Ask our midwife...about a healthy diet in pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an exciting but confusing time, with a huge amount of conflicting advice about what you should and shouldn't do. So today we're excited to introduce our brand new feature, Ask our midwife.

We've posed our midwife Summaya the most commonly asked questions around health in pregnancy, and she'll be answering them in a series of posts over the coming months.

First up is a very important topic to expectant mums; having a healthy diet during pregnancy.

So how do you make sure you have a healthy diet in when you're expecting, and what foods should you eat and avoid during this time?

Over to Summaya...

A healthy diet is very important in pregnancy, as it helps with your baby's growth and development and also helps you to stay well.

You do not have to go on any particular diets once pregnant, but you should aim to have a healthy varied diet to get the nutrients that you and you baby require. Studies have shown that extra specific nutrients such as folic acid and vitamin D may be necessary before and during pregnancy. Taking a pregnancy supplement, such as Pregnacare, will help safeguard your dietary requirements throughout pregnancy.

However, there are some foods that we will encourage you to avoid whilst pregnant as it can harm you and/or the baby:

What cheese can I eat - and what should I avoid?

  • Do not eat soft or mould-ripened cheeses such as Camembert
  • Do not eat soft blue vein cheeses such as Danish Blue

This is because these types of cheeses are made with mould which may contain listeria, a bacteria that can harm the baby. Although listeriosis is a rare infection, women that are pregnant or trying to conceive should avoid and take precautions as even mild forms of this infection can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects.

  • You can eat hard cheeses such as cheddar and cheeses made from pasteurised milk such as mozzarella
  • The NHS website currently states that you can eat Stilton when pregnant
  • The NHS website also states that you can eat cooked Brie and soft blue cheese as long as it is thoroughly cooked and steaming hot all the way through.

What about eating pâté when I'm pregnant?

All pâtés are to be avoided including vegetable pâtés again due to the risk of listeria and the risks mentioned above.
What else should I be watching out for?
  • Liver products: All liver products contain vitamin A and should therefore be avoided as too much vitamin A is harmful to your unborn baby. Please ensure that you also check that your pregnancy supplement is free of vitamin A (TalkMum note: Pregnacare does not contain vitamin A)
  • Raw or uncooked meat: Cook all poultry and meat thoroughly ensuring no traces of blood. It is fine to eat steak and whole cuts of beef and lamb rare but the outside must be properly cooked and sealed.
  • Some types of fish: Do not eat fish like marlin and limit the amount of tuna you eat to no more than about 140g cooked or 170g raw (no more than 2 tuna steaks per week or 4 medium canned of tuna) as these types of fish contain high amounts of mercury which can have an effect on your babies nervous system. Do not eat more than two portions of oily fish per week i.e. fresh tuna (not canned tuna), salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout.
  • Raw sellfish: Eat cooked rather than raw shellfish as they can contain harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause food poisoning.
  • Unpasteurised milk: Drink only pasteurised milk and not unpasteurised goats' or sheep's milk or foods made out of them such as soft goats' cheese.

And finally, I've heard a lot of conflicting advice about peanuts - should I be avoiding them?

If you would like to eat peanuts or foods containing peanuts such as peanut butter you can choose to do so as part of a healthy balanced diet unless you are allergic to them or your healthcare professional has advised you otherwise. You may have heard in the past women were advised to avoid peanuts whilst pregnant, this was because the government previously advised against it.

Many thanks to Summaya! Do you have any questions about health in pregnancy? Let us know for our next update.

We will be at The Baby Show at Excel, London this weekend, from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd. Come along and ask a midwife your questions at the Pregnacare stand H21. We look forward to seeing you at the show.

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