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Many readers have asked and suggested we extend our Soups for Children and Confinement Soups section to include a unique (but temporary) group of individuals – the expectant mother.

In Chinese traditions, it is commonly known that the first three months of pregnancy are the most critical.  I think western medicine will echo this too because the baby is just beginning to develop most of the critical pieces and there can be lots of instability.  You will too often hear people announce their pregnancy after the 3 month incubation period is over and be cautious of what they eat.

Here is a straight forward guide and list of soups safe to consume during pregnancy.  The basic concept of the Chinese soups is that none of them are extremely cooling, healing or potent in herbal additives.  Enjoy!

Black Silkie Chicken with Vegetables and Chestnuts
Chicken Herbal Soup
Fish Maw with Seabed Coconut and Pork Bones
Fish Tail Soup with Lily Bulb and Carrots
Ham Bone Sour Vegetable Soup (The sour soup will probably really hit the spot in your early months)
Orange Vegetable Fish Soup
Papaya Fish Soup
Pork Bones and Arrowroot Soup
Pork Bones with Lotus Root Soup
Red Dates and Young Coconut with Fish Tail Soup
Seabed Coconut, Carrot and Corn Soup
Tomato Fish Soup
Tri-Coloured Pepper Vegetarian Soup
Turkey Bone Sour Vegetable Soup

In general, I would recommend fish soups.  Although be careful of not using fish that are too large (due to the increased level of mercury in larger fish compared to smaller fish).


  • michele says:

    Hi Lady Tong,

    Im 6 weeks pregnant. Is it recommended to drink snakehead fish soup (sang yu soup) during this time? I read from internet sources, snakehead fish soup has lots of proteins, omega and its nutricious. On the other hand, i also heard this fish is for healing internal wounds. Please advise.

    Thanks a lot.

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Michele, should be OK to drink snakehead fish soup at any time of your pregnancy (depends also on the ingredients used inside). It’s better in general to have heaty foods vs cooling foods and the fish is neither. Hope this helps and g’luck! Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Eve,
    All the soups you mentioned are perfectly safe for you to drink during your pregnancy (first trimester). You can consider these two soups (that contain salted mustard greens – which help bring back some appetite and allow you to eat better or more after the vomiting).



    But going into your 2nd trimester, most things are safe for consumption (vs the 1st trimester). Hope this helps and all the best!

  • Yu516 says:

    Hi! I was just wondering are blue date water safe during the first and second trimesters?

  • wei says:

    In my first pregnancy I had some dong kwai with chicken.I had cramp for a few days and so severe that I ended up at a and e.Found out every time I have it it promotes contraction especially I have fibroids which make it worse.Another is tofu.Soy mimic hormones.Everytime I had it I will have cramp.So I m avoiding all these two items.

  • richrach says:

    Dear Lady Tong,

    I’m 22 weeks pregnant with my 2nd baby. I have had bad experiences with bleeding almost on a weekly basis since week 16.

    Is there any recommendations on nutritious soup to strengthen my ppregnancy?

    Thank you.

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Richrach,

    Yes – go with rich, healing and dense soups – ie: double-boiling. Chicken soup is best – or even black chicken (silkie chicken) with Chinese herbs. Here are a few you can try.


    Hope this helps and g’luck!

  • Allison says:

    Dear Lady Tong,

    Is it safe to eat bitter melon during your 3rd trimester? I have gestational diabetes and bitter melon seems to bring down my blood glucose level although I’ve read that it could also induce labor. In any case, I was wondering if it is common for chinese women to eat bitter melon during pregnancy. Thanks.

  • cat says:

    Hi there! I love your site its got so much useful information.
    I’m early into my second pregnancy about 7 weeks and my mum in law is here helping out. She likes making lots of soups but I’m a bit concerned as I don’t know if I can take any of the ingredients she is adding.
    We don’t want to tell her I’m pregnant yet as we haven’t passed the 1st trimester.
    Can you let me know what to avoid?
    Is something like white fungus and pork ribs soup ok? What about fa Kay Sam?
    I know i should avoid wood ear fungus.
    Any help would be great she’s actually boiling soup tonight so need to know if I have to avoid it.

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Cat, avoid any cooling ingredients – especially in your first trimester. This includes Fa Kay Sum (ginseng), bitter melon, water melon, most melons in soup like winter melon, fuzzy melon, snow pears. Go with neutral vegetables like corn, old cucumber, lotus roots, most roots are good. Hope this helps. White fungus is OK, pork ribs is OK. Hope this helps! Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Allison, it’s a cooling food, so it may help speed up / induce labour, although perfect OK during the third trimester. In fact, the Chinese have this interesting old wives’ tale where they encourage women who are ready to give birth to eat lots of water melon, that will definitely cause contractions (that’s what cooling foods do). It’s common to eat bitter melon during the tail end of the pregnancy! Congrats and g’luck! Lisa

  • Catherine says:

    Is red dates and dried longans safe to use for soups during early stage of pregnancy? Should I avoid them during late pregnancy? Can I boil them together with ginger slices for daily consumption to replace my daily in-take of water during confinement. Thank You.

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Catherine, yes it is. Both red dates and dried longans are warming ingredients and completely safe for early pregnancies, as well as late pregnancy. And you can definitely boil with ginger as needed, although be careful of it being too heaty – this really depends on whether your body can take it or not. You’ll know though, hopefully. But perfectly safe ingredients for the whole pregnancy! Hope this helps and congrats! Lisa

  • chris says:

    Can my wife drink turtle soup/ water fish with chinese herbal and also eats sea cumcumber?

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Chris, certainly! Actually, the turtle is a heaty meat and can be eaten any time during the pregnancy (especially postpartem). Depends on the Chinese herbs though, stay neutral or a bit on the heaty side with stuff like red dates, wolfberries, longans, Chinese Yams. I’m unsure about sea cucumbers, that I will have to ask my herbalist and get back to you. However, keep with a general rule of thumb about staying on the heatier side versus cooler side of foods – especially in the first trimester. This is why the Chinese avoid watermelon, most melons, cooling herbal teas, chrysanthemum tea, snow pears. Hope this helps and congrats!! Lisa

  • ForLily says:

    Is drinking turtle soup ok during the 1st few months of pregnancy?

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear ForLily, depending on what you put in it, turtle soup is considered a warming meat and perfectly OK for drinking it at any time during your pregnancy (and even better for your postpartum). What were you thinking of putting in it? Lisa

  • Ester says:

    Hi LadyTong,

    Is this drink: tong sum + red dates + goji berry + longan safe to drink during 1st trimester of pregnancy? Thank you.

  • Shirley says:

    Hi Lady Tong,

    I am in the early stages of pregnancy and have been advised to stay away from food such as carrots, papaya and gourds as they can cause MC, but I see that you have recommended soup with these ingredients for the 1st trimester and now I’m confused. Please can you clarify if they’re ok to consume during 1st tri? Many thanks!!

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Shirley, carrots are mildly cooling which is why if you’re concerned, do avoid them. However the gourds (chayotes) are neutral, so should be OK and papayas are neutral as well. It also really depends on your condition in your pregnancy. When in doubt, I would say err on the side of caution and throw in 3-4 slices of ginger into your soup if you use gourds or papayas – this will shift the soup to become heaty. Also throw in a handful of dried dragon eyes as these are also heaty. Hope this helps! Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Ester, not sure if I replied as my site was down and have been dealing with technical issues. Maybe remove the tong sum – any “sums” are usually associated as cooling ingredients and to be safe, avoid. If you want it to be a little more heaty, pop in a few slices of fresh ginger. Hope this helps! Lisa

  • Sally says:

    In 1st trimester can I boil tong sum, goji berry, longan, red dates with chicken?

  • V says:

    Hi lady tong
    I am pregnant, coming to 6 weeks. I have a bad cough for few weeks now. My mom cooked me crocodile meat soup with herbs. The crocodile meat was frozen, but from few months ago. Is it safe for me to drink?

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear V, crocodile meat is a pretty heaty meat – perfectly safe for pregnant ladies and actually recommended as a confinement meat for soups. The real question is what type of herbs? But the meat is great for first trimester and post partum! Congrats!!! Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Sally, maybe remove the “tong sum”. Some “sums” are known to be cooling and while they are labelled a certain way, just to be safe. The rest are perfectly safe and actually heaty ingredients which are safe for first trimesters and even perfect for post partum. Congrats!! Lisa

  • Josephine says:

    Hi can just check during 6 month pregnancy can we drink fan kok soup.. Need to know

  • Ange says:

    Hi lady Tong

    I’m 11 weeks pregnant and had 3 pieces of wood ear fungus in a tong po soup now I’m worried. Should I be drinking any cold soups? Is it safe to eat wood ear during pregnancy ?

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  • Michelle says:


    Can drink green & orange carrot soup during first trimester? Is green carrot too ‘Liang’?

    Thanks very much for your advice.

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  • Cass cass says:

    Hi lady tong

    I’m currently in my 1st trimester. Am I able to take old cucumber soup?


  • Estee says:

    Hi, I’m in my 20weeks. I just boiled pork ribs soup with old cucumber, red dates and goji berries. Is this soup safe for my consumption?

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Estee, old cucumbers (the orange / yellow kinds) are a bit cooling, however, you’re in your 2nd trimester, so should be OK. However, always consult your doctor first on anything you’re not sure of, but in general, it’s the 1st trimester that the Chinese are more sensitive on. Hope pregnancy going well and you should have delivered? All the best! Lisa

  • Cindy says:

    Hi LadyTong,

    Hope you are keeping well. I chanced upon your page. I am so grateful! Just a quick question.. can I boil black beans with chicken and goji berries for consumption during first trimester?
    I had a miscarriage 9 months ago. Is this soup safe for consumption for first trimester? Many thanks for your help and advice!

  • JNT says:

    Hi, I’m in my early pregnancy. Can I take apple soup?

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