When you're expecting, it's vital that you have a balanced diet to keep you healthy and to support the growth of your baby.
However, the guidance on what you can and can't eat when pregnant can be a bit confusing. Here are our tips to make it easier for you.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy not only helps your baby grow healthily and gives them the best start in life, but also helps you stay healthy, too.
You don't need to go on a special diet or spend loads of money on food. Instead, your diet should be balanced and consist of the following:
Eat at least five portions a day. It doesn't always have to be fresh veg - frozen, canned, dried or juiced also counts, and sometimes it's even better than fresh. Just be sure to avoid anything with added sugar or salt, such as fruit in syrup, and remember that while one glass of juice counts as a portion of fruit, any further juice portions do not count towards your five-a-day.
These are important for energy, certain vitamins and fibre. They include bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, noodles and breakfast cereals. Choose wholemeal rather than white where possible.
Foods in this group - which includes meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts - provide you with what your baby needs to grow. You should aim to have two portions of fish each week, one of which should ideally be oily fish, such as sardines, salmon or mackerel.
Foods such as , cheese and yoghurt are rich in calcium and contain other essential nutrients. The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) says it's best to go for low-fat varieties, such as semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurts and reduced-fat hard cheese. Dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts, should be unsweetened and calcium-fortified.
The saying that you need to 'eat for two' when pregnant is a myth. You should eat the amount of food that you normally would, even if you're expecting twins or more.
This can be surprisingly generous if you use the calories wisely, for example:
Not all cheeses are safe to eat during pregnancy, but the following are fine:
Pasteurised milk and cream are perfectly fine to have in pregnancy, as are yoghurts sold in UK shops, supermarkets and restaurants.
produced under the British Lion Code of Practice adhere to strict hygiene and welfare standards and are therefore safe to eat - whether they're cooked, lightly cooked or raw. This also includes most shop-bought mayonnaises and dressings from large retailers because these contain pasteurised eggs. Check the label to make sure.
Non-British eggs can be eaten but should be cooked until the whites and yolks are solid to kill any salmonella bacteria.
Apart from the fish outlined in the 'Foods to avoid in pregnancy' section (below), fish is a great source of nutrients during your pregnancy.
If you are eating meat or poultry, make sure it's cooked well so there's no pink meat or blood left (no rare steaks, for example). Poultry, such as chicken or turkey, pork, sausages and minced meat (including meatballs and burgers) should be cooked thoroughly.
It's fine to eat cold cooked meats, such as chicken, beef and turkey, or pre-packed meats, such as ham, but check the label for salt levels and choose ones that are lowest in salt if possible.
Pregnant women used to be advised to avoid peanuts during pregnancy if there was a history of allergies in their immediate family because it was thought this might increase a baby's chance of developing a peanut allergy.
However, research now suggests this isn't the case. If you want to, you can eat peanuts or foods containing them (such as peanut butter), unless you are allergic to them.
Raw eggs from this list may still have been used in recipes such as restaurant-made or homemade soufflés, mousses, mayonnaises and some ice creams, so check if they have been made using UK Lion eggs.
While some cheese is safe to eat during pregnancy, others should be avoided, including:
The reason these should be avoided is that they can contain listeria bacteria that can cause listeriosis, which is extremely serious in pregnancy. It's fine if these cheeses have been cooked all the way through as this kills any bacteria.
Pasteurisation kills bacteria and prevents food poisoning by heat-treating the food. If you use unpasteurised or 'raw' milk (whether it's cows', goats' or sheep) and 'raw' cream sold in places such as farmers markets and farm shops when pregnant, you might end up getting ill.
In England, unpasteurised milk and cream must carry a warning saying they've not been heat-treated and may contain harmful bacteria, while in Wales additional warning must be given for vulnerable groups (including pregnant women). Drinking raw milk and cream is banned in Scotland.
Some fish need to be avoided altogether when you're pregnant, while others need to be limited or eaten with care.
Raw and undercooked meat can contain parasites that cause toxoplasmosis, so it's best to avoid them.
Raw cured meats, such as parma ham (prosciutto), salami, chorizo and pepperoni, should also be avoided during pregnancy. At home, cooking these meats can help, and freezing cured or fermented meats for four days will reduce the risk from parasites. However, when you're eating out, you won't always be able to confirm whether meats have gone through the freezing process, so you might want to avoid them to be on the safe side.
Liver and products made from liver can contain high levels of vitamin A, which could harm your baby, so they should be avoided altogether. Pâté should also be avoided as it may contain listeria bacteria, which can cause listeriosis.
It's important to keep hydrated during pregnancy for both you and your developing baby's health. However, some beverages should be consumed in lower levels than others.
As well as in coffee, caffeine can be found in tea, green tea, chocolate, some sports and energy drinks, and some cold and flu remedies. Very high levels of caffeine in pregnancy have been linked to low birth weight in babies, as well as there being a slight risk of caffeine causing miscarriage.
Caffeine intake should be limited to around 200mg per day - roughly two mugs of instant coffee - but if you occasionally drink more than this you shouldn't worry as the risks are very small.
As well as some of these containing caffeine (such as cola drinks), fizzy drinks or drinks labelled 'juice drinks' should be kept to a minimum as they are high in sugar.
The UK's Chief Medical Officer recommends: 'If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum. Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink the greater the risk.'
If you've only drunk a small amount of alcohol before you knew you were pregnant or during pregnancy, the risk of harm to your baby is likely to be low, but you should avoid further drinking and talk to your doctor or midwife if you are worried.
Although these might strike you as harmless because they're natural, the fact is there's lots we don't know about the safety of these infusions in pregnancy.
The Food Standards Agency suggests drinking no more than four cups a day and to stick to those made with ingredients you'd normally find in your diet, such as blackcurrant or mint. If you're unsure, speak to your GP or midwife.
It's very common to have sickness and nausea - morning sickness - in your first trimester, but it can also continue throughout the pregnancy.
In most cases, it passes by the time you're 16 to 20 weeks pregnant. Although it can be unpleasant (and can occur at any time of the day), in most cases it doesn't put you or your baby at risk.
The best advice is to stay hydrated and to eat a little bit of food when you can to stay well nourished.
Around 1-2% of expectant mothers develop a severe form of pregnancy sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum that may lead to dehydration and malnourishment - sometimes requiring specialist treatment or even hospitalisation.
You should be able to get most of the vitamins and minerals you need in pregnancy by eating a balanced diet. However, if you're pregnant or there's a chance you might get pregnant, you'll also need the following:
A pregnancy multivitamin should contain both of these at the recommended levels, but check the label before you buy and check with your pharmacist if you're unsure.
Don't take cod liver oil or supplements containing vitamin A (retinol) when you're pregnant, as too much vitamin A could cause your baby harm.
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet you need to ensure you're getting enough of the vital vitamins and minerals needed to support your health and that of your growing baby, including vitamin B12, iron and calcium, as well as vitamin D.
B12 sources for vegetarians include yoghurt, milk, cheese and eggs, whereas vegan sources of B12 only tend to be found in fortified breakfast cereals, fortified dairy alternatives and yeast extracts with B12 added.
The BNF says you could always take a B12 supplement if you're not getting enough (check with your midwife or doctor first).
Iron for vegans can be found in chickpeas, lentils and other pulses, fortified breakfast cereals, tofu, sprouted beans and seeds, dried apricots and figs and wholemeal, seeded and wheatgerm bread.
Calcium for vegetarians - vital for bones and teeth - can be found in dairy foods. For vegans it's in dairy alternatives, breakfast cereals, oranges, kale, grains, bread and broccoli.
As a result, you should consider taking a supplement containing 10 micrograms per day, particularly from October until the end of March. Vegans should check the label to make sure their vitamin D is suitable for their diet.