Top Pregnancy Nutrition Tips

  • Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry and avoid processed meats such as sausages and breaded chicken as they are generally high in salt and low in iron.
  • Include fish in the weekly diet and try to consume 1-2 portions of oily fish (salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines) per week. Fish is a valuable protein source and oily fish is rich in vitamin D and essential fatty acids including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
  • Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables every day to provide a variety of vitamin, minerals, and fibre. Green leafy vegetables are particularly good sources of folate and iron. Avoid overcooking vegetables as this can destroy heat labile nutrients such as vitamin C. Frozen vegetables and frozen fruit are just as nutritious as fresh varieties. (Please note: The FSAI advises that all imported frozen berries should be boiled for one minute before consumption. Freezing preserves viruses such as norovirus and hepatitis A. Boiling for one minute will destroy viruses, if present.)
  • Choose wholegrain varieties of breads, pasta, rice, and breakfast cereals. They provide more fibre and give a slow release of energy throughout the day.
  • Never skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast can result in over eating at the next meal and/or snacking on less nutritious foods before lunch.
  • Include 3 portions of dairy in the daily diet. Dairy is important for providing calcium for bone health. Choose low fat varieties of dairy (e.g. low fat yoghurt, low fat cheese, and low fat milk) as they contain less fat and calories but the same amount of calcium. Many milks are now fortified with vitamin D which is important for absorption of calcium.
  • Aim to have 8-12 glasses (2-3 litres) of water daily to keep hydrated and also to avoid constipation.
  • Limit caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day (see table below).
  • If experiencing heartburn or morning sickness drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, between meals rather than with meals, and eat smaller meals more frequently.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption and smoking completely as these can have a negative effect on pregnancy outcomes and offspring health.
  • Take a daily supplement containing 400µg of folic acid and a daily supplement containing 5µg of vitamin D. Having a healthy balanced diet will provide the rest of the remaining nutrients required daily during pregnancy.
  • Take gentle exercise daily such as walking, swimming, yoga or pilates. If particularly active before pregnancy, keep up your usual exercise regime until you feel comfortable. If relatively inactive before pregnancy, don’t suddenly take up high intensity sporting activities – consult your healthcare professional regarding the best exercise regime for you.

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