Your diet is incredibly important for your baby’s healthy development and preventing unpleasant pregnancy symptoms.
There is the common misconception that mothers should be ‘eating for two’ during pregnancy. In fact, increasing your calorie intake by too much can be bad for both you and your baby. Eating well in pregnancy reduces the risk of your child having diabetes or heart disease in later life.
It is important to note that weight gain in pregnancy varies greatly though. Most pregnant women gain between 10-12.5kg (22lb-26lbs), putting on most of the weight after week 20. Much of this extra weight is a result of your baby growing. Your body will also be storing extra fat ready for producing breast milk for your baby.
Putting on too much or too little weight can lead to health problems for both you and your baby. Gaining a lot of weight can increase your risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure (also called pre-eclampsia) and back aches. It can also lead to a larger baby, resulting in the possible need for a caesarean.
You will probably feel hungrier than usual during your pregnancy and will therefore need to up your calorie intake. So instead, it is recommended that you increase your calorie consumption gradually during your pregnancy.
Weight gain in pregnancy varies greatly. Most pregnant women gain between 10kg and 12.5kg (22lb to 26lb), putting on most of the weight after week 20.
Much of the extra weight is due to your baby growing, but your body will also be storing fat, ready to make breast milk after your baby is born.
Your calorie increases by trimester:
- 1st and 2nd trimester (1-26 weeks): most women do not need any extra calories
- 3rd trimester (26 weeks onwards): most women need about 200 extra calories a day but this depends on your activity levels
A healthy pregnancy diet:
Rather than simply eating larger food portions or increasing your snacking, you should try to increase your consumption of the following food categories:
- Lean protein such as beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat, poultry and nuts
- Wholegrain and starchy carbohydrates such as bread, rice, pasta and potatoes
- Low-fat dairy products (e.g., low-fat yogurt, Unsweetened, fortified milk alternatives and cottage cheese).
Foods to avoid:
- Raw or rare meats including liver because it increases your risk of infection from bacteria. Game meats such as goose, partridge or pheasant as they can contain lead shot
- Sushi, fish such as swordfish, marlin, shark and raw shellfish should also be avoided because even when cooked, can be high in mercury
- Raw and unpasteurized animal products, such as unpasteurised milk and raw eggs (also in mayonnaise), can cause salmonella You can however eat raw, partially cooked and fully cooked British Lion eggs (eggs with a lion stamp on them)
- All types of pâté, including vegetable pâtés, as they can contain listeria and may contain a lot of vitamin A. It is also important to note that too much vitamin A can harm your baby
- Any unpasteurised cows’ milk, goats’ milk or sheep’s milk or foods made from them. For example, blue cheese and soft cheeses with white rinds- do not eat mould-ripened soft cheese (cheeses with a white rind) such as Brie and Camembert. These cheeses are only safe to eat in pregnancy if they have been cooked.
Join our free Healthy Baby & You programme to find out more about nutrition, eating habits and how to be more active. We are here to support you while you are pregnant, but we can also support you as a new mother adjusting to the changes to your body after the birth.Back to Blog