Pregnancy week by week



Pregnancy Nutrition


Being pregnant is a wonderfully exciting time in a women’s life. You discover a baby is on the way and then, before you know it, nine months have passed and you’re the proud parents of a newborn girl or boy. In those nine months there’s plenty a mum-to-be can do to help ensure she gives her baby the best start in life. Everyone is aware of the significant role that a healthy, balanced diet plays at any stage of your life. However, there has never been a more important  time than now to look after yourself to ensure that you are feeling at your best to deal with the physical and emotional changes of having a baby-as well as doing all you can to give her the best start in life. Good nutrition through a balanced diet can help support the baby’s growth and development, but can also help to keep you healthy and well throughout the nine months of pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood.

On average you will need to take in an additional 300 calories every day when you are pregnant. This is especially important during the second and third trimester when most of the physical development takes place. Morning sickness, nausea and throwing up can make this a difficult task to achieve some days, though you should still make an effort to eat healthy and take your vitamins. Some of you may be in a habit of fasting on certain occasions or certain days of the week. However, most religions do not expect pregnant or breastfeeding women to fast. Talk to your elders in your family, you will find that the usual rules may not apply in your special case, and that will put your mind at rest.

                                                                Eating healthily  
The food that you eat in pregnancy may affect the way your baby grows and develops. So, if there is ever a time to ensure you’re eating healthily, this is it! It is important to eat a variety of foods during pregnancy to ensure your diet is healthy. Try to make sure your diet includes: 

  • Folic acid: it is important to take daily folic acid supplement of 400microgram as soon as you begin trying to conceive. You should continue taking it for the first 12 months of pregnancy. Folic acid is essential for the healthy development of baby’s brain and spinal cord.

  • You should try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Also, two portions of meat, poultry, fish, and eggs if you are non-vegetarian. An alternative is to eat pulses if you are vegetarian. You must also have a glass of milk, yogurt or cheese.

  • Iron: blood circulation increases during pregnancy as your body supports the development of a growing baby and this may lead to lack of iron. Make sure you take enough iron rich food such as green leafy vegetables, lentils, beans, dried fruits, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals, dates, and meat etc. Add this with vitamin C rich food like oranges that helps your body absorb the iron.

  • Snack sensibly: being pregnant does not mean you can gorge on high fat snacks. Whenever you feel the need for snacking opt for fruits.

  • Omega-3: is important for the development of the baby’s brain and nerves in late pregnancy. Cold water fish such as mackerel, herring, sardines, and salmon are a good source of omega-3.

  • Potatoes, rice, bread, chapatti, pasta to keep energy levels up

  • Lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans and lentils for proteins

  • Dairy foods such as milk, pasteurised cheese and yoghurt-these contain calcium for building bones.

  • It is important that you are consuming enough liquid during your pregnancy-aim to drink plenty (approximately one litre) of non-alcoholic, caffeine free drinks a day

  • Caffeine consumption should be reduced because a high caffeine intake has been linked to an increased risk of low birth weight babies and miscarriage. You should try not to have more than 200mg a day (e.g. two mugs of instant coffee, two mugs of tea, five cans of cola or four bars of plain chocolate)

  • Alcohol should be avoided completely in pregnancy, particularly in the first 12 weeks. However, if you choose to drink, you should not have more than one to two units of alcohol, once or twice a week. This is approximately one glass of wine (around two units) or half a pint of lager (one unit)


  • You also need essential fatty acids in your diet. They help in the development of your baby’s brain, eyes and vision.  Essential fatty acids are found in oils, oily fish (such as salmon, herring, trout and sardines), nuts and seeds.

  • Taking enough fiber in your diet is important during pregnancy. Vegetables, whole grains, cereals, rice and fruits are loaded with the fiber you need to help your body digest your food properly and absorb the maximum amount of nutrients.

                                                     Take precautions  
During pregnancy your defences against stomach bugs and food poisoning can be lower than usual so take the following precautions:
  • Unpasteurised cheese as these may contain the bacteria listeria that can harm the baby.

  • Raw or partially cooked eggs or any foods based on raw eggs(e.g. ice cream or mayonnaise) to avoid salmonella food poisoning.

  • Avoid raw fish, shellfish and raw meat. You should properly cook meat, fish, or chicken. Undercooked meat can contain the salmonella bacteria which can cause food poisoning.

  •  Liver products because they contain a lot of vitamin A. You do need some vitamin A but too much can harm the baby. Supplements containing vitamin A should also be avoided.

  • Deep sea fish such as shark, swordfish, or marlin and you should have no more than two tuna steaks or four cans of tuna a week, as these contain mercury which can harm the baby’s nervous system.

  • To avoid any chance of food poisoning, make sure your food is always well done.

  • Wash your hands after touching raw meat, as raw meat contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning. You must always wash salads and vegetables properly. They may contain listeria or toxoplasmosis parasite, both can affect an unborn baby.

  • It is also a good idea to cut down on high fat and high sugar foods such as cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks to avoid putting too much weight while you are pregnant.

  •  Try to avoid eating out, boil water before drinking or use a water filter.
  •  Milk must always be boiled before drinking. Unpasteurised milk could contain bacteria called listeria, which can harm your baby.

                                                        5 ways to eat well   
·         Enjoy a variety of foods. That way you will get all the nutrients and vitamins you need.
  • Eat at least five portions of vegetables and fruit every day; fresh, frozen, tinned and dried all count. This will give you vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Remember that fruit juice counts as only one serving per day no matter how much you drink.

  • To help prevent constipation and piles, eat high fibre foods. Fruit, vegetables, high fibre breakfast cereals, breads, prunes and figs are a good source of fibre. Try to drink about 6-8 glasses of water, squashes or fruit teas each day.

  • Keep an eye on how much fat you eat. While some fat is essential, eating a lot of saturated fat is not good for you. Good sources are nuts, seeds, avocado, low- fat dairy products and sunflower oil. Try using olive oil, rich in mono- saturated fats in salad dressings and cooking.

  • Say no to salt. We get all the salt we need from everyday foods such as bread and cereals.

                                                    Snack time  
You don’t have to eat a green leafy vegetable every time you feel peckish, but opting for a wise choice will be good for your baby, and for you.
  •  If you feel like eating a biscuit: try an apple, orange, banana, grapes instead

  •  If you feel like having a packet of crisps: try some chunks of cheese and celery

  •  If you feel like eating a cake: try a flapjack (oats are a good source of slow-release energy)

  • If you like some sweets: try a small packet of raisins

  • If you want a fizzy drink: try having fruit juice

                                                    Protein intake 
  Ways to keep up your protein intake if you are vegetarian:
  • Combine beans and pulses with cereal foods-this will provide all the essential amino acids you need

  • Nuts and seeds are excellent sources (but avoid peanuts if you or someone in your family has allergies, to reduce the risk of your child developing a potentially life-threatening allergy to peanuts)

  • Eggs are excellent source of protein and can be a quick and easy meal

  • Milk or soya milk, vegetarian cheeses and yoghurt or soya-based desserts are complete  sources of protein 
                                             No meat? No problem!  
Most vegetarians are wised up when it comes to a balanced diet. Vegetarians do not need extra protein in pregnancy, especially if their diet includes ordinary dairy products and/or eggs. The following ideas would work well as vegetarian snacks: 
  • Scatter some sunflower seeds and nuts on your breakfast cereals

  • Sprinkle grated cheese on top of beans on toast

  • Make a smoothie with milk, yoghurt and fresh fruits whizzed together in a blender

  •  Have hummus with vegetable sticks as lunch time snack.
If you are a vegan and eat no animal products, you need to make sure you get the protein you need from plant foods. Although foods such as lentils, beans, nuts and seeds contain protein, they lack certain amino acids. You need to combine them with starchy foods like bread, cereals and rice to get your complete set of amino acids. So- mix cereals with pulses. Include nuts, seeds, plant milks and textured vegetable proteins and tofu cheese in your diet.

                                                Food for the middle months
Try to eat a varied, healthy diet:
  • Calcium: for strong bones and teeth. Milk, yoghurt, cheese, tinned fish with soft edible bones, white bread, almonds, sesame seeds, and spinach.

  •  Iron: to combat tiredness. All meat and fish are good sources of iron. Non- meat sources are breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread, all types of beans, lentils, green vegetables and dried fruits.

  •  Zinc: Zinc is important for a healthy immune system. Rich sources of zinc are cashew nuts, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seeds, bran, wheat germ bran.

  • Vitamin B 2: for healthy skin and eyes. Yeast extract, almonds, wheat germ, fortified breakfast cereals, eggs, cheese, meat, and mushrooms.

  • Vitamin B12: yeast extract is a good source. Spread on bread and a spoonful to soups and casseroles just before serving. 
                                                          Vitamin A 
  •   Vitamin A 700 micrograms per day is needed when you are pregnant. However, too much of the retinol type of vitamin A can harm your developing baby. Avoid liver, kidneys, cod liver oil and anything containing these products. They contain about 20 times your daily vitamin A needs per serving! Safe levels of retinol are found in eggs, yoghurts, cheese and milk- these are good for you.

  • Good sources of carotene, or pro-vitamin A are carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, mango, apricots, and dried fruits.

  •  Always check with your doctor before taking any supplement. Avoid vitamin A supplements and general multivitamin tablets.  

                                                         Facts about iron 
It’s also important to get enough iron. Your body will require about 30 mg of iron a day which can come from iron rich foods. It’s really important to get enough vitamin C. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of calcium and also helps keep your immune system strong. Foods like oranges, grapefruits, melons, broccoli, brussel sprouts and mustard greens are all an excellent source of vitamin C. You will need about 70 mg of vitamin C per day. If your doctor confirms that you have an iron deficiency, you will be advised iron supplements. Here are ways to keep your iron levels up.

  • The best sources of iron are meat, poultry and fish.

  • Eat green leafy vegetables, fortified cereal lentils, whole grains and nuts.

  •  Drinking a glass of fruit juice containing vitamin C with your meal helps to absorb the iron in your food. Drink less tea; the tannin in tea reduces the amount of iron you can take in.

  • Non- meat sources of iron are beans, lentils, spinach, peas, broccoli, and dried fruit

  • Add dried fruit like apricots, prunes, raisins and figs to your bowl of breakfast cereals.

  • Treat yourself to an occasional bar of chocolate! Dark chocolate is especially high in iron.

    Taking calcium 
Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth-yours and baby’s. It’s important to get 1000-1300 mg of calcium daily which you can get from a supplement or by enjoying dairy products or calcium rich foods every day.
Make sure you are getting enough calcium by eating soya, tofu, almonds, sunflower seeds, leafy green vegetables, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, soya beans, fortified soya milk and products made from this.Try these five ideas to make sure you get enough:
  • A cheese sandwich and a glass of milk: milk and cheese give protein and calcium, essential for healthy bones and teeth. Use wholemeal or soft grain bread for fibre and B vitamins

  • Yogurt smoothies and milkshakes: Whizz up your favourite fruit with some natural yogurt, milk or calcium-enriched soya milk in a blender. Blackcurrants, blackberries and oranges are high in calcium than other fruit. If you don’t have time, just have some fruit, yogurt and honey as a tasty low-fat dessert.



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