It is important to eat a variety of foods during pregnancy to ensure your diet is healthy. Try to make sure your diet includes:
- At least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or fruit juice formats all count).
- Potatoes, bread and pasta (wholegrain options if possible) to keep energy levels up.
- Lean meat, chicken, white fish, eggs (make sure the eggs are well cooked), beans and lentils for protein.
- Two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish (e.g. mackerel or salmon) - these provide important fatty acids needed for the mental and physical growth of the baby.
- Dairy foods such as milk, some types of cheese (such as cheddar, Parmesan and cottage cheese) and yogurt - these contain calcium for building bones. Use low fat varieties where possible.
- During pregnancy your defences against stomach bugs and food poisoning can be lower than usual so make sure you avoid:
- Cheese that is made with mold, such as Camembert, Brie or goat's cheese, and any soft blue cheese or unpasteurised cheese as these may contain the bacteria listeria that can harm the baby.
- All types of pâté, including vegetable pâté, as this can also contain listeria.
- Eating raw or partially cooked eggs, which don’t carry the Lion, symbol as this could lead to salmonella food poisoning. Eggs stamped with the red Lion symbol are safe to eat as they come from flocks that have been inoculated against salmonella.
- Raw fish, shellfish and raw meat - always make sure food is well cooked
- Liver products because they contain a lot of vitamin A. You do need some vitamin A but too much can harm the baby. Supplements containing vitamin A should also be avoided.
- Deep sea fish such as shark, swordfish or marlin, and you should have no more than two tuna steaks or four cans of tuna a week, as these can contain traces of mercury which can harm the baby's nervous system.
- It is important that you are consuming enough liquid. Aim to drink plenty during your pregnancy, up to three litres a day
- Caffeine consumption should be reduced because a high caffeine intake has been linked to an increased risk of low birth weight babies and miscarriage. You should try not to have more than 200mg a day (e.g. two mugs of instant coffee or two mugs of tea).
- The DoH advises that pregnant women, or women who are planning a pregnancy, should not drink any alcohol. If you drank before you found out that you were pregnant, you should avoid drinking any further alcohol. If you are concerned about how much you drank in those early weeks of pregnancy talk to your GP or midwife.
- To avoid any chance of food poisoning: Always ask for food to be well-done and be especially careful at BBQs
- Wash your hands before preparing food
- Make sure you wash your hands after touching raw meat, as raw meat contains bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
- Wash your hands after handling eggs.
- It is also a good idea to cut down on high fat and high sugar foods such as cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks to avoid putting on too much weight while you are pregnant.