Dietary Advice When I’m Pregnant

Did you know the diet during pregnancy does more than just keep you healthy? It can shape your baby's future, too. It's amazing but true: choosing the right foods can help your baby grow strong and reduce their risk of getting sick later in life.

But figuring out what to eat and what to avoid can be confusing with all the advice out there. We understand it's a lot to think about, especially when you're dealing with pregnancy worries. So, we're here to help with clear, straightforward advice. 

Why is the diet important when I’m pregnant?

Food and nutrition provide the building blocks of life, and therefore, are especially important during pregnancy. The maternal diet directly impacts the growth and development of the infant. We know that diets lacking key nutrients can result in serious birth complications and even preterm birth or miscarriage. Proper nutrition during pregnancy is vital to setting up both mother and baby for success after birth. Habits created during pregnancy can also help mothers improve their health and well-being long after delivery.

Your diet can affect the health of the baby and can also influence a baby's health into adulthood. If a growing baby is inadequately nourished in the womb, this increases the risk of allergies, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure in adulthood.

The increase in the number of children with a food allergy in recent decades has led to the suggestion that a mother's diet during pregnancy may be a key factor in determining a child's risk of developing a food allergy. 

Do I need to avoid anything during pregnancy?

Many studies have suggested that consuming allergenic foods (such as peanut, hen's egg) during pregnancy reduces the risk of your child developing an allergy. Therefore, it is not recommended that mothers avoid allergenic foods during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. There is also a lack of consistent evidence to suggest that other aspects of the diet, such as eating fruit and vegetables, fish, or particular fats or fatty acids, could reduce the risk of a child developing an allergy. So, it is important not to restrict your diet during pregnancy, as this may negatively affect your and/or your baby’s nutrition.

It has also been suggested that consuming some supplements during pregnancy, such as probiotics, may reduce the risk of your child developing a food allergy. However, the evidence to support this is limited and guidelines make no specific recommendations about the use of probiotics or other supplements during pregnancy to reduce the chance of your baby developing an allergy.

If you’re worried about allergies it is important to remember that:

Three factors are involved in the development of allergic disease:

  • Family history (genetics)
  • Exposure to allergens
  • Environmental conditions

The general rule of thumb is that you should eat a healthy diet that includes five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. A well-balanced nutritious diet will give you and your baby the nutrients you both need for a healthy pregnancy.

Pregnant mothers-to-be with food intolerances, or those who are restricting certain food groups from their diet, will need to give careful consideration to their nutrition during their pregnancy. Observing healthy eating guidelines will be important to ensure the right nutrients are being consumed.

If you have an intolerance or allergy it may be worthwhile asking your GP or appointed paediatrician if you can be referred to a dietician (with appropriate knowledge on allergy) for support and help to put together a suitable eating plan. 

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