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Eating well during pregnancy

Eating well has many benefits for both you and your baby. Eating a variety of nutritious foods from across the main food groups in the Eatwell Guide helps to protect your physical health and mental wellbeing, as well as support the heathy growth and development of your baby.

The Eatwell Guide shows the different amounts and types of foods needed to enjoy a well-balanced and healthy diet, giving us an overview of what is recommended to eat and drink over a period of time, such as a week. Watch this short video on the Eatwell Guide for useful hints and tips.

Keeping hydrated (fluids)

Good hydration is one of the most important aspects of our diet. It is important to drink enough fluids to keep levels topped up in the body and to make sure all our bodily functions can take place as normal. Fluid needs are a little higher in pregnancy and it is recommended to have around 8-10 cups of fluid a day (approximately 200ml per cup or glass). Due to losses, we are likely to need more fluid when the weather is hot, when we are exercising, or if we are being sick. A range of hot and cold fluids can count, but water is particularly good for keeping us well hydrated.

High intakes of caffeine in pregnancy can increase risks such as low birth weight, miscarriage and stillbirth. To help reduce these risks keep caffeine containing drinks to a minimum, and have less than 200mg of caffeine a day. These drinks contain the following amounts of caffeine:

  • 100mg in a mug of instant coffee
  • 140mg in a mug of filter coffee
  • 75mg in a mug of tea (green tea contains similar amounts of caffeine to regular tea)
  • 40mg in a can of cola
  • 80mg in a 250ml can of energy drink or 160mg in a 500ml can

It can be difficult to know how much caffeine is contained within some drinks, especially when buying coffees from cafes and retail outlets. In these cases, it may be safest to choose caffeine free options. 

Food safety during pregnancy

The most up to date information on foods and drink that are safe to consume and those that should be avoided during pregnancy can be found on the NHS website. 

No need to eat for two

There may be times during your pregnancy when you feel a little hungrier, and you may have heard people talk about needing to ‘eat for two’. However, your energy needs during pregnancy are in fact very similar to the energy needs you had before becoming pregnant. It is only during the last trimester (last 3 months) that pregnant women are advised to increase their energy intake by an extra 200kcals each day. Examples of 200kcal snack include a low fat yogurt with a small banana, or 2 thin slices of wholemeal toast with a light spread, or a mini bowl of wholegrain cereal with semi or skimmed milk.

The best way to support a healthy pregnancy is to follow a regular eating pattern and focus on enjoying a variety of foods as shown in the Eatwell Guide

Weight gain in pregnancy

It is normal to gain weight when pregnant. For most pregnant women, it is healthy to gain between 10 and 12.5kg (about 1½ to 2 stone) with most of the weight gained after week 20. Weight gain is largely due to the baby growing, the extra blood you and your baby need, the fluid that protects your baby, and the body storing some extra fat in readiness for making breast milk.

Gaining too much or too little weight when you are pregnant may increase the risk of some complications such as high blood pressure (pre- eclampsia), gestational diabetes, high or low birth weight, and problems during labour and birth. 

As part of standard care, your midwife will ask to measure your height and weight at your initial antenatal appointment. If you started off your pregnancy above a healthy weight range, for example if your Body Mass Index (BMI) was measured as 30 or greater, your midwife may offer to discuss the available care options to support you in having a healthy and safe pregnancy. 

Weight loss is not recommended during pregnancy. If you have any concerns about your weight please talk to your midwife or GP.

For those wanting support to lose weight after pregnancy, there is help and support available through Help with my weight in North Wales

Alcohol consumption

Current guidelines recommend that for those planning a pregnancy and for those who are pregnant, the safest option is to avoid alcohol. Alcohol can increase the risk of a miscarriage or your baby could develop problems leading to poor growth, learning, and behavioural difficulties. If you have any concerns about alcohol consumption in pregnancy, speak to your midwife.

Recipe ideas

The Nutrition Skills for Life® website and the Foodwise in Pregnancy App offers a range of family friendly recipes to help with ideas and suggestions for tasty and nutritious meals and snacks.