Eating well during pregnancy gives your baby a great start in life. But, are you really eating for two? In a word, no!
In fact pregnant women don’t need to eat much more in addition to their normal eating.
This is because the metabolic rate slows down, and also because you naturally become less active.
However, the quality of what you eat will have a direct effect, so it’s important to eat a wide variety of nutrient loaded foods.
Eating three regular meals each day, with snacks between, will help to ensure you and your baby are meeting all of your requirements.
Quite surprisingly, the need for most nutrients doesn’t increase either during pregnancy, and are similar to that of the population as a whole.
- Fruit and vegetables – aim to eat five or more portions per day, these foods will provide you with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre.
- Bread, other cereals and potatoes – should make up the main part of each meal, and will provide you with energy.
- Meat, fish and alternatives – aim for two portions each day, these foods will provide you with protein and iron.
- Milk and dairy foods – aim for 3 portions each day, these foods are an important source of calcium.
- Foods containing fat and sugar – foods from this food group should be kept to a minimum.
Additional daily requirements for pregnancy:
- Calories +200 kcal (for last three months only)
- Protein +6g
- Vitamin A +100Âµg
- Vitamin B1 +0.1mg (for last three months only)
- Vitamin B2 +0.3mg
- Vitamin C +10mg
- Vitamin D +10Âµg
- Folate +400Âµg (preconception, and until 12th week of pregnancy)
NB To ensure you are getting enough folic acid you should consider taking a 400µg folic acid supplement. You can also boost your intake by eating fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals and some breads, or green vegetables and pulses.
The Food Standards Agency have advised that during pregnancy women should limit the amount of caffeine they consume to no more than 200mg per day (around 2 cups of coffee).
High levels of caffeine can result in babies having a low birth weight, or it can even lead to a miscarriage.
So, how much caffeine is contained in these foods?
- 1 mug of instant coffee contains 100mg caffeine
- 1 cup of brewed coffee contains 100mg caffeine
- 1 can of ‘energy’ drink contains up to 80mg caffeine
- 1 cup of instant coffee contains 75mg caffeine
- 1 cup of tea contains 50mg caffeine
- 1 chocolate bar (50g) contains up to 50mg caffeine
- 1 can of cola contains up to 40mg caffeine
A note on alcohol
Since 1981 the USA advise avoiding all alcohol during pregnancy.
In the UK the Medical Council on Alcohol advises avoidance in the first trimester (3 months) at least. Research links alcohol to fetal alcohol syndrome, low birth weight, increase in pre-term birth, disturbance to foetal growth, and later cognitive and behavioral problems in children.
This list is merely scratching the surface, as there are many many other terrible affects linked to drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
How much weight can you expect to gain?
It really does vary from person to person, however based on your pre-pregnancy weight, the list below provides a guideline:
- Underweight: gain 12.5kg – 18kg
- Normal: gain 11.5kg -16kg
- Overweight: gain 7kg – 11.5kg
- Very overweight: gain at least 7kg
For more information check out Maternal and Infant Nutrition.
Do you have any tips for good nutrition during pregnancy?
Post updated 27th March 2009