See your doctor or midwife as soon as possible
As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, get in touch with your GP or a midwife to organise your antenatal care. Organising your care early means you’ll get good advice for a healthy pregnancy right from the start. You’ll also have plenty of time to organise any ultrasound scans and tests that you may need.
Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet whenever you can. Try to have:
At least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
Plenty of carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta and rice, as the basis of your meals. Choose wholegrain carbohydrates rather than white, so you get plenty of fibre.
Daily servings of protein, such as fish, lean meat, eggs, nuts or pulses, and some milk and dairy foods.
Two portions of fish a week, at least one of which should be oily. Fish is packed with protein, vitamin D, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the development of your baby’s nervous system.
You don’t need to eat for two when you’re pregnant. You don’t need extra calories for the first six months of pregnancy. In the last three months you’ll need about an extra 200 calories a day. You can keep up your energy levels with healthy snacks.
Take a supplement
Pregnancy vitamin supplements aren’t a substitute for a balanced diet. But they can help if you’re worried you’re not eating well, or you’re too sick to eat much.
Make sure your supplement contains 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. You need this while you’re trying for a baby and for the first three months of pregnancy. Taking folic acid reduces the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.
Also, check that your supplement contains 10mcg of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for your baby’s future bone health.
Talk to your GP or a pharmacist before taking an antenatal supplement. If you don’t take a multivitamin for pregnant women, you can buy folic acid and vitamin D supplements separately.
If you’re on a low income, you might be able to get pregnancy vitamin supplements free of charge under the government’s healthy start scheme. Go to www.healthystart.nhs.uk for more information.
If you don’t eat fish, fish oil supplements may be helpful. Choose a supplement made from the body of the fish, not the liver. This is because fish liver oils (such as cod liver oil) may contain the retinol form of vitamin A, which isn’t recommended in pregnanc
Be careful about food hygiene
There are some foods it’s safest not to eat in pregnancy. This is because they can carry a health risk for your baby.
Listeriosis is an infection caused by listeria bacteria. It’s rare and doesn’t usually pose a threat to your health. However, it can cause pregnancy or birth complications. Listeriosis can even lead to miscarriage.
The following foods may harbour listeria and so are best avoided:
pate of any type
undercooked ready meals
soft, mould-ripened cheeses, such as brie
blue-veined cheeses, such as roquefort
As listeria bacteria are destroyed by heat, make sure you heat ready meals thoroughly.
Salmonella bacteria can cause food poisoning. You can catch it from eating:
raw or undercooked meat