Healthy eating while pregnant has many advantages, including keeping the mother’s strength up, helping her body to stand up to the strain that being pregnant puts it under, as well as ensuring that the baby has a proper start to life by getting as many vitamins, minerals and nutrients as it needs before birth.
Up to 80% of pregnant women experience some form of morning sickness – which can often last all day – and eating the right kinds of food has been found to alleviate this. A few women will sometimes experience sickness that is so bad that they are unable to eat or drink, or if they do they cannot keep this down, and end up becoming dehydrated. This is very dangerous for both mother and child, and can often lead to hospitalisation.
Help for nausea
- Eat small amounts of food as often over the course of the day
- If constant eating helps to alleviate the nausea, carry small amounts of food in a bag
- Drink lots of fluids like water, but avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can make dehydration worse
- Try ginger, which has been known to work against nausea – this can be found in biscuits, tea, or simply used in cooking
- Avoid spicy, acidic, fatty or rich food
Cravings during pregnancy affect around half of pregnant women, and can range from chilly ice cream and dried fish to dirt, which is called pica, and can mean that the woman is lacking some form of mineral in her diet. It is often the body’s way of letting you know what it needs. Indulging in these cravings is not a bad thing, but moderation is always a healthy way to handle them – instead of eating an entire party-size bag of crisps, rather eat a smaller packet or only a handful.
Foods to avoid
- Soft cheese – unpasteurized cheese like blue cheese, feta, brie or camembert may contain Listeria, which is a bacteria that can cause fever, nausea and diarrhoea
- Raw meat – beef carpaccio or any rare meat that may contain bacteria and Salmonella
- Deli meat – prepared meats may also contain the Listeria bactera
- Undercooked eggs – raw or undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella
- Fish – certain fish should be avoided, such as tuna, swordfish, shark and mackerel as they all contain high levels of mercury. Sushi is also to be avoided, as it is raw, and can contain bacteria that could cause food poisoning and pose a serious risk to the unborn child
- Caffeine – Large amounts of caffeine have been linked to increased miscarriages and birth defects. Caffeine is found not only in coffee, but also in soft drinks, chocolate and certain teas
- Alcohol – This is to be avoided at all costs, as drinking too much alcohol during pregnancy has been linked to a condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can cause serious birth defects
Good for you
- Wholegrain bread and cereals, pulses and fresh vegetables
- Protein from lean meat and poultry, beans and lentils, fish, eggs and dairy products
- Oily fish like salmon, sardines and herrings
- Unsaturated fats contained in beans and nuts
- Fruit and vegetables as often as possible