Your pregnancy diet

What to eat - and avoid - in pregnancy to stay healthy and give your baby the best start in life.

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A good diet can help you combat health problems during pregnancy, and ensures your baby gets the best start in life. For optimum nutrition in pregnancy, eat small (only an extra 300 calories in the third trimester), frequent meals that include:

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Complex carbohydrates

Such as wholegrains, beans, lentils and vegetables, which give a steady release of energy and provide plenty of fibre to aid digestion and guard against constipation.

Protein

Such as lean meat, beans and lentils, fish, quinoa (a grain), eggs and dairy.

Unsaturated fats

Found in oily fish (mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines), nuts, seeds, pulses and beans (including soya), which are vital for your baby’s brain and eye development. Avoid saturated fats, found in full-fat dairy products and meat, and hydrogenated fats in margarines and baked goods.

Vitamins and minerals

Particularly antioxidant vitamins C and E, and selenium, which may lessen the risk of pre-eclampsia. Eat at least five portions of fresh fruit and veg daily, and combine colours.

Iron-rich foods

Such as fortified breakfast cereals, pulses, seeds, dried fruits, and leafy veg such as chard or spinach. Eat with vitamin C-rich foods to increase iron absorption.

Calcium

In milk, cheese, almonds, whitebait, dried prunes and fortified soya milk.

Folate

You need 400mcg of folic acid a day to reduce the risk of birth defects and miscarriage.

This is not easily achieved through diet alone, so a folic acid supplement is recommended before conception and during the first trimester.

Mum’s story

“I ate too much!”

“I’ve been on some sort of diet for most my adult life, so I saw pregnancy as a chance to ditch the diet and indulge. It was liberating, but I went too far, eating an extra 600 calories a day, and piled on four stone. I pulled back and started to concentrate on filling up on fruit and vegetables again before treats, and I found some of that weight came off, it made me feel a lot better.”

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Rhian, 31, mum to Rhodri, 1

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