Foods To Enjoy
- Try and swap unhealthy foods for healthier options
- Fruit and vegetables are good sources of minerals and fibre
- Potatoes, rice and bread are a good source of energy
- Cheese, milk and yoghurt are a good source of calcium
- Well cooked meat and fish are good sources of protein
Always thoroughly wash raw vegetables, fruit and salad before eating.
Some women develop diabetes in pregnancy because their body doesn’t produce enough insulin to meet the extra needs of their baby. A special diet will need to be adopted to maintain healthy glucose levels. More information can be found on our Diabetes page.
Foods To Avoid
- Mould ripened cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert and blue veined cheeses such as Roquefort
- Raw or undercooked non lion marked eggs
- Unpasteurised milk, including goats’ cheese
- Raw or undercooked meat including pâtés and liver
- Shark, sword fish, marlin and raw shellfish
- Vitamin A supplements
- Tuna should be limited to 4 tins or 2 fresh steaks per week
- Caffeine should be limited to 2 cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea per day
Try to do 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity, such as walking, every day, right up until the baby is born. Build up to daily exercise if you’re not used to it. If you are overweight, and don’t put on more weight in pregnancy, there are no reasons to believe that just because you aren’t gaining weight, your baby isn’t either.
Vitamin B9 (also known as folic acid)
Folic Acid can help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and other conditions including cleft palate or cleft lip. It needs to be taken daily for the first three months of pregnancy. Your GP will prescribe you with a daily dose of 400 mcg from when you start trying to conceive. Don’t panic if you didn’t start taking it before you found out you were pregnant as it will still benefit your baby from now until the first three months of pregnancy. Women who are at high risk of developing complications need to take a higher dose of 5 milligrams. Extra forms of folic acid can be found in foods such as peas, broccoli, oranges and chickpeas.
Vitamin C helps to maintain healthy tissue in the body. You can find vitamin C in lots of foods including peppers, broccoli, oranges and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium which helps your baby’s bones and teeth grow strong. You can absorb vitamin D through sunlight. However, UK health departments recommend that all pregnant women take a daily supplement of 10 micrograms.
Iron helps your red blood cells to store and carry oxygen around the body. Almost a quarter of pregnant women develop iron-deficiency anaemia due to a lack of iron. The best source of iron is from eating foods such as red meat, fish and poultry.
Smoking in pregnancy can seriously harm your baby’s health.
Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals. When you smoke, the chemicals stop oxygen and essential nutrients from reaching your unborn baby. This affects your baby’s heart, making it work harder, your baby’s growth rate and the development of your baby’s brain. Low birth weight in babies is also linked to problems that develop as an adult, such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Smoking can cause your baby to be born prematurely, be born underweight, be more receptive to infections and other health conditions such as asthma, and have an increased risk of cot death. Smoking can also cause morning sickness, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, birth complications and even stillbirth.
Second-hand (or passive) smoke is also dangerous, so try to keep away from smoky places and smokers. Ask smokers in the family to support you and your baby by smoking outside and not near you. While e-cigarettes can help smokers quit, the vapour they produce contains metals and toxins and the risks of e-cigarettes to unborn babies are still not understood.
You can stop smoking at any time throughout your pregnancy. There are many services providing support:
- NHS Smokefree
- NHS Choices
- NHS Pregnancy and Smoking Helpline: 0800 169 9 169
- Your GP, midwife and health visitor
Body Mass Index
If you have a BMI of over 30, it is recommended to lose weight before you become pregnant. If you are already pregnant, you can still discuss a suitable exercise plan and diet with your GP. If you have a BMI below 18, it is best to try and gain some weight consistently throughout your pregnancy. Your GP or midwife can put together a nutritional plan for you.
The Department of Health recommend avoiding alcohol during pregnancy.
Alcohol passes to your unborn baby through your placenta. Alcohol in the baby’s blood can interfere with the oxygen and nutrient supply. The baby’s brain and other organs can be affected, causing long term problems with health and development. Drinking alcohol at critical times in the baby’s development, heavy binge drinking and frequent drinking increase the likelihood that the baby will be affected.
The safest way to ensure your baby is not damaged by alcohol is to not drink while you are pregnant. If you are finding it hard to stop drinking, ask your midwife or GP for special support or phone Drinkline on 0300 123 1110.
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