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Diet in Pregnancy

We've all heard the idea that you should be “eating for two” when you are pregnant, but do you know how much more you should eat? A recent worldwide study found that the majority of women don't gain a healthy amount of weight when they are pregnant. Researchers in Australia concluded that 23% of women did not gain as much weight as they should do during pregnant, but 50% gained too much with women in western countries being more likely to fall into this category. As there are no formal evidence-based guidelines in the UK about how much weight you should expect to gain during pregnancy it can be difficult to work out if you are putting on too much or not enough.

It is clear that putting on an excessive amount of weight, or not gaining enough, when you are expecting can lead to increased risk of problems for both mother and baby - but do how do you know how much more you should eat to ensure that you and your baby are healthy? The official guidance from NICE says that women do not actually need to eat more during the first six months of pregnancy, and should be eating around an extra 200 calories a day in the final trimester. Despite this advice, a recent UK survey found that most women didn't know how much more they should eat and that they often felt pressured by others to eat more because they were pregnant.

Of course, every woman is different and there is always some room for flexibility, but the most important thing is to ensure you follow a healthy diet during pregnancy and  to use your additional calorie intake healthily. Sometimes it can be tempting to assume you can eat what you like when you are expecting and to give yourself a green light for adding lots of chocolate, crisps or sweets to your normal diet. Although it's fine to do this occasionally, there are far more healthy ways to supplement what you usually eat during the last trimester of pregnancy.

We have some suggestions for healthy and delicious snacks you might want to consider:

  • fresh fruit or fruit salad
  • a handful of nuts, seeds and dried fruit
  • a wholemeal roll with cheddar and salad
  • crudités or pitta bread and hummus
  • avocado on toast
  • steamed asparagus with dips
  • vegetable soup with a granary roll
  • wholemeal toast with banana
  • egg and spinach on toast
  • home-made granola with yoghurt
  • fruit and veg smoothies
  • grapes and/or apple with cheddar cheese

If you are at all worried about what you should or shouldn't eat during pregnancy, or have concerns about whether you are gaining the right amount of weight, you should always discuss this with your doctor or midwife and follow their advice.

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