Many women worry about gaining excess weight during pregnancy and whether they are eating the right balance of foods to support the healthy growth of their baby. If you’re concerned about what you should and shouldn’t eat, or how much you need to eat, book an appointment with a Fernwood food coach. Your food coach can help you manage healthy eating patterns while pregnant to sustain energy and correct nutrient intake, keep you motivated and then help you achieve any weight loss goals after the birth of your baby.

How much weight should I gain in pregnancy?

The average or recommended weight gain during pregnancy is 10 to 15kg, which is usually gained as 1.5kg in the first trimester and approximately 500g per week throughout the second and third trimesters. Weight loss is not recommended during pregnancy. However if you are overweight, it can be safe to aim for a gain of only 7 to 10kg.

How much do I really need to eat?

Energy needs are increased during pregnancy, but only by a small amount – 600 kilojoules (150 calories) per day. So the old saying of “eating for two” is not true.

Are there any special foods I should be eating?

Your requirements for several important nutrients are increased during pregnancy to support the growth and development of your baby.

  • Protein – An extra 6g required per day to support your baby’s growth, easily obtainable from lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs or dairy products.
  • Folate – Plays an essential role in reducing the risks of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Food sources include fortified breakfast cereals, green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, fruits and legumes. A supplement is advisable.
  • Calcium – Required for the development of your baby’s skeleton. An extra dairy serve every day will provide the additional 300mg of calcium required.
  • Iron – Important for your stores plus those of your baby. An extra 10-20mg is required daily, which means eating plenty of lean red meat, liver and kidney, as well as fortified breads and cereals, green leafy vegetables, with vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables to ensure maximal iron absorption.
  • Fibre – To combat common problems such as constipation, ensure you consume plenty of wholegrain breads and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables and drink lots of water.
  • Omega-3 fats – Important for the development of your baby’s brain, omega 3 fats are found in fish, such as tuna, salmon and sardines, as well as canola oil, linseeds and walnuts. There has been concerns raised about high mercury levels in some deep sea fish (salmon and tuna) that have the highest levels of these oils. An excellent alternative for those who'd rather not risk it is to take one half to one tablespoon of Eskimo 3 fish oil. This is a special form of fish oil that actually tastes good (most do not), and has been tested to make sure that it does not have mercury or other problematic compounds.

Are there any foods I should avoid?

Some foods may carry a risk of Listeria bacteria. These foods must be avoided during pregnancy. Eat only freshly prepared food and avoid high risk foods, including pre-cooked meat products which are eaten without further heating, such as pate, sliced deli meat and cooked chicken. Also avoid soft cheeses such as brie, camembert and ricotta; ready-to-eat seafood including smoked fish and mussels; pre-prepared salads; ready-to-eat foods which have been stored in the fridge for more than one day.