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Having a balanced diet is important during pregnancy to help you feel well and give your baby everything they need to grow. You will probably feel hungrier while pregnant, however in the first 3 months you don’t need to eat any more than normal. The quality of the foods you choose is important to help you get the nutrients you and your baby need.

In the later part of your pregnancy you may need to increase the amount of food you eat.  The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating provides a guide to the number and size of servings that will help you achieve a healthy balanced diet. Depending on your current weight and activity levels you may need to add an extra 2½ serves of grain foods and 1 extra serve of protein foods (See chart below). 

Serve sizes

Simple tips for healthy eating

Some simple tips to help you achieve a healthy diet and meet all your nutritional needs include:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat vegetables or salad at most meals

Following these steps can also help you eat enough fibre to help prevent or manage constipation, which can be a common problem in pregnancy.

Eating healthy during pregnancy can be a challenge if you have nausea or are vomiting, both of which can affect your appetite. You could try some of these tips to help manage these symptoms:

  • Have a snack before getting out of bed (for example a dry cracker)
  • Drink fluids between meals, rather than drinking with meals
  • Try not to skip meals, an empty stomach can make nausea worseGet Healthy in Pregnancy
  • Eat small meals often rather than large meals
  • Avoid foods with strong smells – cold foods can have less smell than hot foods
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods

What to avoid

It is not safe to drink alcohol during pregnancy. If you are planning a pregnancy, are pregnant or breast feeding you should try to avoid drinking alcohol.

The hormone changes in pregnancy will lower your immune system and make it harder to fight off illness. Food safety is especially important during pregnancy as some infections (such as listeria) can harm your unborn baby. Avoiding these foods:

  • Raw or partially cooked eggs
  • Raw or uncooked meat
  • Some soft cheeses
  • Liver products
  • Raw shellfish
  • Pre-packaged salads, including buffets and salad bars
  • Sushi

For more information on foods to avoid in pregnancy see the NSW Food Authority brochure.  

Other useful links:

 

 [Sources: Eat for Health, Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, Get Healthy NSW, Raising Children Network, Pregnancy Birth and Baby, Queensland Health, NSW Food Authority]