Healthy Eating For You And Your Baby

During your pregnancy you need more nutrients, but not necessarily more calories for you and your baby. This means focusing on the variety and quality of foods rather than the amount of food.

Try to consume each day
1 Serving =
Breads & cereals
(including rice, pasta, noodles)
4-6 servings
(preferably wholegrain or wholemeal)
2 slices of bread
1 medium bread roll
1 1/3 cups of breakfast cereal
1 cup cooked rice, pasta or noodles
Vegetables & legumes
5-6 servings
½ cup cooked vegetables
1 cup of salad vegetables
½ cup cooked dried beans, peas lentils or canned beans
1 small potato
4 servings
1 medium apple
2 small pieces of fresh fruit (apricots, plums, kiwi fruit)
½ cup of fruit juice
1 cup of canned fruit (no added sugar)
(meat, poultry, cooked eggs, nuts)
1 ½ servings
65-100g cooked meat or chicken
80-120g fish fillet
½ cup peanuts or almonds
2 small eggs
(milk, yoghurt, hard cheese)
2 servings
250 ml of calcium fortified soy beverages
40g (2 slices) of cheese
200g of yoghurt

During pregnancy weight gain is normal and varies between women. It is normal to gain 12-14kg during your pregnancy. It is important not to diet or skip meals whilst you are pregnant as your baby grows every day and needs you to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

Vitamins, nutrients and minerals

During pregnancy your body needs extra vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help your baby develop. The best way of getting these vitamins is through your diet.


Folate is important for your baby’s development during early pregnancy because it helps prevent birth abnormalities like spina-bifida.

It is important to eat foods that have added folic acid or are naturally rich in folate. Foods with folic acid added to them (fortified) include some breakfast cereals, breads and fruit juices.

Foods naturally rich in folate include green leafy vegetables such as salad greens, spinach, broccoli, nuts, orange juice, chick peas and some fruits and dried beans and peas.


Pregnancy increases your need for iron. Your baby draws enough iron from you to last it through the first five to six months after birth so it is vital that you consume more iron while pregnant. The recommended daily intake of iron during pregnancy is 22mg per day.

Good sources of iron include:
  • Lean beef
  • Duck (with skin removed)
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and spinach
  • Cooked legumes such as chick peas, lentils, kidney and lima beans

Eating foods high in vitamin C will also help you to absorb iron. Try drinking a glass of orange juice when eating green vegetables or lean beef.


Calcium is essential to keep bones healthy and strong. During the third trimester of pregnancy, your baby needs a large amount of calcium as they start to develop and strengthen their bones.

If you are not getting enough calcium in your diet, the calcium needed by your baby, will be drawn from your own bones. To prevent this happening and the risk of osteoporosis later in life make sure you are getting enough calcium in your diet for both of you.

The recommended daily intake of calcium during pregnancy is 840mg per day. Dairy foods such as milk, hard cheese, yoghurt and calcium fortified soy milk are excellent sources of calcium.

Omega 3

Omega 3 is important for the development of the central nervous system, brain growth and eye development in your baby before and after he or she is born.

Good Omega 3 foods include oily fish like salmon, trout, herring, anchovies and sardines. Omega 3 is also found in chicken, eggs, canned tuna and flaxseed oil.

What to avoid

When you are pregnant, hormonal changes in your body lower your immune system, which can make it harder to fight off illness and infections. Preventing foodborne illness and protecting yourself from other food risks during pregnancy is extremely important.

Safety tips to prevent foodbourne illness:

  • Keep cold food cold and in the fridge and hot food steaming hot before serving.
  • Separate raw and cooked food and don’t use the same utensils, especially cutting boards and knives, for both.
  • Defrost frozen food in the fridge or microwave. Never on the bench or in the sink.
  • Keep utensils and your kitchen clean
  • Cook food thoroughly. Cook poultry and minced meats until well done, right through to the centre. No pink should be left visible and all juices should be clear.
  • The best way to prevent the spread of bacteria is to always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before and after handling food.


Listeria is a type of bacteria found in some foods, which causes a serious infection called listeriosis. It can take up to six weeks for the flu-like symptoms to occur and if transmitted to your unborn baby can lead to miscarriage, infection of your newborn and stillbirth. The best way to avoid this is through hygienic preparation, storing and handling food.

Ideally, you should eat only freshly cooked food and well-washed, (freshly prepared) fruit and vegetables. Leftovers can be eaten if they are refrigerated promptly and kept no longer than a day.

These mostly chilled, ready to eat foods should be avoided altogether:
  • Soft and semi-soft cheese
  • Cold cooked chicken
  • Cold processed meats
  • Prepared salads
  • Raw seafood
  • Soft serve ice-cream
  • Unpasteurised dairy products
  • Pate


Salmonella can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, fever and headache. Pregnant women are not at an increased risk of contracting salmonellosis, but in rare cases it may trigger miscarriage.

So it is advisable to avoid foods that contain raw egg and always cook meat, chicken and eggs thoroughly.

Other food risks


Toxoplasmosis while uncommon in pregnant women can occur if you eat undercooked meats, or unwashed fruit and vegetables (particularly from gardens with household cats). Most commonly, however, infection is caused by touching cat and dog faeces when cleaning the kitty litter tray or contaminated soil in the garden. It is particularly important to avoid toxoplasmosis during pregnancy because it can lead to brain damage or blindness in your unborn child.