In this section

Pregnancy


Healthy eating in pregnancy

print page image

Real mum's tip


"After my first baby, Rosie, was born it took a while to lose the weight, so I'm much more aware of what I'm eating this time around."

Mums' Choice member Steph Solomons, 32, mum to Rosie, 3

Pregnancy video


Midwife Chantelle Winstanley explains what foods should be avoided by pregnant women in this video from NHS Choices.

Don't worry, you don't have to give up all the foods you love because you're pregnant, just try to make healthy choices.

Dietician and nutritionist Lyndel Costain's 5 foods for mums-to-be

1. Eggs

These are packed with protein, vitamin B12 (needed for a healthy nervous system and blood) and iodine - a mineral essential for your baby's development. Just make sure they're cooked until the white and yolk are solid to avoid the risk of getting salmonella food poisoning.

Give these a go:

  • For breakfast or a light lunch, serve scrambled eggs on a toasted English muffin with grilled tomatoes. 
  • Whip up a sweet omelette for dessert by mixing a little sugar into the egg mixture, cook as normal, and then fill with sliced banana and a little chocolate spread.

2. Melon

Canteloupe melons are bursting with vitamin C, which helps build bones and blood vessels, and boosts iron absorption. They also contain betacarotene - a nutrient that the body converts into vitamin A that helps create a healthy immune system.

Give these a go:

  • Keep cubes of melon in a sealed container in the fridge, ready for snack attacks - it's great if you feel a bit queasy or are suffering from heartburn. 
  • For an energising juice, peel and cut up a melon and blend until smooth, with half a teaspoon of chopped, fresh ginger, which is known for its stomach-settling benefits.

3. Yogurt

Natural or flavoured yogurt is a great source of calcium - needed to develop healthy teeth and bones in your baby - and protein, which is essential for growth. Try probiotic or bio yogurts - their friendly bacteria can help maintain a healthy digestive system.

Give these a go:

  • Top jacket potatoes with natural yogurt instead of sour cream or butter.
  • Make sandwich fillings and potato salad using a mixture of half yogurt, half mayonnaise.

4. Salmon

This provides omega-3 fats, vital for baby's eyes, nerves and brain. It's also a good source of vitamin D, for building bones and a healthy immune system. While oily fish is nutritious, limit it to two portions a week.

Give these a go:

  • Mix canned salmon with salad and fill a tortilla wrap or pitta bread. 
  • Place a fresh salmon fillet on foil. Add some chopped garlic, a splash of soy sauce and black pepper. Wrap in the foil and roast in a medium-hot oven for eight minutes, or until cooked.

5. Fortified breakfast cereal

Cereals, such as Fruit 'n Fibre, are excellent sources of folic acid - vital for your baby's development - as well as iron, needed for making red blood cells. They're also good for tackling constipation, a common problem in pregnancy, if you opt for one that's high in fibre.

Give these a go:

  • Eat your cereal with a glass of fruit juice or some fresh or canned fruit. The vitamin C in the fruit helps your body absorb more iron from the cereal. 
  • Turn bran flakes into a sweet treat by mixing with melted chocolate, spoon into paper cake cases and chill in the fridge.

Midwife Zita West's top tips for healthy eating in pregnancy

Tempting as it might be to eat for two during pregnancy, it's not necessary, says Zita West. In the first 12 weeks, you need around 1,940 calories a day, with just 200 calories more in the second and third trimesters. Eating little and often will help your blood sugar levels stay stable.

  • Always start your day with a good, healthy breakfast.
  • Try not to cook vegetables for too long - it's better to eat vegetables in the most natural state possible.
  • Steam food instead of boiling if you can and don't fry at high temperatures.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a wide range of foods with (naturally) different colours.
  • Wash fruit and veg well.
  • A healthy diet is the best way to get your vitamins but taking a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement specifically formulated for pregnancy is recommended as well - find out more at NHS Choices.
  • Eat oily fish twice a week for fatty acids, or take a supplement.
  • Do not attempt to diet during pregnancy - you don't need to significantly increase your food intake either.

The NHS website has information on foods you should avoid while you are pregnant such as liver, cheeses including brie, camembert and Danish blue and raw or partially cooked eggs.

Did you know you only need to eat just 200 calories more a day in the second and third trimesters?

Foods you might like while pregnant...