Nutrition During Pregnancy
Having a balanced diet during pregnancy is important for the health of you and your baby. One of the most common misconceptions is that you are “eating for two”. You may think that you need extra food whilst pregnant, but in reality your body is more efficient at making use of the energy you receive from the food you eat. The only time you will start to need extra calories is from the seventh month of your pregnancy until birth, when you only need an extra 200 calories a day.
Having a healthy eating plan during pregnancy, for example eating little and often, will ensure that you and your little one are as healthy as possible and your baby gets the best start in life. Having such a plan can also help when you are experiencing morning sickness or heartburn.
What can you eat when you’re pregnant?
- Make sure you focus on having at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- Foods rich in protein such as fish, poultry, soya and pulses
- Plenty of carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals).
- Dairy products such as milk.
There are also a number of foods you can’t eat whilst you are pregnant and should try to avoid.
- Soft cheese with a mouldy rind, such as Brie and Camembert, blue cheese, or any kind of paté, including vegetable paté (as these can contain the dangerous bacteria listeria)
- More than two portions of oily fish (e.g. fresh tuna, sardines, mackerel, trout) a week (these contain high levels of mercury, which can damage your baby’s developing nervous system)
- Marlin, shark or swordfish, or more than four cans of tuna per week (these also contain high levels of mercury)
- Liver or liver products (these contain large amounts of Vitamin A, which can be harmful to your unborn baby)
- Raw shellfish, to avoid the risk of food poisoning
- Raw or cured meat, make sure that the meat you eat is cooked through.
- Anything that may contain raw egg – check when you’re eating food such as ice cream, mayonnaise or mousses to see if it is made with raw eggs.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy
Too much alcohol can seriously harm your baby as alcohol passes into the bloodstream of your unborn baby through the placenta. “The Department of Health recommends that if you're pregnant you should avoid alcohol altogether. And if you do want to have a drink, it recommends that you stick to one or two units of alcohol (equivalent to one small glass of wine) once or twice a week to minimise the risk to your baby.”
Drinking Caffeine during pregnancy
High caffeine intake can result in a low birth weight which can cause further health problems in later life and too much caffeine can cause miscarriages. Remember caffeine isn’t just in coffee, it is also found naturally in many other food and drinks. The NHS guidance is to have no more than 200mg a day, so remember to keep a check on what you’re consuming.
As a guide:
- A can of cola contains roughly 40mg of caffeine
- 50g bar of dark chocolate around 50mg
- Milk chocolate contains about half as much caffeine as dark chocolate.
Cravings are due to hormonal changes within your body, and the cravings could take any form from gherkins to coal. Cravings are a way of your body telling you what your body needs. For example, if mum is craving a burger and a plate of chips it may be her body needs more protein, sodium, or potassium.
The most popular type of cravings are sweet foods, then salty foods and 3rd spicy foods.
Whatever your craving try and balance it out in order to maintain a healthy and balanced diet to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.