Nutrition During Pregnancy

By Natalie Rumble, Nutritionist Resource

During pregnancy, the unborn baby will get all its nutrients from the expecting mother, but to make sure that both you and baby are healthy and prepared for labor it is important to eat a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and water. However, eating healthy isn't just about eating the right things, it also involves the foods to avoid as food safety in pregnancy is a priority.Here is a list of some of the foods to avoid or limit to during your nine months of pregnancy:

  • Undercooked or raw eggs
  • Undercooked or very rare meats
  • Raw fish  sushi, smoked salmon, parma ham
  • Unpasteurised milk, cheese or yogurts
  • Soft, unpasteurized cheeses  brie, camembert, or blue veined cheeses (check the label to determine if they are pasteurized)
  • Pate/liver has extremely high amounts of Vitamin A and can interfere with the development of the brain.
  • Swordfish, marlin and shark has high levels of mercury and can attack the baby's nervous system. Also limit your intake of tuna to 4 medium sized cans (140g drained weight) OR two fresh tuna steaks (170 raw weight) per week.
  • Peanuts  The Department of Health Guidelines have now been changed due to recent studies show that there is no evidence of peanuts being unsafe to eat during pregnancy even with a family history of allergies.
  • Alcohol  Excessive alcohol has been associated with many fetal problems and even moderate consumption could affect the baby's brain development.

 Here is a list of just some of the foods that should be included in your diet:

  • Protein: Chicken, Fish, Beef, Pork, Turkey, Tofu, Nuts
  • Whole Grains: Brown Rice, Whole Oats, Whole Wheat Bread
  • Green Vegetables: Spinach, Broccoli, Dark Green Lettuces, Green Beans, Asparagus
  • Dairy: Milk, Eggs, Yoghurt, Hard Cheese
  • Iron: Red Meat, Fish, Poultry, Dried Fruits
  • Folic Acid: Spinach, Asparagus, Greens, Brussels sprouts, Soybeans, Root vegetables, Whole Grains, Kidney beans, White beans, Salmon, Orange juice, Avocado, Milk

Food Cravings

During your 9 beautiful months of pregnancy, you may experience food cravings such as:

  • Sweet Foods
  • Dairy Products
  • Salty Snacks
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Hot, Spicy Foods

Sometimes cravings are a hint to include more of something into your diet as your body needs more vitamins and minerals than normal, but you will probably find that food cravings will gradually fade away however if not you'll be fine as long as you're eating a balanced diet and fitting your cravings around nutritious meals rather than replacing breakfast, lunch and dinner with a pickled egg!

First Trimester

Folic acid is a B Vitamin and during your first trimester (up to 12 weeks) it is very important to take a folic acid supplement as well as include the foods stated above to help protect the unborn baby from developing defects in the nerve system (neural tube defects) such as Spina Bifida.

Spind Bifida happens when the protective covering doesn't grow properly around the baby's spinal cord and can lead to permanent damage therefore it is very important to take a good vitamin supplement during the first trimester and if you are planning a pregnancy.

Second Trimester

In the second trimester continue to eat a well-balanced diet and increase your intake of daily calories by 300, this should be consumed through protein such as meats and grains. You may start to have problems with your digestive system and become more intolerant to certain foods, this is because the baby is growing and pushing down on your stomach causing indigestion and acid reflux. Try eating smaller meals and drinking lots of water between meals, also walking after eating can help with digestion. If you become intolerant to foods such as dairy products, try eating salmon and sardines as these are a good source of calcium.

Third Trimester

Towards the end of your pregnancy you will start to feel fuller much more quickly, as baby starts to triple in size. You may find that eating smaller amounts of food continually during the day and snacking on healthy foods will be the best way to make sure you continue to get a balanced diet with all the calories you need.

Paying close attention to your diet during pregnancy will help you feel better and may even settle morning sickness, as you are really eating for two! This is where a qualified nutritionist can help. A nutritionist can work with you to plan a balanced diet and exercise programme for you and your baby to stay healthy and safe.

Nutritionist Resource is a directory of qualified/registered nutritionists in the United Kingdom. 


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