Choosing to eat nutritious foods during pregnancy is important to your welfare and that of your baby, so we’ve put together 6 easy-to-follow recommendations to help you on your way.
The ideal diet for keeping you and your baby healthy changes over the course of pregnancy, but sticking to these recommendations is a simple way to ensure you’re keeping a healthy pregnancy diet and cutting out those harmful foods.
1. Increase your intake of certain minerals and vitamins
These include folic acid and vitamin D, as these are necessary for the development of the foetus and your health.
This is particularly important in your first trimester, which is the most critical time in your pregnancy.
You need vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorous, which help build your baby’s bones and teeth. A deficiency of the vitamin during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities.
Good pregnancy foods that are high in vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, canned tuna fish in oil, and products fortified with vitamin D.
Folic acid is a man-made form of folate, a B vitamin that occurs naturally in food. It’s unlikely that you’ll get enough folate to protect your baby just from the food you eat, which is why folic acid supplements are recommended.
However, folate-rich foods that can also help you to achieve a healthy pregnancy include whole grain bread, beans, pulses, and green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.
2. Keep your consumption of vitamin A down
An excessive build-up of vitamin A can be harmful to your baby. Foods that contain high levels of vitamin A include liver and fish liver oils.
3. Your consumption of certain types of fish should be monitored or avoided.
When it comes to fish, it’s difficult to know what to eat when pregnant.
It’s best to avoid shark, swordfish and marlin completely as they can contain high levels of mercury, which can affect your baby’s neural development. Fresh tuna can also contain high levels of mercury, but rather than cutting tuna out of your diet completely, limit yourself to two tinned tuna steaks per week.
The following fish can contain low levels of pollutants that accumulate in their bodies over time, so you should have no more than two portions of them per week: oily fish, such as salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel, sardines, and trout; some white fish, such as sea bass, sea bream, turbot, halibut, and rock salmon; and brown crab meat.
4. Avoid soft unpasteurised rind cheeses and pâté
These can contain the bacteria listeria. It’s unlikely for listeriosis to seriously affect your health, but the infection can have grave consequences for your developing baby.
5. Abstain from alcohol
Studies have shown that alcohol consumption in pregnancy could cause damage to the unborn child.
In addition to considering what to eat when pregnant, it’s important to be wary of what you consume after having had your baby. Even after giving birth, when breast feeding, it’s best to limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, as small amounts of what you consume can be present in your breast milk and may be passed to your baby.
6. Avoid raw or undercooked eggs
They can carry harmful organisms, such as E.Coli and Salmonella, which can lead to gastrointestinal infection in pregnant women. Infection can be passed through the placenta to the baby.
This can be life threatening for your baby, so as a precaution it’s best to avoid eggs in their raw form, including in sauces, batter and egg nog.
Well cooked eggs, however, can be safely eaten, but make sure you check the best before date and keep them well refrigerated.
Eggs impart several key nutrients in the form of protein, fats, minerals (such as zinc and selenium) and vitamins A, D and some B, which make them a healthy food during pregnancy.
What are your best nutrition tips for what to eat when pregnant?