Healthy Pregnancy Diet and Lifestyle | Pregnancy Advice

pregnancy can be a very exciting time for most people. It can besides make some people feel anxious about what they should ( or should not ) be doing for their own and their child ‘s health .

During pregnancy it is crucial to continue to eat a healthy balanced diet. You may have an increased appetite but it is not necessary to ‘eat for two’, even if you are having twins or triplets. besides much system of weights gain increases your risk of developing problems late in the pregnancy. besides, excess weight unit is unmanageable to lose after the parturition. For women with a convention pre-pregnancy weight, a weight profit of 11-16 kilogram over the pregnancy is convention. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ( NICE ) advises that meaning women only need an excess 200 calories per day in the last three months of pregnancy. No extra calories are needed until that sharpen.

Aim to eat a healthy diet ( which everyone should be eating, not merely pregnant women ). This should include a diverseness of foods including :

  • Starch-based foods (such as bread, cereals, potatoes, rice, and pasta).
  • Fruit and vegetables.
  • Plenty of fibre, which can be found in wholegrain breads as well as fruit and vegetables.
  • Protein foods such as meat, fish, pulses, chicken, etc, every day. Choose lean meat, cut the fat off red meat and the skin off chicken.
  • Dairy foods, such as yoghurt, milk and cheese.

Try to avoid adding fatty – for exemplar, by not frying food where possible. Include foods with plenty of iron, calcium and folic acid – a growing baby needs these nutrients proper from the startle of the pregnancy :

  • Iron is mainly in red meat, pulses, dried fruit, green vegetables and fortified cereals.
  • Calcium is mainly in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. (Low-fat milk, cheeses and yoghurts usually contain just as much calcium as the full-fat varieties.)
  • Folic acid is mainly in green vegetables, brown rice, and fortified cereals.

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You should not eat the pursuit if you are fraught :

  • Anything with a lot of vitamin A. You need a small amount of vitamin A to keep healthy. However, large amounts can harm an unborn baby. So, avoid:
    • Liver and liver products such as liver pâté and cod liver oil supplements.
    • Vitamin tablets or supplements which contain vitamin A.
  • Food which may have high levels of listeria. Listeria is a germ (bacterium) which does not usually cause problems in people who are not pregnant. However, pregnant women are more likely to become infected with listeria and it sometimes causes miscarriage, stillbirth or infections in the baby after birth. Foods which are most at risk of carrying listeria are:
    • Undercooked meats and eggs. This may occur in some pre-cooked meats and pre-prepared meals. Make sure all meat foods are cooked until piping hot. Eggs should be cooked until the white and yolk are solid. Avoid foods that may contain raw eggs, such as some types of mayonnaise and mousse.
    • Mould-ripened and soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert and blue-veined cheeses. (Hard cheeses and processed cottage cheese are safe.)
    • Pâtés – including vegetable pâtés.
    • Raw shellfish and raw fish (more detail below).
    • Unpasteurised milk. Note: goat’s milk is often unpasteurised, and goat’s milk products such as cheeses are often made from unpasteurised milk.
  • Certain fish. In general, fish is a good source of protein and other nutrients. Aim to eat at least two portions of fish per week, with at least one portion being oily fish (see below). However, there are some important exceptions. Some types of fish contain a high level of mercury which can damage the developing nervous system of an unborn baby. Because of this, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises:
    • You should not eat any shark, marlin or swordfish.
    • Limit tuna – eat no more than four medium-sized cans (drained weight = 140 g per can) or two fresh tuna steaks per week (weighing about 140 g cooked or 170 g raw).

    Avoid eating sensitive fish or uncooked shellfish which may contain germs ( bacteria, viruses or parasites ). besides, some types of fish may contain a small measure of chemicals from befoulment, including dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls ( PCBs ). If you eat a distribute of these fish, these chemicals may build up in your consistency over time, which may be harmful. Because of this, the FSA advises that you should have no more than two portions a week of any of the following fish :

    • Oily fish, including mackerel, sardines, salmon, trout and fresh tuna. (Tinned tuna doesn’t count as oily fish.)
    • Sea bream, sea bass, turbot, halibut, rock salmon (also known as dogfish, flake, huss, rig or rock eel).
    • Brown crabmeat.
  • Limit the amount of caffeine to no more than 300 mg per day. Some authorities advise limiting to 200 mg per day. Caffeine is a substance that occurs naturally in foods such as tea, coffee and chocolate; is added to some drinks such as cola, and some energy drinks; and is an ingredient of some cough and cold remedies, and some painkillers which you can buy at pharmacies. Having a lot of caffeine increases your risk of having a miscarriage and a baby with low birth weight. The increased risk is small. But, it is best to play safe. To give you an idea:
    • One mug of instant coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine.
    • One mug of filter coffee has about 140 mg of caffeine.
    • One mug of tea has about 75 mg of caffeine.
    • One 50 g plain chocolate bar has about 50 mg of caffeine. Milk chocolate has about half the caffeine that plain chocolate has.
    • One can of cola or half a can of an energy drink has up to 40 mg of caffeine.

A note about peanuts : at one point the FSA advised that you may wish to avoid eating peanuts when you are meaning in certain cases. This included if you have an atopic disease such as asthma, eczema or hay fever, or if a close family member has one of these conditions. This was because there was a refer that children could develop a peanut allergy as a consequence of their mother eating peanuts during pregnancy. however, in the light of newfangled tell, this advice was changed in December 2008. The FSA now advises that there is no necessitate for women who are meaning or breastfeed, or who have children aged under 3 years, to change their diets in ordain to exclude peanuts .


toxoplasmosis is an infection with a microbe ( bacteria ) normally found in raw meat and in sheep, lamb and cat-o’-nine-tails poo ( faeces ). It can sometimes cause good harm to an unborn child. It can cause miscarriage, spontaneous abortion, and abnormalities in the baby. To avoid it :

  • Wash your hands after handling raw meat.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked (rare) meat.
  • Wash salads and vegetables, as any dirt may have been contaminated by cat faeces.
  • Wash your hands after handling pets or animals, especially cats and kittens.
  • Get someone else to clean out any cat litter trays when you are pregnant.
  • Always wear gloves when gardening.
  • Avoid sheep, especially during the lambing season.

General precautions for handling food

Always wash your hands before handling food. Thoroughly wash all fruit and vegetables before eating them. Make certain crude meat and pre-prepared raw quick meals are by rights cooked. This reduces your risks of getting infections from food. diverse germs ( bacteria, viruses or similar ) can cause food poison. Food poisoning causes stomach ( abdominal ) pain, fluid stools ( diarrhea ) and vomiting. Two germs that are of particular importance to avoid during pregnancy have already been mentioned – listeria and toxoplasma. It is possible that other food poisoning bacteria may besides cause complications during pregnancy. For example, gut infection with bacteria called salmonella and campylobacter may be associated with an increased hazard of pregnancy complications. so, it is wise to be extra argus-eyed about avoiding food poison. therefore, be rigorous about food hygiene :

  • Always cook eggs and meat, including poultry, thoroughly.
  • Wash fruit and vegetables.
  • Wash your hands after going to the toilet, before handling food, before eating, after handling raw meat and after touching animals. 

The effects of some prescribed medicines have been well studied and it is known that certain medicines are safe in pregnancy. For example, paracetamol at normal drug is condom and utilitarian for headaches, backache and early aches and pains that may occur during pregnancy. however, for many medicines, it is not known for indisputable if they are safe or insecure. so if you are fraught, you should minimise your function of medicine. This includes medicines that you can buy. besides, merely because a medicine says it is herbal or natural, it does not inevitably mean that it is harmless or safe. Always tell a doctor or dentist who prescribes medication for you that you are meaning. besides, do n’t take medicines that you can buy over the counter ( including herbal remedies ) unless they are known to be safe in pregnancy. The pharmacist will advise .

Editor ‘s note

Dr Sarah Jarvis, 18th September 2019 Paracetamol in pregnancy Paracetamol is widely used for headaches, backache and other aches and pains that may occur during pregnancy. A new study has looked at whether taking paracetamol between 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy affects behaviour in your child after they are born. The analyze suggested that young children were more likely to show signs of hyperactivity, attention problems, and other unmanageable behaviours if their mothers had taken paracetamol between 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. Most of the differences in behavior were seen only in pre-school children – most had disappeared by the prison term children reached age 7-8 years and there was no attest of a yoke by the time children reached the end of chief school. This is what is called an ‘observational sketch ‘. That means we ca n’t know for certain if it was the paracetamol, rather than some other gene, that actually caused the problem. however, as a resultant role, doctors are probable to advise that you only take paracetamol if you truly need to. You should besides take the lowest dose you need for the shortest possible meter. We have consequently changed the advice in this leaflet .

  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen. You should not normally take these during pregnancy. Regular use during pregnancy may affect the large blood vessels of the developing baby.
  • Laxatives. Constipation is common in pregnancy and you may need a laxative. At first it is best to try increasing the fibre in your diet and increasing the amount of non-alcoholic fluids that you drink. If this fails then fibre supplements such as bran, ispaghula and sterculia are safe. Fybogel® is one such example commonly used for constipation in pregnancy. If you need something stronger then it is best to discuss this with a doctor. Some laxatives such as docusate and lactulose may be prescribed safely for a short time.
  • Antihistamines. These are commonly used for people with hay fever. Most manufacturers advise avoiding antihistamines in pregnancy. This is because there are no trials to show they are safe. However, there is no evidence of harm either.
  • Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine and xylometazoline often bought for symptoms of the common cold are best avoided in pregnancy.

If you already take even medicine, ideally you will have discussed this with a doctor before becoming fraught. If you have an unplanned pregnancy, hash out with your doctor of the church arsenic early as possible any medication that you take. In some cases, the hazard of taking the medicine has to be balanced against the risk of not taking the medicine, and your condition not being treated .

Folic acid

You should take folic acid tablets ( supplements ). Ideally, do this from at least one month before you get meaning, and continue taking them until at least the conclusion of the 12th week of pregnancy – even if you are healthy and have a full diet. Folic acerb is a naturally occurring vitamin found in spinach, sprouts, broccoli, green beans and potatoes. Some breads and breakfast cereals are fortified with folic acid. Because of the hearty benefits of folic acid, some countries routinely fortify staple foods, such as wheat, corn flour or rice, with folic acid. presently there is argue as to whether the UK should follow befit and fortify certain common foods with folic acid. You need a well provision of folic acid when you are meaning to help with the exploitation of the pamper. If you take folic acerb tablets in early pregnancy you reduce the gamble of having a pamper born with a spinal cord trouble such as spina bifida. You can buy folic acerb tablets from pharmacies. besides, in the UK, the NHS Healthy Start schema provides vitamin supplements that contain folic acid. These are dislodge to many women who are on certain benefits.

  • For most women, the dose is 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) a day.
  • If you have an increased risk of having a child with a spinal cord problem then the dose is 5 mg a day. You need a prescription for this higher dose – that is, if:
    • You have had a previously affected pregnancy.
    • You or your partner have (or have a family with) a spinal cord defect.
    • You are taking medication for epilepsy.
    • You are obese – especially if your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or more.
    • You have coeliac disease, diabetes, sickle cell anaemia or thalassaemia.

ideally, start taking folic acerb tablets before becoming fraught. The common advice is to start from the time you stop using contraception. If the pregnancy is unintentional then start taking folic acid tablets a soon as you know that you are meaning .

Vitamin D

Editor ‘s notice

Dr Sarah Jarvis, February 2019. A new study has shown that getting enough vitamin D ( and E ) in pregnancy reduces the opportunity of your baby developing asthma in childhood. first gear levels of vitamin D in pregnancy are besides linked to higher levels of infection in your pamper. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you on supplements containing vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for emergence and supplements are recommended for all pregnant women, breastfeeding women and breastfed babies. The dose if you are pregnant or breastfeed is 400 units ( 10 micrograms ) casual. Some experts think that women who get little or no sunlight on their skin need a higher venereal disease, such as 800 units ( 20 micrograms ) daily. This is because most of the vitamin D that we get is made in the hide with the help of sunlight. Your repair will advise. In the UK, some women on certain benefits can get vitamin D supplements loose on the Healthy Start outline. Otherwise you will normally be advised to buy these supplements over the counter from a drugstore .


Iodine is known to be important for the goodly exploitation of the brain of the fetus. A womanhood who is meaning needs more tincture of iodine than common to supply the development fetus. If they do not have adequate tincture of iodine, the baby may end up less intelligent than they differently would have been. Iodine chiefly comes from milk, yogurt, eggs and fish. Because iodine intake can be variable, some countries routinely fortify cereals and bread with iodine – but not the UK. Some salt contains iodine, but not all. Most people try to avoid using much salt in production line with health recommendations. So there are concerns that some meaning women may not be getting sufficient iodine in their diet. One late study listed in ‘Further reading & references ‘ below suggests that all women should have tincture of iodine supplements in pregnancy. This decisiveness has not been made for the UK but it may be worth considering whether your diet has enough tincture of iodine. You may wish to discuss this with your sophisticate or midwife .

Women who are fraught should avoid smoking, due to the price it can cause the unborn baby. It can besides have long-run effects on the health of your child after birth. Find out more in the separate cusp called Pregnancy and Smoking. This outlines the harms resulting from smoking in pregnancy and how you can stop smoking .

Women who are meaning should not drink alcohol. The reason for this is that alcohol can cause damage to a developing baby. Alcohol gets to a baby through the placenta if a meaning womanhood drinks alcohol. A child can not process alcohol identical well. so, any alcohol in your pamper stays in its body much longer than in you. This is known to be a risk for causing serious problems. At worst, babies can develop a syndrome of severe abnormalities, called fetal alcohol syndrome. In others, alcohol can cause problems for the baby such as poor increase, premature labour and physical and genial disability. Guidelines in the UK advise that women should drink no alcohol at all for the first three months of pregnancy. This is because it increases the chance of spontaneous abortion. After this time it is still better to drink no alcohol at all, as it is not known what sum is safe. This credibly varies between different people. Getting drunk and gorge drink are harmful to the child. It is easy to underestimate how a lot you drink. It is safe to avoid alcohol all in all throughout pregnancy. Find out more in the branch cusp called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome .

For most women, it is significant to do some regular physical exercise during pregnancy as depart of living a healthy life style. There are some circumstances in which this may need to be modified, and there are some sports which are best avoided in pregnancy. Learn more in the disjoined booklet called Pregnancy and Physical Activity .

sex is safe for most couples during pregnancy. former in pregnancy, arouse and orgasm may provoke contractions known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. These make your bump feel hard. They can be uncomfortable but are quite normal. They normally pass after a few minutes. Your doctor of the church or midwife may advise you to avoid sexual activity if you have had heavy bleed in your pregnancy. This may besides be the case if your waters have broken. This is because the protective barrier has gone, indeed having sex then may increase the risk of infection. As the pregnancy progresses and the dislodge becomes bigger you may find some positions more difficult. You and your partner may need to experiment to find something that works for both of you .

If you think that your caper may pose a risk to a pregnancy then ideally you should discuss this with your employer before you become fraught or deoxyadenosine monophosphate soon as you become pregnant. Certain jobs and workplaces may pose a hazard to a pregnancy, in particular to the early stages of pregnancy. For case :

  • Raw meat is sometimes contaminated with germs (bacteria), such as listeria and toxoplasma. If these germs infect adults, they may cause listeriosis or toxoplasmosis but may cause little harm. However, these germs can cause serious problems to your unborn child if you become infected when you are pregnant.
  • If you work with certain animals. For example:
    • You should avoid contact with sheep and lambs at lambing time. This is because some lambs are born contaminated with germs such as listeria, toxoplasma and chlamydia which may affect you and your unborn baby.
    • Cats and kittens often carry toxoplasma germs and these are especially found in cat poo (faeces). So, cleaning out cat litters and handling cats and kittens can be a risk.
  • If your job puts you at risk of contracting hepatitis B, you should be immunised against this virus. For example, if you are a healthcare worker, or work at a daycare or residential centre. (Women with hepatitis B can pass on the infection to their child at childbirth.)
  • If you work with chemicals, fumes, radiation, etc. Some may be toxic to an unborn baby.

The above are good examples. In abruptly, if you think that your occupation may pose a risk to a pregnancy then you should discuss this with your employer before becoming pregnant. A change in job, or in working rehearse, may be necessary. You and your employer may wish to download information guides from the Health and Safety Executive ( HSE ) web site. They have an information line if you have a health and base hit concern at influence but do not wish to discuss your pregnancy or planned pregnancy with your employer .

The effects of all the different types of amateur ( illicit ) drugs on pregnancy are not in full known. however, there is an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that they are probable to pose a risk of price to the baby. Examples include :

  • If you take or inject heroin when you are pregnant it may increase the risk of:
    • Miscarriage.
    • Slowing the growth of the baby, leading to a low birth weight.
    • Premature labour, leading to the baby being ‘prem’.
    • Stillbirth.
    • The baby having withdrawal symptoms after the birth.
  • Using cocaine when you are pregnant is particularly hazardous. It may increase the risk of:
    • Serious life-threatening bleeding from the womb (uterus) in late pregnancy (placental abruption).
    • Miscarriage.
    • Slowing the growth of the baby, leading to a low birth weight.
    • Premature labour leading to the baby being ‘prem’.
    • Stillbirth.
    • Possibly, abnormalities of the baby when it is born.

The above are barely two examples. There are many recreational drugs and it is beyond the scope of this booklet to discuss each drug in sour. You can contact the FRANK web site for information about individual drugs. Some people can stop drugs without any help ; however, many people will require help. If you are using drugs and can not stop easily, see your sophisticate for help oneself. Your doctor will be able to refer you to a local community drug team for help oneself. Most community drug teams can :

  • Offer treatment plans. For example, one option for people who use heroin is to take substitute therapy with methadone in place of injecting heroin. This option is safer than injecting heroin during pregnancy.
  • Provide counselling and information.
  • Provide harm-reduction activities such as needle exchange schemes.

Avoid contact with sheep and lambs at lamb time. This is because some lambs are born carrying the germs that cause listeriosis, toxoplasmosis and chlamydia. These may be passed on to you and your unborn baby. Toxoplasma is besides found in vomit poo. You should always wash your hands after handling cats and kittens and ask person else to wash out cat litter trays.

In general it is safe to travel during pregnancy. When in a car, wear the seat belt thus that the straps go above and below your find, not across it. Flying is not known to be harmful. Most airlines will not allow you to fly in the late stages of pregnancy. This is because planes are not the ideal locate to go into labor, and they would prefer not to divert the flight to take you to the nearest hospital. It makes sense not to travel to anywhere excessively outback and far from medical aid, particularly in the early or former stages of pregnancy. besides not all travel vaccinations are safe to use in pregnancy, so consider your finish carefully. If potential avoid travel to destinations where malaria is prevailing, as meaning women are more likely to be bitten and more likely to have complications if they develop the disease. besides debar areas where Zika virus is circulating if potential, due to the risk of abnormalities in babies born to pregnant women who develop Zika. See the distinguish cusp called Zika Virus for more information about this. The cusp besides provides advice about having sex with a man who has recently returned from a nation where the Zika virus is going around .

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