Nutrition while pregnant

First Trimester

Pregnancy diet & nutrition

Eating a healthy, balanced diet when you’re pregnant, and taking a pregnancy supplement regularly, should give you and your baby all the nutrients you need. Unless your healthcare professional advises otherwise, other supplements are not necessary.

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Folic acid in pregnancy

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Folic acid, which is derived from folate, is a B-group vitamin that’s important for the healthy development of the foetus in early pregnancy. If you’re of child-bearing age, are pregnant, or planning on getting pregnant, it’s recommended you take extra folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects (NTD), such as spina bifida. If there is a family history of neural tube defects then you need to discuss further with a health care professional as your needs may be higher.

The folic acid recommendation in New Zealand is to take a supplement containing 800µg of folic acid for 4 weeks prior to conception and for 12 weeks after conception.

Find out more at: Food Standards ANZ and Ministry of Health.

Iodine in pregnancy

Your thyroid uses iodine to produce hormones that are important for the normal development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. So it’s very important that you consume enough iodine when you’re pregnant.

150µg is recommended daily via a supplement when pregnant or breast feeding

Find out more at: NHMRC Nutrient Reference Values for ANZ Pdf (1)

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Nausea and vomiting

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Nausea and vomiting, or ‘morning sickness’, affects up to 2/3 of pregnant women. Eating regular small meals, avoiding fatty and spicy foods, and eating small snacks such as crackers and fruit may help.

Find out more at: Ministry of Health.

Calcium in pregnancy

Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth. When you’re pregnant, your calcium needs don’t actually increase: 1,000mg daily (for women aged 19–50) and 1,300mg daily (for adolescents or women over 51). Dairy foods (such as milk, cheese and yoghurt) and calcium-fortified soymilk are excellent dietary sources of calcium.

1000mg per day

Find out more at: Better Health and NIAMS.

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Omega 3 DHA fatty acids in pregnancy

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Long chain omega-3 fatty acids are very important for your baby's neurological development. If you’re pregnant or breast feeding, it’s recommended you consume 200mg of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA daily.

200mg per day

Find out more at: NSW Food Authority and American Society of Nutrition.

Mercury in fish

Although it’s important to continue to eat fish when you’re pregnant, you need to be careful about which fish you choose. Some types of fish contain mercury levels that can harm your baby’s developing nervous system. These include Lake Trout from geothermal regions, Southern Bluefin Tuna and Cardinal Fish. Instead opt for fish such as Kahawai, Tarakihi, Hoki and Cod.

Find out more at: Ministry of Primary Industries.

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Iron requirements in pregnancy

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Increasing your intake of iron - either through your diet or by taking a supplement - can help build your baby's iron stores. Iron helps support their blood formation, which helps transport oxygen around their body.

Foods to avoid in pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, there are some foods that you are recommended to avoid. This is usually because the food has a higher risk of containing bacteria such as listeria or salmonella.

Foods to avoid: Unpasteurised milk or any foods made from unpasteurised milk, liver and patés, raw seafood, raw meats, raw or runny eggs, cold cooked chicken, processed meats, soft cheeses, pre-packed salads and alcohol.

Foods to limit: Shark, Swordfish, Lake Trout from geothermal regions, Southern Bluefin Tuna and Cardinal Fish. You should also limit your caffeine intake.

Find out more at: Ministry of Primary Industries

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Should nuts be avoided during pregnancy?

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If you’re pregnant or breast feeding, you don’t need to avoid consuming nuts for fear of causing an allergic reaction in your baby. You only need to avoid nuts if you are allergic to them.

Find out more at: Ministry of Health

Second Trimester

The myth of 'eating for two'

There’s no need to eat more food during the first trimester of pregnancy. For the first trimester, your energy intake should stay about the same as it was before you were pregnant. During the second and third trimesters, your energy requirements will probably increase by about 1,400kJ - 1,900kJ a day. Increasing your diet with small snacks such as an additional piece of fruit, a sandwich or a tub of yoghurt will give you the extra energy you need.

1,400kJ - 1,900kJ extra a day

Find out more at: NHMRC Nutrient Reference Values for ANZ.

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Third Trimester

Bowel movements during pregnancy

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Irregular bowel movements can be quite common during pregnancy. To help, it's recommended you

    • Eat a high fibre diet with plenty of wholegrain cereals, fruit, vegetables, and legumes
    • Drink sufficient water
    • Increase your physical activity.

Find out more at: Ministry of Health Pdf (1)

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