Fruit and vegetables
We’re always told to get our ‘five a day’ and when you’re pregnant, it’s even more important to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. As well as containing health-boosting vitamins and minerals, they’re a good source of fibre which helps improve digestion and can prevent that all-too common pregnancy side effect - constipation.
When preparing fresh produce, be sure to wash it well. Fruit, vegetables and salads can come with traces of soil which may contain toxoplasma - a parasite that can harm your unborn baby. Steaming or cooking in a little water will help ensure vegetables retain more of their nutrients.
Protein is a building block for life itself – so it’s especially important to get enough during pregnancy. Aim to eat protein at least once a day – and vary the sources if possible. For example, eat beans and pulses, dairy, nuts, eggs, fish, poultry and lean meat (avoiding liver).
The NHS advises pregnant women to eat two servings of fish a week – but steer clear of raw seafood (such as oysters or uncooked sushi). The majority of fish contain traces of methylmercury - a metal believed to be harmful in high doses to the growing brains of fetuses – so it’s best to limit your consumption to about 12 ounces a week - equivalent to two servings.
When preparing eggs, poultry and meat, make sure they are thoroughly cooked through – raw and partially cooked eggs and meat should be avoided. You should also avoid pâté, including vegetable pâté, as it can contain listeria - and steer clear of liver and liver products as they can contain too much vitamin A, which can harm your baby.
While you don’t want to eat too many fatty foods, the body needs a certain amount of fat – just make sure it’s the good kind. Cut down on saturated fat, found in meat products, butter, hard cheese, cream, biscuits, cakes and pastries, and choose foods that are rich in unsaturated fat instead – like oily fish, nuts, seeds and sunflower and olive oils.