Pregnancy & Food
When you’re pregnant, maintaining a varied diet is important to make sure your baby is getting all the nutrients they need.
Three main meals and two or three healthy snacks are recommended per day, although this can be tricky if you're going through pregnancy sickness. Some women find it beneficial to eat smaller meals more frequently to keep their appetite stable.
Just try to ensure you’re getting plenty of protein (meat, nuts, beans), healthy fats (dairy products, nuts again) and carbohydrates (fruit and veg), as well as ensuring you’re intaking enough vitamins and minerals and keeping yourself hydrated.
Should I Be 'Eating for Two' While Pregnant?
The truth is that 'eating for two' is a bit of a myth. During the first six months of pregnancy the energy requirements of mums-to-be do not increase because your body adapts and becomes much more efficient at utilising the energy and nutrients from the food you eat.
When it comes to the last three months of pregnancy however, you may need an extra 200 calories or so a day to accommodate your growing baby.
It's normal for your appetite to fluctuate and your weight gradually increase during pregnancy, so it's important to listen to your body. But it's also important not to eat too much, and on the flip side, don’t attempt to diet or lose weight during your pregnancy. Too much weight gain or loss can affect the health of you and your baby.
What Foods Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, you should avoid mould-ripened cheese (e.g. brie or camembert) or blue veined cheeses (e.g. stilton). This is because these cheeses may contain bacteria called listeria which may be harmful to your baby. Other hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan or mozzarella are fine to eat and contain beneficial calcium.
Foods like eggs, meats and any ready meals need to be cooked thoroughly and warm all the way through. Make sure eggs are hard boiled and avoid food products that contain raw eggs such as mayonnaise.
Foods like oysters pose a risk of food poisoning.
Shark, swordfish, or marlin
As well as they above, you should limit your intake of tuna (and other oily fish) to no more than four medium sized cans or two fresh tuna steaks a week. This is because they contain unsafe levels of mercury which may be harmful to your baby’s nervous system.
Liver and liver products like pâté
Liver sausage and pâtés – even veggie pâté – could contain listeria and are naturally high in vitamin A which can be toxic in high doses.
What Foods Should You Limit During Pregnancy?
Foods that're high in fat, sugar, and salt
We all like a treat every now and then, but these foods provide only “empty calories” to your body and your baby, so try and keep them to a minimum during pregnancy.
Pregnancy & Drinks
While you're pregnant, it's really important to stay hydrated! Try and aim to drink around seven to ten glasses of water per day, possibly more if you’re active or if the weather is very warm. You can also fill your boots with orange juice, which is a super tasty source of potassium and vitamin C, among other things.
What Drinks Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?
If you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.
A tasty and healthy alternative to drinking alcohol while you’re pregnant is non-alcoholic ginger beer. As well as being super scrumptious, ginger is also perfect for fighting morning sickness and nausea – win, win.
Unpasteurised goat’s, sheep, and cow’s milk
In other words: raw, right from the teat, milk. Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria that can cause listeria, among other dangerous diseases. And it’s not just cow's milk to be mindful of – raw milk from goats, sheep or any other animal, can carry harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
When milk is pasteurized, it kills the harmful bacteria by heating the milk – this doesn’t decrease the nutritional value either, so you can still get that sweet calcium and protein from your morning bowl of cereal or glass of milk.
What Drinks Should You Limit During Pregnancy?
Consuming large amounts of caffeine while you’re pregnant can affect the growth and development of your unborn baby and can increase the risks of miscarriage.
A good rule is to just limit your caffeine intake and have no more than 200mg per day – that's approximately two cups of instant coffee or four cups of tea.
To be safe, don’t drink more than four cups of herbal tea a day. This is because there's little evidence or data around herbs and their affects on pregnancy and baby's development. You should opt for a variety of different teas so you’re not having too much of any one kind and avoid medicinal or therapeutic doses of herbs all together.
Try to avoid consuming too many sugary drinks during pregnancy as flavour preferences can be developed in the womb and your baby could be born with a bit of a sweet tooth.