Pregnancy gives your body a hard time, so healthy eating during your pregnancy is essential for you and your baby.
You probably already know how important it is to eat a well-balanced diet, but it is even more important when you are pregnant.
Keep in mind now you are eating for two. Whatever you eat, the baby eats as well. In fact, the baby actually takes your nourishments so you must eat enough for both of you.
What you eat influences your health and the short and long-term health of your baby. It’s important to eat a balanced, healthy, and varied diet when you’re pregnant.
The healthier you eat the better it is for your pregnancy
Never miss a meal while you are pregnant, especially breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and your baby has probably been waiting since he/she woke up in the middle of the night.
You may learn that if you wait too long before eating you start to feel sick, this is your body telling you to eat. Do it!
Make sure you are getting enough of the food you need daily. It takes 4-6 servings of dairy products a day for a healthy pregnancy.
This can include some cheeses (check all soft-cheese with your GP first!), milk & yoghurts. These foods provide your baby with calcium which it’ll need to develop healthy growing bones.
Adding extra calcium to your diet wouldn’t hurt you either, especially your teeth and bones.
Don’t forget about your fruit and vegetable servings. Lots of green is always a good choice, so are sweet potatoes. Not only will you be giving your body what it needs but you’ll start to have more energy.
A common fallacy about pregnancy and food is the need to “eat for two.” This is not entirely true.
In your first trimester, you can eat normally. You should then aim to increase your daily calorie intake by around 340 calories in your second trimester, increasing to around 430 calories a day for trimester three.
An optimal pregnancy eating plan should mainly consist of whole foods, with plenty of nutrients to fulfill you and your baby’s daily needs. Processed junk food is generally low in nutrients and high in calories, sugar, and added fats, and should be avoided.
The principles of a good diet stay the same when you are healthy eating during your pregnancy.
Foods to include in your pregnancy diet
- Meals that focus on starchy foods (wholegrain bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, and oats)
- Cooked fish, especially salmon. Be careful with tuna, swordfish, and other fish with high mercury levels
- Fruit & vegetables
- A good amount of proteins, like eggs, poultry, and lean meat
- Some dairy, like milk, yogurt, and hard cheese
Be very careful with the type of cheese you consume when pregnant.
Pregnant women are generally advised to avoid eating mould-ripened soft cheese, such as camembert or brie.
Gorgonzola also falls into this category.
Cheese made with mould can contain listeria, which is a bacteria that can be harmful to your unborn baby.
Be aware of the dangerous foods
Not all foods are safe to eat during your pregnancy.
Your immune system is placed under a lot of pressure during pregnancy. You’re suddenly much more vulnerable to viruses and food-borne illnesses.
Chronic cases of food poisoning can trigger premature labour or even a miscarriage.
Make sure you avoid these foods during your pregnancy
- Unpasteurised products – think brie and other soft cheeses
- Certain fish – exotic, shark, swordfish, anything potentially high in mercury
- Raw fish and eggs
- Undercooked meats – especially lunch meats. If you are buying a fresh sandwich ask them to heat the meat up a little
- Caffeine, fizzy drinks & chocolate – try weaning yourself off these items because the less caffeine in your system the better it is for your baby
It goes without saying that alcohol should be avoided altogether.
You may also learn that your stomach won’t handle certain foods that were fine before your pregnancy.
Some of those may include foods that contain grease, fast food, meat, and certain foods that have a strong odour.
Healthy eating during your pregnancy doesn’t mean you have to cut out all the fun in your life. You can still treat yourself from time to time. Frozen yoghurts and smoothies are both yummy pregnancy treats.
While you are making sure you get enough to eat throughout the day, that doesn’t mean neglecting your fluid intake. You’ll need lots of water and pastuerised juices throughout your pregnancy.
Supplements that complement healthy eating during your pregnancy
Eating a balanced diet is very important for you and your baby during your pregnancy but there are also supplements you can take that complement and support your pregnancy diet.
Make sure you talk to your GP or midwife to discuss what supplements are safe for you to take during your pregnancy.
- Folic acid helps prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Take 400 micrograms every day up until week 12
- Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and phosphate in the body. This keeps bones and teeth healthy. During your pregnancy, you will need to provide your baby with a supply for the first six months of their life. Aim to take 8-10 micrograms of Vitamin D daily whilst pregnant and breastfeeding
- Iron supplements are usually recommended only if you are anemic.
As with most things to do with pregnancy, if you’re ever unsure about what types of food or drink are safe for you to consume throughout your pregnancy, talk to your GP or midwife. They’ll be more than happy to share this with you.