Healthy eating during pregnancy
Eating well in pregnancy will ensure you remain well and help your unborn baby reach their full health potential. The food we eat in pregnancy and the diet of children in the first two years can influence overall health and wellbeing. There's lots of tasty foods that can be easily prepared to help you remain fit and well in your pregnancy.
Visit first steps nutrition eating well for a healthy pregnancy a simple guide.
What do you need to eat in pregnancy?
You don’t need a special diet, but it’s important to get the right balance of foods for you and your baby.
Important nutrients to eat during pregnancy.
- Calories - Calories give you energy. Towards the end of your pregnancy (27-40 weeks) you may require some additional calories to support your growing baby Calories can be obtained from fats, carbohydrates.
- Protein - Protein provides the building blocks for your baby to grow. Foods high in protein include meat, fish, poultry, dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, eggs beans and pulses.
- Carbohydrates and fats - foods in this group provide energy. You don't need to increase the amount of carbohydrates and fats you eat when pregnant. Foods in this group include bread, potatoes, rice, noodles and pasta, breakfast cereals.
- Vitamins and minerals - eat plenty of fruits and vegetables in pregnancy. They're a good source of vitamins and minerals. It's recommended that you eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables also contain fibre which helps prevent constipation.
A General guide to eating well
- Choose foods low in fat, sugar and salt. Read the labels of packaged foods.
- Eat less often in small amounts
- Limit fruit juice/smoothies to 150ml a day. Drink more water
- Use oils and spreads in small amounts
Healthy Start vitamins are free for all mothers who are pregnant or breastfeeding in Hertfordshire - www.healthystart.nhs.uk
Preparing food safely
- Wash all fruits and vegetables to remove traces of soil that may harbour a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis. This can lead to serious problems if contracted during pregnancy resulting in miscarriage or still birth.
- Wash your hands, utensils and work surfaces after preparing raw foods such as poultry, eggs, fish shell fish and raw vegetables.
- Use a separate knife and chopping board for raw meats
- Always heat ready prepared foods until they are steaming hot
- Store raw foods away from ready to eat foods
- Boil eggs until both the white and yellow are hard
Common Food infections
- Only drink pasteurised milk or UHT milk
- Avoid eating:
- ripened soft cheese such as Camembert, Brie and blue veined cheese.
- uncooked or undercooked prepared ready meals
- Avoid raw or partially cooked eggs or foods that may contain them
- Avoid raw or partially cooked poultry, especially chicken
Read tips on meal planning and further information on eating well in pregnancy for adults and for teenagers.