Eating Healthy During Pregnancy
Knowing What To Eat During Pregnancy For Healthy Baby

Eating healthy during pregnancy is essential to providing the right nutrient for your baby to develop properly, and for you to be able to cope with the pressures of pregnancy and labour, as well as look after your baby after delivery. We bring you expert guide from our women health doctor.

Eating healthy while pregnant involves knowing what to eat and what to avoid. It also involves keeping an eye on how much one eats.

Contrary to popular believe, you do not need to eat large amount of "food for two" while pregnant.

Not to pay attention to what one eats while pregnant is to put one's health and the health of one's unborn baby in harm's way.

Pregnancy: What To Eat

To keep fit and healthy, and ensure proper development of the body, brain and immunity of their unborn child, all pregnant women should aim to eat a balanced, varied and regular diet all though pregnancy. This will include:

  • At least three servings daily, of starchy foods like rice, potatoes, bread, plantains, breakfast cereals, yam and cassava based meals. This will provide the energy needed by both the mother and unborn child

  • Two servings of protein rich food such as meat, fish, beans and pulses like lentils, and nuts. Eggs are also good, though they must be properly cooked. Proteins are necessary for growth and are very important component of your meal if eating healthy during pregnancy is to be achieved. peanuts are safe to be eaten in pregnancy. It does not cause peanut allergy in an unborn child, neither will it lead to a child developing peanut allergy when born. The initial advise by the UK Foods Standards Agency (FSA) has been changed in December 2008 to refelct this new thinking on the safety of peanuts consumption in pregnancy. Yes. Eating peanuts is eating healthy during pregnancy

  • Three servings of calcium and vitamin rich foods like milk, yogurt, cheese and sardines. Not all kinds of cheese are healthy for consumption in pregnancy. Avoid ripened soft or blue veined cheese like Camembert cheese, Chevre cheese and Brie cheese. This is because of the increased risk of contacting listeriosis, a form of infection from such cheese. Hard chese such as Cheddar, Parmesan, and Red Leicester as well as processed cheese are safe. Also avoid unpasteurized milk

  • Aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. These will include all types of fruits, as well as fruit juice. One glass of fruit juice constitutes a portion and one whole fruit like oranges or apples, avocado pear constitutes on portion of fruit, while for smaller fruits like grapes and strawberry, a handful constitutes a portion. These are important for a strong and healthy immune system as well as for optimal growth of the baby

  • Plenty of Fluids. The importance of drinking a lot of fluids during pregnancy cannot be over emphasized. About 8 to 12 glasses of water a day is advised. This should be made of of clear fluids like water and uncarbonated drinks where possible. Avoid to much tea and coffee. In fact, pregnant women should have no more than 1 to 2 cups of tea or coffee in a day, as more than that (caffeine) could adversely affect the development of your unborn child, could lead to a low birth weight baby and even an abortion or miscarriage

  • Another top tip to eating healthy during pregnancy is to cut down on foods high in fat and sugars like cakes and buscuits and replace such with fruits and salads

  • It is also a great idea to start taking folic acid supplements once you start planing for pregnancy, or as soon as you know you are pregnant, until the end of the 12th week into your pregnancy. A dose of 400 micrograms once a day is advised for most women, and up to 5 milligram once a day, if the mother to be is on medications for epilepsy, or suffers with sickle cell disease, thalassaemia, obese, or has had a child with spinal bifida in the past.

A balanced diet with high dietary fibre and intake of plenty of fluids is key to overcoming constipation in pregnancy, while providing the needed nutrients for mother and baby.

Pregnancy: What Not To Eat

Eating healthy during pregnancy is also about knowing what not to eat or foods to avoid while pregnant. It is very important to avoid these foods because consuming such significantly increases of contacting diseases like listeriosis, salmonellosis, vitamin A toxicity, and mercury toxicity. These will be damaging to your unborn baby. Foods to avoid in pregnancy specifically include:

  • Soft or Ripened Cheese. Soft and ripened cheese can contain high levels of listeria, a germ that causes a flu-like illness called listeriosis, and could lead to abortion and premature delivery, as well as meningitis and other serious blood borne infection in the unborn baby. Chees to avoid include:
    • Goat cheese
    • Camembert cheese
    • Blue-veined cheeses in general including
    • Brie cheese
    • Danish Blue cheese
    • Chevre cheese
    Hard cheeses (such as Cheddar cheese), cottage cheese and processed cheeses are safe

  • Pate. Avoid any type of pate including meat or vegetable pate.

  • Raw Eggs. Avoid raw or improperly cooked eggs when pregnant. This is because they could contain a bacteria called salmonella, which causes food poisoning and even typhoid fever. Cook your eggs very well, until both the white and yolk is solid.

    Also avoid fresh mayonnaise, and raw or partially cooked meats

  • Liver and Liver Products. Avoid eating liver and liver products such as pate and code liver oil supplements. They contain very high levels of vitamin A and taking too much vitamin A could harm your unborm baby

  • Avoid Swordfish, Shark and Marlin Fish. They contain high levels of mercury which could damage the developing brain and nerves of your unborn baby. It is definitely not eating healthy during pregnancy if one's choice of food brings harm to one's baby

  • Alcohol. It is now strongly advised that all pregnant women should avoid alcohol where possible, as it could be damaging to the development of the unborn baby. If you must have alcoholic drink while pregnant, then take no more than 1 to 2 medium glass (200mls glass) of wine or 1 to 2 shots (25ml measure) of whisky or gin or 1 pint of beer in a week.

  • Fatty and Sugary Food. Eating healthy during pregnancy means you must avoid food high in sugar and fat content like dougnuts and fried or oily French fries. These will lead to unhealthy weight gain in pregnancy. Excessive weight gain in pregnancy is a major cause of complications in pregnancy and during delivery in many women today.

Eating healthy during pregnancy need not be a chore, neither should it deprive any mother-to-be the pleasures of life. It is about been a bit more selective and careful with foods eaten.

Eating Healthy During Pregnancy: Have Your Say

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