Four Common Food and Eating Questions Asked When You Find Out You’re Pregnant

Four Common Food and Eating Questions Asked When You Find Out You’re Pregnant

If you are reading this since finding out about your pregnancy first of all congratulations. We know pregnancy is both an exciting time but also full of lots of changes. You may have questions about how to have a healthy pregnancy. Below we have answered four of the most common questions.

1. I know I don’t have to “eat for two” but do I need to eat more than usual?

A growing baby needs nutrition to grow and develop. This means you may need to eat a little differently to help your body get all the nutrition it needs to support a healthy pregnancy. Try to eat mostly nutrient rich foods, like vegetables, fruits, wholegrain breads and cereals, lean meats, fish, legumes and lentils and dairy foods and/or calcium added alternatives. For more information about eating well for pregnancy

Your body needs slightly more food than usual during pregnancy. By having regular meals and eating until you feel satisfied helps you eat what your body needs. Expect that you will put on weight as your body changes to support the development of your baby. How your body changes is unique to you. Talk to your doctor or midwife about how your body is changing and how you are eating as this is an important part of monitoring a healthy pregnancy.

Remember if you are following a special diet or way of eating for any other reason it’s important that you share this with your doctor or midwife. Extra food and nutrition advice may be needed.

2. Do I need to take any special nutritional supplements?

Important nutrients for a healthy pregnancy are iodine and folate. It is hard to get enough of these from food alone.  If you’re pregnant it’s important that you:

  1. Take a folate supplement containing 500 micrograms of folic acid for the first three months of pregnancy. For more information on folate requirements and pregnancy
  2. Take an iodine supplement with 150 micrograms of iodine every day during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. For more information on Iodine and pregnancy

You can get these supplements from your local pharmacy. Some people need to take extra supplements during pregnancy as their needs are different. Talk to your doctor or midwife who can work out if you need to take any extra supplements.

3. Are there any foods I shouldn’t eat when I’m pregnant?

Be food safe

During pregnancy, the immune system is weaker so being food safe is important. Some harmful germs in foods can make you and your unborn baby very sick. If you are pregnant and have symptoms of food poisoning, it is important to get medical help straight away.

Some foods to avoid include:

  • soft cheeses (e.g. brie, camembert)
  • deli meats and salads
  • uncooked or partially cooked egg (eg in an uncooked cake batter)
  • ready to eat chilled seafood.

For a full list of foods to be careful with when pregnant 

The safest option is not to drink alcoholic drinks

As alcohol can harm unborn babies, the safest option is not to drink alcohol while you are pregnant. For more information on alcohol

Reduce mercury risk

Mercury can affect the nervous system of unborn babies. It is found naturally in the environment. Most mercury we eat comes from fish. Fish contain different amounts of mercury. How much fish you can safely eat when pregnant depends on the type of fish, read more to find out about this

Limit caffeine

Caffeine is a mild stimulant, found in coffee, tea, chocolate, energy and cola drinks. Limit to 200 milligrams (mg) from all food and drink sources of caffeine each day. This is about the same as:

  • two cups of instant coffee or one espresso coffee or one coffee based cold milk drink or
  • four cups of tea or
  • two small cola drinks.

4. What’s the best way to manage morning sickness?

Morning sickness with symptoms that include nausea, vomiting and poor appetite is common during pregnancy particularly in the first trimester.

Tips to manage nausea:

  • smaller frequent meals and snacks
  • drink water and other fluids between meals and not with meals
  • delay breakfast until nausea passes, try only something small on waking if needed
  • ginger may help (tea or tablets).

Uncontrolled nausea and vomiting may require medication. If you are experiencing severe morning sickness talk to your doctor or midwife. For most pregnancies this settles by the second trimester.

For more information about pregnancy nutrition go to the pregnancy page of this website