Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist
Keeping up-to-date with all of the guidance on healthy eating and lifestyle when you’re expecting can feel overwhelming! Pregnant women are given lots of advice, but this can often be based on old or outdated information, making it difficult to know what to trust. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help, with our practical list of pregnancy top tips.
Eating for two? Not quite!
It’s a common belief that a pregnant woman can expect to ‘eat for two’! However, the Department of Health recommends an extra 200 calories per day only within the final three months (third trimester) of pregnancy. Women in their first and second trimesters should continue to eat the same size meals as before pregnancy, following UK guidance for portion sizes for adults. Examples of food providing 200 calories include; two slices of buttered bread, half a chicken and salad sandwich, or a bowl of wholegrain breakfast cereal with milk.
Balance your diet
A healthy balanced diet during pregnancy is essential not only for the growth and development of your baby, but also your own short and long term health. You can find all the nutrients required for a healthy pregnancy in a balanced diet, except for vitamin D and folate/folic acid which should be supplemented daily. Be sure to include three servings of dairy e.g. milk, yoghurt, cheese for calcium and iodine, at least one vegetable and fruit in both main meals (as well as fruit with breakfast) and meat, fish eggs, nuts or beans/pulses at two to three meals daily to support iron intake.
Healthy weight gain
During pregnancy, gaining either too little or too much weight can be harmful for both your health and the health of your baby. While there is currently no UK evidence-based guidance on pregnancy weight gain, guidance from the USA suggests that those who begin pregnancy with a normal BMI should look to gain 11.5-16kg, those who are overweight, 7-11.5kg and those who are obese, 5-9kg. Those who were underweight before pregnancy could gain 12.5-18kg. You should expect to gain only 0.5-2kg in the first trimester, with the remainder spread out over the second and third trimesters. If you are concerned about your rate of weight gain in pregnancy, speak to your midwife and/or GP.
Although always important, food safety is all the more vital when you’re expecting! Be sure to thoroughly cook meat and fish, wash all soil from fruit and vegetables and avoid any supplements containing vitamin A. Other foods to avoid include liver, liver pâté, unpasteurised dairy products, soft and blue cheeses, swordfish, marlin and shark. If you enjoy tinned tuna, be sure to limit this to four small servings a week!
Found this blog helpful? To read more guidance and pregnancy top tips, visit our Ten Steps for Healthy Pregnancy.