Pregnancy

Eating well in pregnancy

People often say to ‘eat for two’ when you’re pregnant. But this doesn’t mean eating twice as much as you normally would. It means considering two people when you are choosing what to eat – you and your growing baby.

Baby in womb healthy eating

When mums-to-be eat healthy food so do their babies

As a mum-to-be, you may already have a lot of knowledge about what’s best for your baby. Eating healthy food, drinking water and sleeping well does wonders for the baby growing in your womb. It’s great for you too – helping to keep your energy levels up and managing your weight gain.

Simple tips to help you feel better

  • Avoid fry-ups, high-calorie ready meals and ‘junk food’, as fatty foods are harder for your tummy to handle
  • Eat small amounts often
  • Plain porridge with fresh fruit makes a filling and healthy breakfast
  • Try to include foods like wholemeal bread, pasta, rice or potatoes with the skins on each day

Iced lemon tea

Lemon is great if you’re feeling sick. Even the smell of cut lemon, or a slice in a glass of water can help. Try this refreshing recipe.

What you need

  • 2-3 slices of lemon
  • Water
  • Ice cubes
  • Tea bags (decaffeinated)

How to make it at home

  1. Bring a small pan of water to the boil
  2. Turn off the heat, add two tea bags and leave to stew for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add the lemon to the pan
  4. Leave to cool and then serve in a glass filled with ice

Healthy Start

If you’re pregnant or have a child under four years old you could get Healthy Start vouchers to help buy some basic foods.

What would you like to know?

Mums-to-be don’t need to eat special food. A wide variety of healthy foods in the recommended amounts, including fruit and vegetables, will give you the nutrients you need. It’s a good idea to choose snacks that are quick and easy to make, such as beans on toast with a sprinkling of cheddar, a baked potato, vegetable soup, or a fruit salad.

Fruit and veg are full of goodness. Fresh, tinned or frozen fruit and veg are packed with vitamins and minerals. They contain fibre that helps to keep your digestive system working well and reduces constipation. High-fibre foods include porridge, beans, wholemeal bread, pasta and rice.

Some mums-to-be find they crave unusual things to eat – this is called Pica.

It could be ice or ice lollies, a curry or even banana sandwiches. Having small amounts of these foods is fine and you can often find healthier options to satisfy your cravings.

Mums-to-be need an extra 200 calories per day during the last three months of pregnancy. That’s about the same amount of calories in a 50g cube of cheese. Many women find eating a little and often can help in early pregnancy. If you’ve got a taste for sweet, sugary treats or salty, fatty snacks, look for healthier options.

For example, swap ice-cream for low fat frozen yoghurt or switch crisps for plain popcorn. This will help manage your weight gain and prepare your body for birth.

Have a chat with your midwife or GP if you have any questions about eating healthily in pregnancy.

Foods to avoid in pregnancy include raw eggs, unpasteurised milk, blue cheeses, soft cheese with white rind, goats cheese, some fish such as sword fish and any food that already causes you problems.

Cold, raw or under-cooked foods can contain harmful bacteria (heating to a high temperature kills these nasties). Normally, a grown-up’s body can cope with this but it could put your tiny baby at risk.

It’s best to avoid vitamin A when you’re pregnant. Some foods such as pate, liver, cod liver oil and some supplements contain high amounts of vitamin A which could harm your baby. For further information on foods to avoid in pregnancy visit the NHS website.

Healthy Start

It’s recommended that women who are trying to conceive, pregnant or breastfeeding take a supplement of both folic acid and Vitamin D.

Folic acid is important while trying to conceive and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and can help your baby’s spine development.

Vitamin D helps you and your baby absorb calcium which leads to healthy teeth, bones and muscles.  It’s important that you get enough vitamin D while you’re pregnant and breastfeeding.

Find out if you’re eligible for free Healthy Start vitamins that contain vitamins D and folic acid at healthystart.nhs.uk.

If you’re not eligible for Healthy Start vitamins you can buy vitamins D and folic acid from a pharmacy, shop or supermarket.

How about a cuppa?

As a mum-to-be you need to be careful with caffeine.  It increases the risk of your baby growing more slowly in the womb.  It’s a good idea to stick to one cup of tea or coffee a day.  There are also lots of caffeine-free drinks to try.

High in caffeine:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Green tea
  • Almost all colas
  • ‘Energy drinks’
  • Some headache and cold remedies
  • Chocolate (particularly dark chocolate)

Caffeine-free options:

  • Herbal teas such as mint, chamomile and ginger
  • Hot water and lemon

Find out more...

You can find out more by visiting the following websites

NHS logo

NHS pregnancy and baby guide

Information from the NHS on how to eat well during pregnancy and the types of food you should avoid.

Healthy Start logo

Healthy Start

If you are pregnant or have a child under four years old you could get Healthy Start vouchers to help buy some basic foods.

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