Requirements of many vitamins and minerals increase during pregnancy to assist in the metabolic processes of pregnancy and meet the needs of the developing fetus. A woman following a well-balanced nutrient dense diet is more likely to meet her increased nutritional needs.
Recommended daily servings of the 5 food groups (and snacks) for pregnant and non-pregnant women1
In this table you can see the increased amounts that are recommended when you are pregnant.
Breads/cereals: 1 serve = 1 slice of bread, ½ medium bread roll, ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or noodles.
Vegetables/legumes: 1 serve = ½ cup (75 g) cooked vegetables or legumes, 1 cup salad vegetables, 1 small potato.
Fruit: 1 serve = 1 medium piece (150 g) fruit, 1 cup diced pieces or canned fruit, ½ cup fruit juice.
Milk/yoghurt/cheese: 1 serve = 1 cup (250 mL) fresh milk, 2 slices (40 g) cheese, 1 small carton (200 g) yoghurt.
Lean meat: 1 serve = 65–100 g cooked meat or chicken, 80–120 g cooked fillet fish, 2 small eggs, ½ cup cooked legumes, 1/3 cup nuts, ½ cup sesame seeds.
Discretionary choices: foods that do not fit into the five food groups such as soft drink, crisps, chocolate.
Includes an allowance for unsaturated spreads or oils, nuts or seeds: 2 serves [14–20 g] per day.
Restrictive dieting and losing weight are not recommended during pregnancy. A varied diet that is rich in nutrients can assist with positive pregnancy outcomes, including achieving a healthy weight gain. Women should focus on normalising serving sizes of meals and snacks and minimising saturated fat and sugar containing foods. Foods that are lower in calories but higher in nutrients such as fruit and vegetables will provide a better quality diet. This, coupled with regular physical activity, is important in achieving appropriate weight gain.
Are there any foods to avoid when I am pregnant?1
A woman’s immune system changes during pregnancy, so she is more susceptible to bacterial food poisoning. Symptoms of bacterial food poisoning include fever, headache, tiredness, aches, pains, diarrhea and/or nausea.
Advice on food preparation, cooking and storage is essential to avoid food poisoning.
Bacteria is destroyed in normal cooking, so freshly cooked hot food is safe if eaten straight away.
Foods that should be avoided include:
-raw/uncooked/smoked meat and seafood, ready to eat chilled seafood
-cold-cut delicatessen meats, cooked cold meat, pate, meat spreads
-leftovers (more than 24 hours after cooking)
-pre-prepared salads, buffets
-unpasteurised milk and soft serve ice cream
-soft cheeses (brie, camembert, ricotta, feta, blue).
-unwashed raw fruit and vegetables
-raw eggs or foods containing raw or partially cooked eggs
Fish is an important part of a pregnancy diet. It is an excellent source of protein and iodine, and is low in saturated fat. It also has high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (especially oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring). However, a small number of fish species contain higher amounts of mercury. In general, women can consume 2 to3 servings of fish (~150 g/serve) each week.
Don’t eat products containing liver, such as liver pâté, or chicken and lamb liver dishes, as they may contain a lot of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm your baby
Morning Sickness and Diet
Early pregnancy can be a very exciting time, but many women find that nausea and vomiting (commonly known as morning sickness) can make the first stage not so pleasant. Although it is often called morning sickness, nausea and vomiting can happen at any time of the day or night. Changing your eating pattern can help you feel better. Eating small meals more frequently (instead of three big meals per day) and avoiding getting overly hungry can help.
Spicy, fatty, and smelly foods can trigger morning sickness, so if you aren’t feeling very well it might be best to steer clear. Plain, dry and cold foods (such as crackers, plain biscuits and nuts) are often more manageable. Yoghurt, fruit and cheese may also be good options. Having a range of snacks to graze on throughout the day will hopefully make your symptoms a little easier to manage.
Even more important than the food you eat is maintaining your hydration. If you are vomiting a lot you may get dehydrated, so try and drink around eight glasses of fluid per day. Water, some herbal teas (for example containing ginger or peppermint) and sugar-free mineral or soda water may help settle your stomach.
Help is at hand1,4
All this advice sounds great, but may not always be achievable. There may still be gaps in your goal of achieving complete nutrition.
Only about half of pregnant women meet fruit and vegetable guidelines for pregnancy, only 30% gain weight within the recommended guidelines, and over 80% consume excess amounts of foods that are often high in saturated fats and sodium.
Taking a supplement may help you reach this goal. Elevit Pronatal contains 12 vitamins, 3 minerals and 4 trace elements that are formulated to meets the needs of women who are pregnant. The active substances contained in Elevit Pronatal are dosed in such a way that they also ensure a supply to mother and child even when a balanced diet is not always guaranteed.
You may have concerns that your diet is not as fulfilling as perhaps it should be, or you may be restricted due to your religious or food ideologies (such as veganism or vegetarianism). If so, talk to your physician, pharmacist or nutritionist about how to manage your nutrition and whether a supplement such as Elevit Pronatal can help support you in a holistic approach to health and wellbeing for you and your baby.
- Wilkinson S. Nutritional Requirements for pre- and post-partum women. Australian Pharmacist. 2018:38-42.
- Australian Dietary Guidelines: Eat for Health. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council; 2013. Available at: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf. Accessed 18 September, 2019.
- Mater Health website. Nine months of nutrition: For a growing baby and a glowing mum. Available at: https://www.matermothers.org.au/journey/pregnancy/the-new-australian-dietary-guidelines. Accessed 18 September, 2019.
- NHS UK website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/foods-to-avoid-pregnant/. Accessed 18 September, 2019.
- Elevit Pronatal PIL.