Eating well during pregnancy

Eating well during pregnancy

Pregnant women are often encouraged to ‘eat for two’ while they are expecting. While being pregnant isn’t an invitation for over-indulgence, it does mean that you will need to take in more of certain nutrients to support your growing baby. Paying attention to what you eat and satisfying your appetite with healthy foods such as lean meat, fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breads, cereals and dairy food will ensure that you give your baby the best start in life.


Your baby’s teeth and bones begin to form as early as the sixth week after conception. During pregnancy you need 1100 to 1200mg calcium per day to ensure that your baby gets the calcium needed to build healthy bones and teeth. Dairy foods are the richest sources of calcium, but smaller amounts are found in other foods. Try to limit your salt intake during pregnancy, as this increases the amount of calcium passed through the body in urine.


During pregnancy you need 22 to 36mg of iron a day, at least 2-3 times more than usual, to help increase the red blood cells. Iron intake is especially important in the last two trimesters. If your diet is lacking in iron you may become very tired and/or anaemic.

There are two sorts of iron that can be absorbed from food. Haem iron is more easily absorbed, and is found in foods such as red meats, liver, kidney, pork, chicken and fish. The body will take in about 25% of the iron found in these foods. Note: During pregnancy you should limit the intake of all forms of liver to no more than 100g per week because of the high vitamin A levels found in liver.

Non-haem iron is less easily absorbed by the body, and is found in foods such as eggs, green leafy vegetables, wholegrain cereals, dried beans, peas and lentils. From 1 to 5% of non-haem iron is absorbed by the body.

You can help your body absorb non-haem in food by including foods rich in Vitamin C, such as kiwifruit, citrus fruit, orange juice, tomatoes, capsicums and broccoli as part of your meal.

Folate or Folic Acid

This B vitamin plays a role in synthesising DNA and forming blood cells and new tissues.

During pregnancy it is recommended that you take around 400-800 micrograms of folate a day, particularly during the early part of your pregnancy, where folate needs are higher. Lack of folate has been linked with birth defects such as spina bifida. If you are concerned that you are not getting enough folic acid in your diet, supplements can help. Discuss any supplements with your doctor before taking them.

Folate is found in many foods in their raw state, but it is easily destroyed by heat. Therefore, raw or lightly-cooked fruits and vegetables are a better source of folate than well-cooked food.

Foods rich in folate include:

  • Vegetables, especially spinach, silverbeet, broccoli, beetroot, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, broad beans, cabbage
  • Cooked dried beans eg kidney beans, chick peas
  • Liver, eggs
  • Wholegrain breads and breakfast cereals such as oats, Weet-Bix®, wheatgerm
  • Yeast extract eg Vegemite® and Marmite®


You need at least 6-8 glasses of fluid a day. Use your thirst as a guide. Limit coffee, tea and cola drinks to no more than 3 a day, as they contain caffeine which can affect your baby. Alcohol is not recommended.

LCPs and Pregnancy

During pregnancy certain long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs) are vital for you and your baby. Like minerals and vitamins, the Omega-3 and Omega-6 LCPs are essential for health. They are especially important for your child’s developing brain and eyes. The best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are oily fish (salmon fresh or canned), sardines, mullet, mackerel, trevally, herring and tuna (but see our page on food safety during pregnancy.) White fish and seafood, eggs, lean red meat, liver and kidneys contain smaller amounts. Note: During pregnancy you should limit the intake of all forms of liver to no more than 100g per week because of the high vitamin A levels found in liver.

Plants contain some Omega-3, though the body uses this form less efficiently. Plant sources of Omega-3 include: linseed, canola and soy oils, canola-based spreads, walnuts, wheat germ, soy beans, baked beans and green leafy vegetables.

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in vegetable and seed oils and in wheat germ.

Click on link below to download file:

Guide to Mothers to be.pdf

About Eleanor Harris

Hi, there. It's my blog about nutritional solutions. I post the most helpful content in this topic ❤️ I got master degree 4 years ago at University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. Now i work for Danone as Nutrition Executive

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