What to eat when pregnant

When you’re expecting, your health and nutrition is so important for you and your baby. So during this time it’s about quality rather than quantity - so while you don’t need to ‘eat for two’ try to make sure you consume a wide variety of nutrition foods so that you get the extra nutrients you both need. Try to have three regular meals per day, plus two to three light snacks. For more advice on what to eat, talk to a dietitian or other healthcare professional.

Nutrition by Trimester

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This is a guide to what you should eat, in terms of number of serves per day, during your pregnancy (based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines):

  • Vegetables (including legumes and beans)

    5 serves (1 serve is ½ cup cooked veg or 1 cup fresh salad)

    Vegetables (including legumes and beans)

  • Fruit

    2 serves (1 serve is 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear, or alternatively 2 small pieces of stone fruit.)


  • Grains (aim for mostly wholegrain and/or high fibre cereals)

    8 ½ serves (1 serve is 1 slice of bread, ½ medium roll, ½ cup of rice, or 2/3 cup wheat cereal flakes.)

    Grains (aim for mostly wholegrain and/or high fibre cereals)

  • Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans:

    3 ½ serves (1 serve is 65g cooked lean meat, or 80g cooked poultry, 2 large eggs or 30g nuts/seeds/peanut butter.)

    Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu nuts and seeds,and legumes/beans:

  • Milk, yoghurt and cheese

    2 ½ serves. (1 serve is 250ml milk or calcium-enriched soy or rice milk, 2 slices of cheese or ¾ cup yoghurt.)

    Milk, yoghurt and cheese

  • Unsaturated spreads and oils

    Recommended intake of unsaturated spreads/oils or nuts and seeds is 14-20g for pregnant women. Considering only 2 teaspoons of oil/margarine contributes 10g, and 15 almonds contribute 15g, it may be worth measuring and taking note of portions.

    Unsaturated spreads and oils

  • Water

    9 glasses or 2.25 litres each day is recommended. All sources of fluid contribute towards this recommendation, including tea and coffee, however water is best.


  • Supplements

    It is recommended that from at least 4 weeks preconception and during the first 3 months of pregnancy women take a daily folic acid supplement that contains at least 400ug of folic acid in addition to consuming foods rich in folate. It is also recommended that throughout pregnancy women supplement with iodine (150ug/day). Remember to ask your doctor about pregnancy supplements to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you and your baby needs.


Foods to avoid when pregnant

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to avoid these foods because they may contain harmful bacteria such as listeria or salmonella. If you’re unsure, ask a dietitian or other healthcare professional.

  • Processed meats

    Stay away from slicked turkey, ham, roast beef, etc.

    Processed meats

  • Raw meat and paté

    Say no to steak tartare and duck paté for the moment.

    Raw meat and paté

  • Stuffing

    Avoid the temptation of stuffing from chicken or poultry.


  • Raw seafood

    Keep away from chilled prawns, sushi, etc.

    Raw seafood

  • Soft and semi-soft cheese

    This includes brie, camembert, ricotta, feta, blue, cream cheese, etc.

    Soft and semi-soft cheese

  • Soft serve or fried ice cream

    These are not safe dessert options during this time.

    Soft serve or fried ice cream

  • Unpasturised dairy products

    Raw milk is a no-no.

    Unpasturised dairy products

  • Coffee, tea and other caffeine

    Australian guidelines recommend you limit your intake to less than 300 mg per day. That’s about three coffees a day, or six cups of tea.

    Coffee, tea and other caffeine

  • Raw eggs in food

    Don’t eat mayonnaise, aioli, mousse, cake batter or pancake batter.

    Raw eggs in food

  • Pre-packaged salads

    Avoid salads from salad bars and smorgasbords, etc. and make sure you wash any salad ingredients well just before making and eating.

    Pre-packaged salads

  • Sprouts

    Keep away from alfalfa sprouts, broccoli sprouts, onion sprouts, sunflower sprouts, clover sprouts, radish sprouts, snow pea sprouts, mung beans and soybean sprouts.


Snacking tips

When you are pregnant, you may find your appetite increases. It is recommended to eat little and often, especially if you need to manage nausea during this time. Some practical tips to increase your intake of nutrients and fluids include:

  • Bring your own

    If you are working pack a chilled lunchbox with healthy options like a sandwich, carrot sticks and a piece of fruit.

  • Plan ahead for snacks

    Have food handy so you can avoid processed ‘fast food’ when hunger pangs hit and make your snacks healthy snacks instead.

  • Drink lots of fluids

    Be aware of your intake of fluids and drink lots of water during the day. Keep a water bottle handy to help track your intake

Pregnancy and medication

Always ask your doctor before taking medicines during pregnancy. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicine.

  • Alcohol

    It is recommended that pregnant women do not drink at all, because any alcohol they drink will quickly reach their babies through the placenta. A baby’s liver is not fully developed and is not able to break down alcohol.

  • Smoking

    The best approach is to completely avoid smoking whilst pregnant. Smoking when pregnant exposes babies to harmful chemicals including tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. This also causes the mother’s blood vessels to constrict, supplying less oxygen and nutrients to baby.

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