A guide to pregnancy food: the do's and don'ts

Now that you're eating for two it's important that you get all the right nutrients, and avoid any risks, by eating the right foods.

Updated June 28, 2019

diet-during-pregnancy-pregnant-woman-lying-on-back

Staying fit and healthy is more important than ever when you’re pregnant. From avoiding alcohol to quitting smoking, there are a lot of ways you can give your little one the best start in life - and knowing what to eat during pregnancy is one of the most vital! To help you maintain a safe diet during pregnancy, take a look at our complete guide.

Always check with your doctor before introducing something new into your pregnancy diet to make sure it’s helpful and not harmful.

What foods should you eat when pregnant

There are a lot of healthy food and drinks for pregnancy that you can incorporae into your diet. These include:

  • Greek yoghurt: full of calcium and with probiotic bacteria to aid digestion, Greek yoghurt makes a great addition to a pregnancy diet.
  • Legumes: full of folate (B9), legumes - such as lentils, chickpeas and beans - are essential to keeping your baby healthy.
  • Sweet potatoes: you should always increase the amount of vitamin A you eat when pregnant, and sweet potatoes are a great way to do this.
  • Salmon: a lot of pregnant women don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids so try eating salmon 2-3 times a week.
  • Eggs: with plenty of great protein, eggs are an easy way to get the essential nutrients that you both need.
  • Broccoli: with antioxidants, fibre, vitamins C, K, and A, and iron, broccoli is a great ingredient to add to your daily meals.

Pregnancy food guidelines

Just as you need to know what to eat when pregnant, you should also be aware of what kind of foods to avoid. Here are just a few examples of foods you should cut out because they can pose a risk to your unborn baby:

  • Undercooked or raw fish and meat: these can cause infections that may be harmful, such as Salmonella or norovirus.
  • Fish such as shark, marlin, and swordfish: these are high in mercurcy which can be toxic in large quantities.
  • Raw eggs: also risks dangerous infections such as Salmonella.
  • Caffeine: this cannot be metabolised by your baby before birth so high levels can build up. Cut back as much as possible.
  • Raw sprouts: another potential source of Salmonella infections, raw sprouts include beansprouts and radish.
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables: their surfaces may have been exposed to parasites or bacteria that are harmful.
  • Unpasteurised milk and cheese: another common source of infections such as Salmonella or E. Coli.

Pregnancy diet tips

One of the best ways to make sure you’re eating well for your baby is to check what pregnancy food tips your doctor has for you. This is especially important if you have a specific diet, like vegetarianism, that will change the foods you need to be eating more or less of.

Here are some general tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t forget breakfast! Try cooked breakfast cereals with fruit or fortified foods with nutrients. If you’re feeling sick, start small and eat more food later in the morning.
  • Eat foods with fibre. Choose a variety of vegetables and fruits to include in your diet.
  • Snack healthily. A yogurt or whole grain crackers are great snack options if you feel peckish throughout the day.
  • Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol. Drink decaffeinated coffee or tea and water instead of soda.

Keep this pregnancy diet guide to use as a reference throughout your pregnancy and you’ll be helping your baby to stay strong and healthy.

  • Ask for your doctor's advice.
  • Ask other mothers what they ate and what they cut out.
  • Attend pregnancy groups where topics like this will be discussed.
  • Refer back to this guide!
  • Originally published June 18, 2019