Nutrition advice during pregnancy

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Nutrition advice during pregnancy

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Publication date: 
24 May 2021
Last updated: 
8 June 2021
Publication type: 
Fact sheet
Intended audience: 
General public

Your healthy pregnancy

Eating well during pregnancy for your baby’s health and development.

Eat for you, not for 2

  • The need to eat for two during pregnancy is a myth.
  • In the 2nd and 3rd trimesters you may need some extra food to provide nutrients for the growth of your baby.
  • Eating a little more vegetables, lean protein and wholegrains each day is all you’ll need. For example, a small bowl of wholegrain pasta with vegetables and meat or bean sauce.

Eat these

  • Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, tofu, beans, nuts
  • Rainbow plate – eat plenty of different coloured fruit and vegetables, which are nutrient-rich and essential for you and your baby
  • Bread, cereals, rice, noodles (mostly wholegrain)
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables, legumes
  • Milk, cheese, yoghurt and alternatives (mostly reduced fat)

Make a healthy food swap

These food swaps provide you with more nutrients to support your baby’s growth and help control blood sugar levels and prevent constipation.

  • Swap white bread (rice or pasta) for wholegrain.
  • Swap ice cream for yoghurt.
  • Swap soft drinks for sparkling water.
  • Swap chips for plain, unsalted popcorn.

Tip: Add an extra handful of vegetables when cooking and try baking or grilling food instead of frying it in oil.

Foods to avoid

Not all food is safe during pregnancy. The immune system is lower during pregnancy which makes it harder to fight off illness and infection caused by bacteria found in some foods.

  • Deli meats, soft cheeses, pâté and soft-serve ice cream – may contain listeria, a harmful bacteria.
  • Raw or undercooked meats – can give you an infection called toxoplasmosis.
  • Raw or undercooked eggs – can cause salmonella food poisoning.
  • Smoked salmon, uncooked seafood, precooked prawns and sushi – may contain listeria (listeria, toxoplasmosis and salmonella are rare but can cause serious complications in pregnancy).
  • Don’t drink alcohol.
  • Limit large fish like shark, marlin and swordfish – they contain mercury that can affect your baby’s brain and nervous system development.
  • Limit caffeine – 1 to 2 cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea per day. Avoid double shot espresso and caffeinated energy drinks.
  • Limit high fat and sugary foods and drinks.

Tip: Feeling sick or having cravings? That’s common. It’s still important to eat well to support your body and your baby. Seek advice from your health professional if feeling sick is limiting your food intake.

The benefits of healthy eating for you and your baby

  • Iodine: brain development
  • Folic acid: blood formation and cell building
  • Vitamin D: calcium and absorption and bone health
  • Iron: brain development and energy levels
  • Calcium: bone development
  • Vitamin B12: nerve and brain development
  • Protein: blood supply and tissue growth

Vegetarian or vegan?

You can replace meat or animal products with lentils, beans, tofu and soy milk. Talk to your health professional about whether you need supplements to ensure you get the right nutrients for your baby’s development.

For more information about eating well during pregnancy visit health.gov.au/campaigns/your-healthy-pregnancy.

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