Simple, Healthy Foods to Eat During Pregnancy
We give you some healthy eating tips so you can keep your energy levels up and your growing baby in fine form.
- Leafy greens and fruits. These foods naturally contain folate, which is crucial for reducing the risk of neural tube defects in your baby. Generally, it’s also best to take a folate supplement for two months before falling pregnant and for the first three months of your pregnancy
- Prawns and seaweed. Iodine-rich foods such as these are key to helping your baby’s brain and nervous system develop. If seafood’s not your thing, try some fortified breads and cereals.
- Low-fat dairy. Help your baby grow healthy bones and teeth by ingesting plenty of calcium. Low-fat milk, calcium-fortified soy milk, tofu, tempeh or almonds are all good sources of this key nutrient.
- Red meat and lentils. Iron, which helps us make red blood cells, is particularly important during pregnancy because you have a greater blood volume, plus the baby is also developing blood. Combine iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C such as capsicum, spinach and broccoli to enhance your body’s iron absorption.
- Alcohol. Heavy drinking can have serious consequences for unborn babies, but studies have not been able to determine whether low-level drinking is okay. It’s better to be safe than sorry, which is why guidelines recommend pregnant women avoid alcohol completely.
- Coffee. Coffee addicts be warned! There’s some evidence that moderate levels of caffeine intake during pregnancy may be associated with lower birth weights. It’s suggested you cut back to no more than one espresso-style coffee or three instant coffees a day. If you get your caffeine from other sources, stick to no more than four cups of tea, cocoa or hot chocolate a day.
Moderate levels of caffeine intake during pregnancy may be associated with lower birth weights
- Deep-sea fish. Avoid large deep-sea fish, such as shark, marlin, barramundi and swordfish because they can contain mercury, which could put your baby at risk of developmental delays. Two to three serves a week of salmon, tuna and shellfish are healthy and delicious alternatives.
- Soft cheese and pâté. There’s a higher risk with these foods being contaminated with listeria, a bacteria that can cause a nasty sickness called listeriosis, and potentially lead to miscarriage, premature birth and serious infant illness. Also, remember to use good hygiene practices when preparing foods. “Make your own homemade guacamole or healthy hummus instead and use carrots, celery, snow peas or capsicum to dip,” accredited Bupa dietitian Rosalyn D’Angelo suggests.
- Rare meat and raw eggs. Avoid raw foods so you don’t accidentally give yourself salmonella food poisoning, which in rare cases can trigger miscarriage.