Summary

  • A pregnant woman should eat a range of foods to obtain all the nutrients and minerals that are important for a growing baby.
  • Food safety is very important when you are pregnant.
  • Some foods should be avoided during pregnancy as they carry bacteria that could harm your unborn baby.
  • Alcohol should also be avoided during pregnancy as it can harm your unborn baby.

The importance of good nutrition


A pregnant woman needs to look after her health with good food so the unborn baby can grow and develop well. Healthy eating also helps pregnant women to cope with the extra demands on their bodies from being pregnant. This does not mean that she needs to eat for two. What matters is the quality of what she eats, not the quantity.

Foods that give pregnant women important nutrients


A pregnant woman should eat a range of foods to get all the nutrients and minerals that are important for a growing baby including:
healthy-eating-green-leafy-veg
Folate – helps to prevent birth defects. It can be found in green leafy vegetables, baked beans, some breakfast cereals, oranges, strawberries and bananas. Folate tablets are recommended if you are thinking of getting pregnant and for the first three months of pregnancy

Iron – is needed to make extra blood for both mother and baby. You can get iron from lean meat, kangaroo, chicken and baked beans. You may also need to take iron tablets while you are pregnant (ask your doctor).
healthy-eating-dairy
Iodine – is important for the baby’s brain development. You can get iodine from eggs, meat, bread, dairy and fish. If you use salt, the best choice is iodised salt.

Keeping food safe


Food safety is very important when you are pregnant. This is because bacteria in food that are not normally harmful can cause miscarriages or other problems for your unborn baby.

To avoid any problems, make sure that you always:
  • Wash your hands before handling food
  • Wash fruit and vegetables before you cook or eat them
  • Eat freshly prepared foods
  • Heat food until it is steaming hot.

Foods a pregnant woman should avoid


Some foods are more likely to carry bacteria. These foods should be avoided during pregnancy and include:
healthy-eating-soft-cheese
Soft cheese such as brie, camembert, ricotta or feta healthy-eating-meat
Raw or undercooked meat, fish or eggs
healthy-eating-softserve-icecream
Soft-serve ice cream. healthy-eating-chicken
Cold cooked chicken
healthy-eating-sushi
Cold smoked meat or fish healthy-eating-pate
Pate
healthy-eating-milk
Unpasteurised milk (milk that has not been heated to destroy bacteria) healthy-eating-salad
Pre-prepared salads
Alcohol should also be avoided during pregnancy because it can harm your unborn baby.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Victorian Aboriginal Health Services Tel. (03) 9419 3000 or 132 660 (after hours)
  • Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Tel. (03) 9411 9411
  • Dieticians Association of Australia Tel. 1800 812 942

Things to remember

  • A pregnant woman should eat a range of foods to obtain all the nutrients and minerals that are important for a growing baby.
  • Food safety is very important when you are pregnant.
  • Some foods should be avoided during pregnancy as they carry bacteria that could harm your unborn baby.
  • Alcohol should also be avoided during pregnancy as it can harm your unborn baby.
References
  • Tucker talk tips – tucker for your ticker, 2010, Tucker talk tips: healthy eating and physical activity tip sheets, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation. More information here.
  • Koolin Balit: strategic directions, Strategic directions for Aboriginal health 2012–2022, Department of Health Victoria. More information here.

More information

Pregnancy and birth services topics

The following content is displayed as Tabs. Once you have activated a link navigate to the end of the list to view its associated content. The activated link is defined as Active Tab

Content Partner

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services - Aboriginal health

Last updated: April 2015

Page content currently being reviewed.

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.