Picnics and barbecues are still a win when you’re pregnant, especially when other summer entertainments seem tiring or uncomfortable. Here are some tips to make picnics and BBQs work for you…

1. Know which foods to avoid when you’re pregnant

NHS will give you a full list of foods to avoid when you’re pregnant but key summer foods you can’t have include:

  • uncooked soft cheeses
  • cured meats
  • homemade mayonnaise unless it’s made with lion stamped eggs (shop-bought mayonnaise is fine)
  • homemade ice-cream unless it’s made with lion stamped eggs (again, shop-bought ice-cream is fine).

(NHS Choices 2017; Tommy’s, 2018a; WebMD 2018)

The good news is: a 99 from the ice-cream van is absolutely fine.

2. Check barbecued meat and fish

It’s totally fine to scoff burgers done on the barbecue when you’re pregnant, but just check that the meat is thoroughly cooked. Otherwise, you can get food poisoning from the bacteria (Janakiraman, 2008; Fit Pregnancy, 2018; Mom Junction, 2018).

Check that meat isn’t pink in the middle and stick a skewer into the thickest part of the meat to make sure the juices run clear. And don’t worry about offending the host by checking: it’s important when you’re pregnant.

If you’re doing the barbecue yourself, wait until the charcoal is glowing red and has a powdery grey surface before you start to cook. Make sure you use separate utensils and plates for raw and cooked meat (Janakiraman, 2008). And, if you want to be really sure, cook the meat in the oven first then just finish it off on the barbie for that authentic taste.

3. Ditch the alcohol during pregnancy

For a full guide on drinking during pregnancy, click here or check out the current guidelines here. Be aware that there is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol to drink when you are pregnant (RCOG, 2018). But even if you do choose to drink a small amount of alcohol, watch out at barbecues and picnics. Topping up from jugs of Pimms where you don’t know its strength or glugging rosé in the sun and getting dehydrated can all be dangerous for you and your baby. Stick to the soft drinks and, if you like to drink, save the boozy bash for next summer instead.

4. Stay in the shade

Your skin can be more sensitive than normal when you’re pregnant so be careful and stay under that parasol. It’s also a good idea to grab a wide-brimmed hat and slap on a high factor sun cream (What to expect, 2018a).

5. Demand a chair

Lying on the grass for seven hours straight is tough enough when you’re up for an lengthy catch up with your friends and not growing a human. But try not to tackle that challenge when you’re pregnant. Instead, take your own camping chair (diva behaviour: totally acceptable when pregnant) or ask someone politely if you can have a seat (WebMD, 2018b).

6. Rest up swollen feet and ankles

Oedema is the swelling caused by fluid retention. It can make you uncomfortable and self-conscious, especially towards the end of your pregnancy.

Standing up for a long time can make it worse. So once you’ve got your hands on that chair (see above), grab a little foot stool (or a makeshift one). That way your legs are up too, which should ease the oedema (Tommy’s, 2018b).

7. Water, water, water

When you’re pregnant, you can be extra prone to dehydration (Netdoctor, 2016). So you could bring your own water bottle with you. You could also grab a spot next to that water jug and keep topping up (Netdoctor, 2016).

8. Tailor the maternity wardrobe for summer

You’re going to need loose, billowy cute summer dresses and stretchy maxis. Sling in a pair of maternity shorts with a super-comfy high waist belly and you’re good to go (Thinkmoney, 2016; What to Expect, 2018b). If you don’t want to spend too much on clothes you won’t wear for long, check out NCT’s nearly new sales for a bargain.

9. Crash the kids’ paddling pool

Child’s paddling pool? Dip your toes in. Ice lollies available? Sign yourself up. Raising your temperature can be uncomfortable and even dangerous for mums-to-be. So take all the chances available to stay cool (Netdoctor, 2016). Especially if they involve yummy ice-creams.

10. Pack snacks

You should be ok if you’re heading to a picnic but if you’re going to a barbecue, we all know there could be a long wait for any food other than salad. And when you’re battling morning sickness or a raging pregnancy hunger, waiting is not high on your agenda. So pack something starchy like oatcakes or ginger biscuits to stave off your hunger (What to Expect, 2018c).

This page was last reviewed in November 2018

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing whatNCT activities are happening nearby.


Fit Pregnancy. (2018) The pregnant woman’s guide to barbecues. Available at: https://www.fitpregnancy.com/nutrition/prenatal-nutrition/pregnant-womans-guide-barbecues [Accessed 19th November 2018].

Janakiraman V. (2008) Listeriosis in pregnancy: diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 1(4).

Mom Junction. (2018) Is it safe to eat barbecue during pregnancy? Available at: https://www.momjunction.com/articles/barbecue-during-pregnancy_00372272/#gref [Accessed 19th November 2018].

Netdoctor. (2016) Staying cool during pregnancy. Available at: https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/parenting/pregnancy-birth/a9201/pregnancy-and-overheating/ [Accessed 19th November 2018].

NHS. (2017) Foods to avoid in pregnancy. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/foods-to-avoid-pregnant/ [Accessed 19th November 2018].

RCOG. (2018) Alcohol and pregnancy. Available at: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/alcohol-and-pregnancy/ [Accessed 19th November 2018].

Thinkmoney. (2016) How to dress on a budget if you’re pregnant this summer. Available at: https://www.thinkmoney.co.uk/news-advice/how-to-dress-on-a-budget-if-youre-pregnant-this-summer-0-6188-0.htm [Accessed 19th November 2018].

Tommy’s. (2018a) Food to avoid in pregnancy. Available at: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/nutrition-pregnancy/foods-avoid-pregnancy [Accessed 19th November 2018].

Tommy’s. (2018b) Swollen hands and feet in pregnancy. Available at: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/symptom-checker/swollen-hands-and-feet-pregnancy [Accessed 19th November 2018].

WebMD. (2018a) Foods to avoid when you are pregnant.. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/baby/features/foods-to-avoid-when-youre-pregnant#2 [Accessed 19th November 2018].

WebMD. (2018b) Good posture during pregnancy. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/baby/posture#1 [Accessed 19th November 2018].

What to Expect. (2018a) Sensitive skin during pregnancy. Available at: https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/whose-body/skin-sensitive.aspx [Accessed 19th November 2018].

What to expect. (2018b) 8 wardrobe staples for summer pregnancies. Available at: https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/photo-gallery/8-wardrobe-staples-for-summer-pregnancies [Accessed 19th November 2018].

What to expect. (2018c) Traveling and eating during pregnancy. Available at : https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/eating-well/whenever-wherever/on-the-road.aspx [Accessed 19th November 2018].

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