria or parasites. Using a food thermometer can be helpful to ensure the seafood is cooked properly.

However, even cooked seafood needs to be handled and stored safely to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses. Make sure the seafood is fresh, stored at the correct temperature, and prepared in a clean environment. Additionally, pay attention to the other ingredients in the ceviche. All components, including the vegetables and citrus juices, should be fresh and handled hygienically.

Pregnancy doesn’t mean you have to miss out on enjoying ceviche. Opt for cooked variations of the dish, ensure all ingredients are fresh and handled correctly, and always prioritize safety when it comes to food preparation and storage. With these precautions, you can safely satisfy your ceviche cravings during pregnancy.

As always, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider about your diet during pregnancy to address any individual concerns or conditions. Remember, every pregnancy is unique, and what works for one person might not work for another.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a crucial time to focus on good nutrition, but it also comes with a list of foods that should be avoided or limited due to potential risks to the baby. Here are some foods you should avoid during pregnancy.

Raw or Undercooked Seafood

Raw or undercooked seafood, including sushi, raw oysters, and dishes like ceviche, should be avoided during pregnancy. These can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause foodborne illnesses.

Uncooked Meat and Deli Meats

Uncooked or undercooked meats can carry several types of bacteria, including Listeria, Toxoplasma, and Salmonella, which are harmful to pregnant women and unborn babies. Deli meats, including hot dogs, should also be avoided unless they are heated until steaming hot.

Raw Eggs

Raw eggs or any foods containing raw eggs should be avoided because of the potential exposure to salmonella. Some homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream, or custards might be made with raw eggs.

Unpasteurized Milk, Cheese, and Fruit Juice

Foods and beverages that are unpasteurized can carry foodborne illnesses, such as Listeria. Stick to pasteurized versions or heat unpasteurized juice to kill any potential bacteria.

High Mercury Fish

Certain types of fish, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, are high in levels of mercury and should be avoided. Tuna should be eaten in moderation.


Alcohol can interfere with the healthy development of the baby, and no amount is safe during pregnancy. It’s best to avoid it altogether.


While most studies show that moderate levels of caffeine are not harmful, it’s usually recommended to limit your intake to 200 milligrams per day, the amount in about one 12-ounce cup of coffee.

Unwashed Fruits and Vegetable

Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy pregnancy diet, but they should be thoroughly washed to remove any potential bacteria.

Certain Herbal Teas and Supplements

Not all herbs are safe to consume during pregnancy. Some might stimulate contractions or interfere with nutrient absorption. Check with your healthcare provider before using herbal teas or supplements.

Pregnancy requires extra care when it comes to food choices. While this list might seem daunting, remember there are plenty of healthy and delicious foods you can enjoy during pregnancy. Always consult with your healthcare provider if you have questions about your diet.

Accidentally Ate Ceviche While Pregnant: What to Do?


Feeling Sick

If you feel sick after eating ceviche while pregnant, seek medical attention right away. Go to the emergency room or urgent care center if you experience severe symptoms.

No Symptoms

If you’ve consumed raw fish in ceviche and don’t feel sick, don’t panic. Not all raw seafood will make you ill. Monitor your health and discuss the situation with your healthcare provider at the next prenatal visit.

How to Avoid Future Risks


Safe Seafood Choices

Certain fish types are safer to eat during pregnancy when cooked correctly. Cooked fish like salmon or sea bass, high in omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins, are a healthy choice.

Proper Cooking Methods

Cooking at home? Use a meat thermometer to ensure your seafood is cooked to the correct temperature, reducing the risk of foodborne disease. Properly cooked seafood can still be a part of your pregnancy diet.

Safe Ways to Enjoy Ceviche While Pregnant


Cooked Ceviche Options

Many Latin American countries offer versions of ceviche using cooked shrimp or other cooked seafood. This could be a safer alternative if you’re pregnant but still crave ceviche.

Using Fresh and Frozen Seafood Safely

Whether using fresh or frozen seafood, ensure it’s stored and prepared safely. Frozen seafood safely thawed and cooked can be a good option.


While there are risks associated with eating raw fish like ceviche while pregnant, knowing these risks allows you to make informed decisions. If you’ve accidentally eaten ceviche while pregnant, don’t panic. Monitor your symptoms, and consult your healthcare provider. There are safe ways to enjoy seafood, even ceviche, while pregnant. It’s all about knowing the right choices and preparation methods.



  1. Is it safe for pregnant women to eat ceviche?Generally, it’s advised that pregnant women avoid raw or undercooked seafood, including ceviche. However, some versions of ceviche use cooked seafood, which can be safer.
  2. What if I accidentally ate raw seafood while pregnant?Don’t panic. Monitor your symptoms, and if you feel unwell, seek medical attention. Not all raw seafood will make you ill.
  3. Can I eat cooked seafood while pregnant?Yes, most cooked seafood, when cooked and handled properly, is safe to eat during pregnancy.
  4. What are the risks of eating raw fish during pregnancy?Raw fish can carry harmful bacteria and parasites, leading to foodborne illness. Pregnant women are more susceptible to these illnesses, which can sometimes harm the unborn child.
  5. How can I safely enjoy seafood while pregnant?Opt for cooked seafood, properly handle and store fresh and frozen seafood, and consider using a meat thermometer to ensure proper cooking.


This post is written and edited by Sandy who is a clinical pharmacist with over 20 years of experience specializing in pre-natal and post-natal care.