Healthy eating for you and baby
Eating healthy foods helps you stay strong during pregnancy and supports baby’s development in the womb to ensure the best possible start to life. What you eat determines what your baby receives to grow strong and healthy, it protects your long term health and reduces the risks of other health conditions. Just as smoking is harmful to the baby, so too is excessive eating of foods and drinks high in sugar, fat and salt.
Some of the risks of excessive eating and gaining more weight than recommended include:
- having a large baby
- needing a caesarean section
- increased blood pressure in pregnancy with complications (pre-eclampsia)
- diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
Eat a variety of healthy foods every day from each of the four main food groups below:
- vegetables and fruit - eat at least 6 servings per day of vegetables and fruit – at least 4 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit
- breads and cereals (wholegrain is best) - eat at least 6 servings of bread and cereal each day
- milk and milk products (reduced- or low-fat milk is best) - eat at least 3 servings each day of milk or milk products, preferably reduced- or low-fat products
- lean meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, legumes (beans, lentils and peas), nuts and seeds - eat at least 2 servings each day.
Limit your intake of foods and drinks that are high in fat (especially saturated fat), salt and/or sugar.
- If using salt, choose iodised salt.
- Take care when buying, preparing, cooking and storing food so that the food is as safe as possible to eat.
- Some types of food are not recommended when you are pregnant. Have a look at this list for safe/unsafe foods.
- Drink plenty of fluids each day, especially water and reduced- or low-fat milk. (Aim for at least nine cups a day)
- Avoid alcohol during pregnancy.
Even with a healthy diet there are supplements like iodine and vitamin D you should consider taking when you're pregnant. Visit this page to find out about folic acid and iodine tablets and how to get enough vitamin D.
A healthy weight gain is between 11-16kgs for women who were a normal weight before becoming pregnant. If you are overweight before you became pregnant, then less weight gain is desired. If you are underweight before pregnancy then more weight gain is recommended.
- Aim for a healthy weight gain by eating well and being physically active each day (unless advised not to be physically active).