When you are pregnant, your body forms a growing baby and lays down extra stores for breast feeding later on. As well as needing extra fuel for your own body and your growing baby, more nutrients are required for the increased tissues of the uterus, placenta and blood cells. You may notice your appetite increases to ensure you eat enough for you and your baby. This doesn’t mean you need to eat for two! In fact, gaining too much weight when you’re pregnant may cause pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and a larger baby.
In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, you generally don’t need any extra food than usual, just try to eat a variety of nutritious foods every day.
You'll need to eat a little extra food over the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, but choose nutritious foods to ensure you achieve a healthy weight gain during pregnancy that is within the recommendations provided by your health professional.
If you started your pregnancy at a healthy weight, although you don’t need to start counting calories, the extra energy you need each day is around 1400kJ in your 2nd trimester, and 1900kJ in your 3rd trimester.
Here are some examples of the extra food you need to eat each day, just choose one per day, in addition to your normal diet:
- Handful of raw nuts & 1 piece of wholegrain toast topped with edam cheese
- Large banana & a fruit yoghurt
- Homemade egg and salad sandwich & a small packet of raisins
- One cup of vegetable soup & 2 slices of wholegrain toast with margarine spread
- Small date scone & a low fat hot chocolate drink
- 3 wheat biscuits with 200mL low-fat milk & a small sliced banana
- Large handful of nuts & an orange & 3 crackers topped with low-fat cheese slices
- Homemade egg and salad sandwich & a fruit yoghurt
- Cheese and tomato toasted sandwich & an apple
- Large bowl of natural muesli with chopped fruit and nuts, topped with low-fat milk & natural yoghurt
- Mixed berry, milk and yoghurt smoothie & 2 slices of fruit toast with margarine spread.
As you can see, you don't need to 'eat for two,' but a little extra nutritious food each day will make sure you keep up the energy and nutrients needed for your growing baby!
Remember gaining an appropriate amount of weight is a normal part of pregnancy and helps to achieve a healthy outcome for you and your baby. An appropriate weight gain during pregnancy, if you have a healthy weight Body Mass Index (BMI) before becoming pregnant, is approximately 11.5kg to 16kg, but can vary significantly from one woman to another. If you were underweight before pregnancy, you may need to gain more weight. If you were overweight, then you may need to gain less. Talk to your midwife or doctor about the right amount of weight to gain during pregnancy, this amount is different for every person.
Ministry of Health. 2020. Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults. Updated 2020. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand (Including Recommended Dietary Intakes). Revised 2017. Australian Government Department of Health and New Zealand Ministry of Health.
The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.