Pregnancy Topics: Diet for a healthy pregnancy – What foods to eat when pregnant?

Antenatal Diet

To ensure having an easy birth and a healthy baby, it is important to stay fit and well throughout the pregnancy. This will involve making changes to your diet, whilst cutting out things which may potentially damage the developing foetus, such as cigarettes and alcohol.

A well-balanced diet is essential during pregnancy. ‘Eating for 2′ is unnecessary, and is bad for both mother and baby, whilst excess weight makes it difficult for the mother to regain their weight after birth. What is important is to ensure that expectant mothers get the best nutritional value out of their food, and to eat sensible quantities.

Vitamins play an important role, and are easily absorbed through sensible eating, and as such multivitamin supplements may be unnecessary. Minerals are as important as vitamins, and are also readily available in the foods we eat. Iron, Calcium, and Folic Acid tablets may be necessary during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Topics: Diet for a healthy pregnancy

Daily Diet should include:

  • 2-3 servings of Protein/Meat – 3 oz of meat, fish or cheese, or 1 – 1.5 cups of beans or Tofu, etc.
  • 3-4 servings of Dairy – 8 oz Skimmed Milk (any form such as cheese, low-fat yoghurt, even ice cream – but try to watch the fats!).
  • 2 Eggs – cooked any way.
  • 2 servings of Green Vegetables – preferably leafy, i.e. spinach, cabbage, etc. 1/4 – 1/2 Cup.
  • 6-10 servings of Grains/Bread – preferably whole (whole-wheat/grain bread 1 slice, brown rice 1 cup, oatmeal 1 cup, baked potato).
  • 1 Vitamin C source – Citrus fruit/juice, Tomato, Carrot, etc.
  • 3 Fat Servings – 1 tsp. oil/ butter/ sour cream/ mayonaise etc. (some fat-reduced products let you use 1 tbs. instead).
  • 1 serving other fruit – fruit juice, berries, or whole fruit.
  • 1 serving other vegetables.


Weekly, try to include:

  • 5 servings of yellow or orange coloured fruit/vegetables
  • 1 serving of liver (if you dislike, don’t force yourself)
  • 3 whole baked potatoes
  • Plenty of water/other fluids
  • Salt your food to taste for safe blood volume

N.B. – Each category is separate, and you cannot fill two with one food, e.g. 3 oz of cheese can be protein OR dairy, not both.
Vegetarian mothers:
1) Vegetable proteins are less concentrated than animal proteins, so larger potions are necessary.
2) Be sure to include foods rich in Iron, Zinc, Calcium and B12, as these are less concentrated in vegetable proteins.
3) The balance of amino acids is also different in vegetable protein foods, so you need to eat a variety of foods, and include a serving with each meal.
Quick Snacks:

  • Celery sticks with peanut butter
  • Dried Apricots
  • Banana
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Low-fat Yoghurt

Pitfalls: Things to avoid:

  • Skipping Breakfast – 12 hours is too long for baby to wait and increases calorie intake for the rest of the day
  • Not exercising – a 30 minute walk can decrease appetite and increase stamina
  • Too-large servings
  • Whole Milk
  • Fast/ Fried foods
  • Butter on bread and vegetables
  • Sauces and Gravy

Help Yourself:

  • If you suffer from nausea and vomiting, eat a dry biscuit with a cup of tea before getting up in the morning – it helps to eat little and often.
  • Indigestion and Heart Burn – avoid fried food, and try not to eat too late at night; allow yourself plenty of time to digest food before retiring in the evening.
  • Backache can be a problem – the key is posture. Also avoid picking up and carrying heavy objects.
  • Constipation – include roughage in your daily diet, such as vegetables, fruit, wholemeal bread, bran and cereal. Also try to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day.
  • Exercise – relax by taking a daily walk, swimming, or participate in gentle exercise such as Yoga. This will help to relieve stress for you and your baby.
  • Stretch Marks – When having a bath use a little baby oil in the water, massaging the oil into your breasts and abdomen, as this will help prevent stretch marks.
  • Feel Good, Look Good – Always wear comfortable clothing in flattering colours, avoiding clothing which is too tight. It is very important to wear a good maternity bra. Only wear shoes which are either flat or have low heels. Wear support tight to ensure varicose veins do not worsen during pregnancy. Pay special attention to your skin as part of your daily routine – use a good moisturiser on your hands, neck and face. Practice your ante natal and breathing exercises for ten minutes a day. Get plenty of rest, in order to build up your reserves of energy.


Your Nutritional Needs:

Nutrients Sources Effects
Proteins Meat, fish, poultry, dairy products. Protein builds up tissue that forms the baby, aids growth of the placenta, and strengthens the uterus.
Carbohydrates Flour, cereal, fruit, starchy vegetables, honey, milk. These are energy producing foods, of which pregnant women more of.
Fats Meat, poultry, oily fish, dairy products, eggs, oils, nuts. Fats are necessary to a balanced diet as they help the body absorb vitamins.
Vitamin A Dairy products, fish liver oils, margarine, carrots, apricots, tomatoes, green vegetables. Good for skin, eyes, bones, and many internal organs.
Vitamin B Group Green leafy vegetables, whole-wheat products, liver, kidneys, brewer’s yeast. Helps prevent constipation, nervousness, skin problems, increase energy levels and help form red blood cells.
Folic Acid (Vitamin B) Dark green lettuce, green peas, sprouts, spinach, green beans, broccoli, dried peas and beans, tinned baked beans, potatoes, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, melons, enriched breads, pasta, rice, cereals. Is necessary in the body before and during pregnancy for healthy blood and to reduce the risk of birth defects of the baby’s brain or spine. Supplements may be necessary.
Vitamin C Citrus fruits, berry fruits, melons, green vegetables (broccoli, cabbage), salad vegetables, green peppers, parsley, tomatoes, potatoes. Strengthens the placenta, aids the absorption of Iron and helps in formulation of the baby’s skin, ligaments and bones.
Vitamin D Fish liver oils, margarine, eggs, butter, cheese, liver. Helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential to build and strengthen bones.
Vitamin E Apples, carrots, cabbage, celery, eggs, musli, olive oil, sunflower seeds. To help circulation.
Vitamin K Green leafy vegetables, eggs, cereals, potatoes, strawberries. Important in the development of the blood clotting process
Calcium Dairy products, fish, nuts, orange, raspberries, dried fruit, leafy green vegetables, swede, turnips, cauliflower, sesame seeds. Builds the bones and teeth of the growing baby.
Iron Red Meat, liver, dried beans and peas, dried fruit, fortified cereals, eggs, pilchards, sardines, spinach, parsley, watercress, cocoa, chocolate, black treacle, nuts. Prevents anaemia – the baby has to store a reserve of Iron in its liver on which to draw while being on milk after birth. It continually saps the mothers natural supply in the womb. Supplements may be necessary.

Be careful never to overcook vegetables as this destroys the vitamins.

The information contained in or made available through This Site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any treatment, drug, food or supplement. You should regularly consult a doctor in all matters relating to physical or mental health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

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