Women Healthy diet during pregnancy

Why eating right during pregnancy benefits both you and your unborn child

Your pregnancy diet supports your health and provides the nutrients your unborn child needs to grow and develop.

Pregnant women should generally follow a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients and low in sugar, salt, and saturated fats.

Gaining weight during pregnancy is normal, but doing so at the expense of your health or the health of your unborn child raises the chance of difficulties.

The mother’s pre-pregnancy weight affects how much weight she can acquire safely. There is evidence to support adopting Body Mass Index (BMI) as a benchmark for the acceptable weight gain during pregnancy.

Typically, a well-balanced diet will be sufficient to meet your nutritional demands while pregnant. However, some foods have larger amounts of particular nutrients.

A developing infant needs nutrients like folate, iron, iodine, and vitamin D to promote their health and development and to help avoid certain illnesses. A folic acid supplement should be taken for three months after conception and at least one month before becoming pregnant if you are planning a pregnancy. It has been demonstrated that folic acid supplementation can help prevent neural tube abnormalities.

Please talk to your doctor or midwife if you’re thinking about taking or already taking supplements because dosages can change based on your unique situation.

Do I need to prepare and cook food differently when I’m pregnant?

During pregnancy, it’s crucial to practise food safety and preparation prudence. Food contamination with certain bacteria or viruses is the main cause of food poisoning. Food that smells “wrong” or appears differently than it should make it simpler to suspect contamination. However, the possibility that food is unsafe is not always clear. Food preparation should always include:

  • defrost frozen meat, especially poultry, in the fridge or in the microwave
  • wash your hands before preparing food and eating
  • use different cutting boards for vegetables and meat
  • wash benches, cutting boards and utensils with hot, soapy water
  • change dishcloths frequently — if they smell, this is a sign of contamination
  • cook food thoroughly and don’t eat raw or ‘rare’ meats or fish
  • reheat foods to at least 60° Celsius and until it’s steaming hot

What can I drink during pregnancy?

Water and milk are the safest beverages to consume while pregnant. The current body of research backs up the advice to abstain from alcohol if you are pregnant or trying to conceive. A baby’s growth can be harmed by even minute levels, which could have permanent consequences.

Drinking milk and water when pregnant is seen as safe. Small amounts of juice, soda, low-sugar soft drinks, and mineral water are all acceptable beverages. Caffeine in tiny levels is also regarded to be harmless in tea and coffee. It is deemed safe for a mother and her unborn child to consume up to 200 mgs per day while pregnant and breast-feeding.

As a guide the approximate amounts of caffeine found in food and drinks are:

  • 1 cup of instant coffee – 60mg
  • 1 shot of espresso coffee – 100mg
  • 1 cup of plunger coffee – 80mg
  • 1 cup of tea – 30mg
  • 375ml can of cola – 49mg
  • 250ml can of energy drink – 80mg
  • 100g bar of milk chocolate – 20mg

What foods should I avoid when nursing?

Salt, sugar, and fat content are frequently high in processed foods. They don’t provide the daily requirements for nourishment, despite the fact that they frequently taste delicious and are convenient. According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, you should consume less items high in saturated fat, added salt, sugar, and alcohol while you’re pregnant.

Who can I talk to for more information and advice?

Speak with your maternity care provider. If necessary, they can refer you to a dietician who specialises in pregnancy eating support.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

What portions are advised during pregnancy?

You will need more energy during pregnancy, as well as more servings of the five dietary groups. It’s crucial to realise that, in order to meet the demands of the mother and infant, the’serving size’ remains unchanged while the diversity of foods and serves per day grows.

Food groupServes per day
Vegetables and legumes/beans5
Grains and cereals, mostly wholegrain and/or high fibre cereals8
Lean meat/fish/poultry/eggs/tofu/nuts3.5
Milk/dairy foods3.5

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