Eating a healthy, balanced diet It is important to eat a healthy, varied diet during pregnancy. It is not necessary to “eat for two”. If you have a varied diet, you will be getting your required nutritional intake. For more information about diet and pregnancy click here
A few tips:
• Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables.
• Eat a variety of meat, fish and meat substitutes.
• Ensure you are getting enough iron. Iron is found in red meat, fish, poultry, eggs and many meat substitutes. Aim to slightly increase your intake of these during pregnancy to reduce the risk of iron-deficiency anaemia.
• Eat fish once a week, preferably oily fish. The fatty acids found in fish are important for the development of the nervous system and vision in the foetus. However, some fish are better to avoid.
Are you vegetarian?
You can manage without meat or fish without any problems, providing you ensure you eat meat substitutes and other foods to ensure the right nutritional balance. Meat substitutes are important for vegetarians to ensure you get enough iron, vitamin B1 and B12. B vitamins are mainly found in whole grains, potatoes, legumes, eggs and dairy products. Eggs and pulses, as well as meat substitutes, are also good sources of iron (read the product label for specific nutritional information).
Are you vegan?
It would be advisable to visit a dietician for recommendations regarding diet during pregnancy.
What food and drink should you avoid during pregnancy?
• Raw eggs, and products containing raw eggs;
• Unpasteurised milk – milk bought in the supermarket is pasteurised or heat treated and is safe to drink (look at the label to ensure it says ‘pasteurised’ or ‘heat treated’);
• Unpasteurised cheese – ask if the cheese is made with pasteurised or heat treated milk;
• Caffeinated drinks (coffee and energy drinks) – drink at most one energy drink a day, and limit the amount of coffee you drink;
• Raw meat – if you do wish to eat raw meat, refrigerate if for at least 2 days, ensuring it is cooled to at least 12 degrees to kill the parasite that causes toxoplasma (for more information on toxoplasma, see page 12);
• Liver – do not eat liver, or foods containing liver, including liver sausage or pâté, due to the high vitamin A content which can be harmful to the foetus;
• Certain herbal teas and herbal remedies
Avoid foodborne infections Good food hygiene is important, particularly during pregnancy. Always wash raw fruit and vegetables, and wash your hands and all kitchen utensils with soap and warm water after they have been in contact with raw meat, drying with a dry towel afterwards. Ensure that meat is well cooked through before serving. Take note of the best before date on food items, and do not eat perishable food after the best before date has passed.
Dieting and fasting during pregnancy Dieting during pregnancy is unhealthy for you and your baby. If you are considering fasting, for example during Ramadan, you should discuss this with your midwife.
We basically advise you to have a healthy and varied diet. If you do this it is not necessary to take any vitamin supplements. An exception to this rule is the folic acid vitamin. We advise women who want to become pregnant to take folic acid until they are 10 weeks pregnant. This reduces the risk of a baby with spina bifida. 1 tablet of 0.4 mg a day is sufficient. Folic acid tablets are available from the chemist or pharmacist without prescription.