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Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

This is an excerpt taken from ‘Mum, Baby & Toddler – together we learn’

Good nutrition during pregnancy is vital for a healthy mother and her growing unborn baby. As long as you are not eating junk food or foods that risk bacterial contamination you can pretty much eat in moderation what appeals to you.

Seafood is an important source of Omega 3 and protein during pregnancy, however limit intake to one or two servings per week to avoid ingesting high levels of mercury and consume seafood fresh and cooked to minimise bacterial or parasite contamination.


Take note of your cravings as this is usually what your body requires. Foods void of nutrients such as processed biscuits and cakes would best be substituted with something naturally sweet.

Eat small frequent quantities of food for comfort and to assist with the slowed passage of food and fluids that occurs during pregnancy. Extra folic acid is required for the growth and replication of new cells. Include a variety of all foods from the list below to ensure protein, zinc, iron, Vitamin C, calcium, Vitamin D, iodine, (DHA) omega 3 and folic acid are consumed:

  • Dairy foods including cheese, milk and yoghurt
  • Wholegrain breads and cereals
  • Lean meat, chicken, small fish varieties and eggs
  • Cooked dried beans and lentils
  • Variety of vegetables (especially green leafy) and fruits
  • Variety of nuts and seeds especially almonds
  • Avoid saturated fat and refined sugars that are found in takeaways, white and pre packaged foods
  • Drink at least eight glasses of fresh water a day and limit herbal tea to three per day
  • Include a little sea salt unless advised otherwise due to raised blood pressure
  • Regular sunshine on your skin.

While you are pregnant; a good approach to your diet, is eating to satisfy your appetite. It is not the opportunity to eat for two. Monitor your weight and avoid indulging in any food with empty kilojoules. In other words, increase the nutrients not the kilojoules. Keep your diet balanced and varied with natural goodness. Poor nutrition during pregnancy has been shown to develop poor nutrition programming in an unborn baby.


An acceptable weight gain over the course of pregnancy is determined by a healthy pre-conception weight. A woman in a healthy pre-conception weight can expect to gain between 11.5 to 16 kg. It is important to discuss your expected weight gain with your Dietitian or Doctor. Excessive weight gain has an increased risk of:

  • Birth by caesarean
  • High blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Weight retention postpartum
  • Miscarriage
  • Wound infection
  • Depression
  • Foetal anomalies
  • Birth complications.

In a multiple pregnancy, where the mother is expecting twins or triplets, a higher kilojoule intake is required and greater weight will be gained.


Listeria is a bacterium that can cross into the placenta and cause miscarriage and premature birth. To minimise acquiring Listeria contamination from food:

  • Ensure fresh foods are washed well
  • Avoid eating leftovers after 24 hours in the fridge
  • Cooked foods need to be eaten while still hot
  • Heat all deli foods such as soft cheeses and meats to at least 70°C which will kill any Listeria bacterium present.

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. She publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children. For more online resources visit

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