Diet & Health in Pregnancy

slide-big-2We strongly recommend you take folic acid (400 micrograms daily) for as long as possible prior to becoming pregnant and up until 12 weeks of pregnancy.  Doing so is known to help prevent defects of the spine in the baby eg Spina Bifida.

A balanced diet is important while you are pregnant. Your energy requirements during pregnancy will increase by about 200 calories a day.

Vitamin and mineral supplements are not usually required, even though iron and calcium needs are increased.

The best source of iron is from meat, chicken or fish. Your blood count will be checked at your first visit and again at 28 weeks gestation to determine whether you require iron supplements (about 15% of women require supplements).

Your calcium needs can be met by having 2 – 3 servings of dairy products per day (a glass of milk is equivalent to 1 serving).

Healthy food during

  • It is important to ensure safe food handling during pregnancy to avoid infections like listeria, Toxoplasmosis, E Coli and campylobacter which can make both mother and baby unwell.
  • Keep cooked foods and ready to eat foods separate from raw and unprocessed foods, so there is no cross contamination. Eat freshly cooked food as soon as possible after cooking.
  • Use cooked or prepared food, that has been stored in the fridge, within two days.
  • Re-heat cooked food thoroughly so that it is “piping hot”, i.e., above 70’C. Take special care to heat thoroughly when using microwave ovens.
  • Wash raw fruit and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Wash your hands and utensils and chopping boards before using a different food – avoid cross contamination.

slide-big-1Safe foods:

Freshly cooked foods Pasteurised dairy foods. eg. Cheddar, cottage or processed cheese, milk, UHT milk, yoghurt – these foods must be safely handled, stored and protected from cross contamination

Freshly washed vegetables and fruit

  • Tinned foods that have just been opened
  • Bread and baked foods without cream or custard
  • Dried foods Cereals Beverages.

Unsafe foods for people at risk:

  • Chilled pre-cooked or uncooked fish or seafood products including smoked salmon or oysters
  • Any type of pate Cold pre-cooked chicken Ham and other chilled pre-cooked meat products
  • Cured or smoked meat and products such as Parma or Serrano Ham, salami etc
  • Stored salads and coleslawRaw (unpasteurised) milk Ripened soft cheese eg Camembert, Brie, blue-veined cheeseLiver or liver products
  • Caffeine intake should be limited to 300mg per day
  • Fish with relatively high levels of mercury eg marlin, swordfish or shark, should be taken only occasionally or not at all.

Dental Care in Pregnancy

We recommend regular dental checks. If you are not up to date with your dental checks it is recommended you see the dentist in the 2nd trimester. Be sure to let your dentist know that you are pregnant before having any treatment.

You may experience morning sickness (vomiting and nausea) during the first term of your pregnancy. Stomach contents are acidic and may dissolve some of the tooth enamel. To avoid damaging your teeth after vomiting, do not brush your teeth. Instead you should wipe a smear of toothpaste over the teeth and rinse with water.

Gagging can often occur whilst brushing your teeth. If this makes you feel sick, try to concentrate on your breathing as you clean your back teeth. Brushing without toothpaste can also help, but return to using toothpaste as soon as possible.

You may experience cravings for certain foods. Frequent snacks and drinks, especially sweet ones, can lead to dental decay. Choose a wide variety of snacks which are low in sugar, fat and salt, and high in fibre. Drinks such as milk and water are recommended.

Your gums may be easily irritated by dental plaque. When you become pregnant, the hormones in your body change. These hormones can cause your gums to become inflamed and bleed. Clean your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing each day to reduce the irritation and keep your gums healthy.

Alcohol and smoking

Alcohol can put your baby and pregnancy at risk.. There is no evidence, however that alcohol in small amounts and occasionally is unsafe. Some women will chose to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.

Any smoking in pregnancy, however, is harmful to your baby. Smoking can lead to low oxygen levels causing poor growth and in extreme circumstances, death. Smoking can also cause bleeding , premature labour and placental separation. These are extremely serious complications and all women are strongly urged to stop smoking during pregnancy.


In the absence of significant medical problems pregnant women are encouraged to engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most days of the week.

You will be more prone to falling and injuring joints when pregnant so be cautious about activities such as running as your pregnancy progresses. You will also be more prone to feeling dizzy or light headed during pregnancy potentially increasing the risk of injury with some sports.

Feel free to talk to us about the potential risks of any particular sporting activity you take part in – no sport is risk free but some women are over cautious about exercise and sport in pregnancy.