Eating safely and well during pregnancy

It’s always important to eat healthy food – but especially during pregnancy. Find out about healthy food and drink choices, healthy weight gain and food safety during pregnancy.

Healthy kai
Eat a range of healthy foods

To keep you and your growing baby healthy and well you need to eat a range of healthy foods from the 4 main food groups every day.

The 4 main food groups are:

  1. vegetables and fruit - eat at least 7 servings per day of vegetables and fruit – at least 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit
  2. breads and cereals (wholegrain is best) - eat at least 8 servings of bread and cereal each day
  3. milk and milk products (reduced- or low-fat milk is best) - eat at least 2 servings each day of milk or milk products, preferably reduced- or low-fat products
  4. lean meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, legumes (beans, lentils and peas), nuts and seeds - eat at least 3 servings each day.

To find out more, including serving sizes and healthy food choices during pregnancy, see Eating for healthy pregnant women.

A healthy diet is important during pregnancy. But you can’t always get everything that you and your baby need from food. Find out about folic acid and iodine tablets and how to get enough vitamin D.

Drink plenty of fluid

Drink when you are thirsty. Try to drink at least 9 cups of fluid each day. Water or reduced- or low-fat milk are the best choices.

You may need more fluid when it’s hot, after you have exercised and if you are vomiting (throwing up) or constipated (when you have 3 or fewer bowel movements [poos/tuutae] in a week). If you are throwing up, fluid may be more easily taken by sucking on ice blocks or having clear soups.

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of changes in your body. It’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy due to the growth of the baby, the whenua/afterbirth and fluid around the baby.

While there is no exact healthy weight gain, thin women may need to gain more weight and overweight women less. Talk to your midwife or specialist doctor if you are concerned about your weight gain.

You can expect to eat more food as the pregnancy progresses, but this does not mean that you need to ‘eat for two’. A good appetite and a steady weight gain, especially after the first 3 months, will usually mean that you are eating enough.

Dieting during pregnancy is not recommended because your baby may be less healthy, and it could also affect your health.

To find out how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy, download Healthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy (PDF, 448 KB). You can track your weight gain by downloading and printing this record card (PDF, 279 KB).

Food safety

In pregnancy your immunity is lower than usual, so you and your unborn baby are more at risk of the kinds of food-borne illnesses that affect everyone.

To keep you and your baby healthy:

  • wash and dry your hands thoroughly
  • be food smart: clean, cook, chill
  • avoid high-risk foods.

For more information and the most up-to-date list of high-risk foods to avoid, see the Ministry for Primary Industries’ food safety resource Food safety and pregnancy. You can also call MPI Food Safety on 0800 693 721 or talk to your midwife or specialist doctor.

Related website

Safe and healthy eating in pregnancy – HealthEd (Te Whatu Ora and Ministry of Health)
Food information for pregnant women. Includes food for a healthy mother and baby, dietary variety, drinking plenty of fluids, foods low in fat, salt and sugar, keeping active, food safety and listeria, salmonella, campylobacter and toxoplasma, snack and lunch ideas, eating well during pregnancy, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, alcohol, being smokefree, folic acid, iodine and vitamin D.

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