Top tips for staying healthy during pregnancy!

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 Pregnant women are given lots of advice, but this can often be based on old or outdated information, making it difficult to know what to trust.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.

Food safety
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.

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Further Reading

  • Katie Fox, Primary School Teacher   Due to coronavirus, playgroups and nurseries are shut and those children due to start school in a few months will be out of routine and away from friends. It is understandable that many parents are worried about getting their children ready for September. Children learn and progress at different rates so there are no set criteria on what they need to be able to know or do when they first start nursery, but if they have had some experience learning at home it could help to make it a smoother transition. Turn taking games, imaginative play, reading, and developing fine and gross motor skills can promote independence, build confidence and help develop simple skills.
  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist Dr Maddy Harris, Clinical Psychologist   In times of crisis – such as the one we are currently living in – parents may find that the normal stresses of everyday life are magnified and additional worries and concerns emerge. Knowing how to cope may prove difficult, but an approach which has widely been discussed in the media and on social media is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).The premise of ACT is that fears and anxieties are seen as real and cannot be ‘challenged’ away, unlike with cognitive behavioural therapy. By concentrating on our actions we are able to work past our fears. This method may help those struggling with this new chaotic routine we find ourselves in. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help with our top tips on how to apply this intervention.
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   As social distancing policies are put in place, and schools and nurseries shut their doors indefinitely, keeping your toddlers entertained and active for hours on end during COVID-19 may seem daunting and at times virtually impossible! Parents and carers have been thrown into a cozy and chaotic ‘new normal’ and may wonder how they can meet the recommended three hours a day of physical activity for under-fives who are walking. But do not panic, the Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help make sure you have plenty of ideas to keep your toddler happy and entertained whilst encouraging physical activity.