Eating and Pregnancy : what should you know?

Ok, that’s it, the pregnancy test is finally positive! Maïa Baudelaire and her team would like to congratulate you! Now, are you ready to live the next 9 months in the best possible way? Well, to ensure you are a healthy Mum with a beautiful baby, let’s first of all, take a look at your kitchen cupboards to sort a few things out. Ok, let’s go, I’ll explain everything you’ll need to know, both for you and your baby, and everything you’ll have to say goodbye to during the next 9 months. Moreover, I’ll explain WHY (yes, we know you’re dying to know)!

Eat better, eat for two?

Even before the first symptoms of pregnancy, you have probably heard the old adage of having to “eat for two during your pregnancy”. NO ! NO! NEIN! NE ! (Have you got it?). Do you really believe that a little shrimp living in your uterus needs as many calories as you do? While it’s true, it needs a lot of energy to grow, nature is well constructed, so your body adapts and redistributes the food intake between you and your baby. It is not necessarily a question of eating more. It is estimated, you should add a caloric intake of about 200 to 300kcal / day on average throughout your pregnancy. In other words, the equivalent of a natural yogurt, a Golden Apple or 10g of almonds. Nothing like a doubling of portions …

Nevertheless, if there is one thing to do before and during pregnancy, it is to eat healthy! If you feel that your diet is a little lawless, this might be a good time to take advantage of these months to restore some sort of order in your diet. Be aware that too much blood sugar and an excessive weight gain during pregnancy increases the risk of childhood obesity by 28.5% and 16.4% respectively (1).

Your first goals are to eat balanced: 3 meals a day, 2 snacks, and meals well distributed throughout the day. If this is all ok with you, let’s move on!

What can a pregnant woman eat?

Nothing is too complicated: you must eat from all the food categories to ensure you don’t miss anything. Let’s look at them case by case!

Fruits and vegetables

You will not get away with it, even less so being pregnant: you need to consume at least five fruits and vegetables a day. They are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals and high fibre content that will help you fight against the very glamorous condition of constipation, which so many pregnant women suffer from.

Take advantage of green leafy vegetables that are rich in vitamin B9. An adequate intake of these will protect you against preterm, possible stunting and it is also extremely efficient at reducing the risk of abnormal neural tube formation (Spinabifida) in a very simple way, by ensuring the proper development of the brain in your child. So, of course, supplementation is now mandatory, but also simply look for it at the source because its effects are even more effective thanks to interactions with other nutrients!

Cereals products

Grain products should form the basis of your energy intake. Choose starchy foods made from whole grain flour, which are rich in fibre, and if possible, consume them in every meal. These will help you to avoid feeling floppy and to get the maximum quantity of vitamins and minerals possible, especially magnesium, which is very important for the growth of your baby. Magnesium deficiency can lead to problems with foetal development or premature birth (6), so do not neglect whole grains.

Dairy products

You don’t have to necessary increase its consumption but its important that you have 3 dairy products per day to ensure you get sufficient calcium and vitamin D as your baby will very discreetly take yours to ensure it has his own strong bones.

Meat and fish

Protein is indispensable for your baby’s development and for the maintenance of Mum’s muscle mass. It’s therefore essential to keep consuming it!

Meat and fish provide iron, essential during pregnancy. Iron deficiency is quite common, but during pregnancy, it has far greater consequences as it can lead to a premature birth and a baby with a low birth weight (3).

The iodine contained in fish is also a very important nutrient. It is therefore paramount to avoid deficiencies to avoid abnormalities of foetal development (4). Fatty fish also provides good fats, so consume it twice a week.

Finally, meat and fish are also rich in zinc, a trace element essential for foetal growth (5) and selenium, essential to protect you and your baby from external aggressions by strengthening your immune system.

Fats

Do not be afraid to put on weight because of your olive oil vinaigrettes. On the contrary, unsaturated fatty acids contained in vegetable oils have an important role a diet future mother’s diet because the Omega 3 and Omega 6 present have an active role in the neuronal development of your baby. Sufficient Omega 3 intake during pregnancy would lead to superior cognitive and visual development and also reduce the risk of premature birth (2). So fill your cupboards with either  Rapeseed or Linseed Oil!

Prohibited foods during pregnancy

Let’s come to what probably interests you the most: what are the forbidden foods for a pregnant woman?

Lightened products rich in sweeteners

First one into the trash can: throw away all your 0% products! The consumption of drinks rich in sweeteners could i be associated with an increase in the risk of childhood obesity … (7). Therefore, chose fresh fruit juice over lightened sodas.

Fish rich in mercury

In that dreaded category of “toxic for my baby” I’d put mercury! Known for its neurotoxic effects, we should limit our consumption of fish like anchovy, capelin, hake or herring!

Sweet products

As you can imagine, and it will be worthwhile remembering even when you have a baby in your arms: limit the excessive consumption of sweet products! This way you will avoid too much glucose changes and unnecessary weight gain.

Alcohol and energy drinks

No need to describe the effects, alcohol causes neurodevelopment disorders in children so abstain for a few months!

Products likely to transmit listeriosis

Aaaah the famous listeriosis, this disease caused by Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium which is responsible for miscarriages and premature births … perfect for nightmares, right? And for good reason, it is easily transmitted from the mother to the foetus and causes foetal death in 25 to 35% of cases. So from our delicatessen shopping list, let’s cross off rillette, pâtés, products with raw milk, soft cheeses and blue cheeses, raw fish, raw eggs (mayonnaise included!). Now that should save some shopping time, eh?

Products likely to transmit toxoplasmosis

In the same vein, we should be extremely aware of toxoplasmosis. This disease can come to haunt non-immunised future mothers. Linked to an infection caused by a parasite, it can lead to miscarriages, neurological disturbances and serious eye abnormalities. So avoid low cooked meats, badly washed raw vegetables, and separate raw from the cooked products, and maintain impeccable hygiene!

If you are not sure about something, and you are feeling a bit lost, do not panic, we are here to follow your pregnancy and to manage your diet and pregnancy together. Again, it’s all about dietary balance so once you get off the list of foods to avoid, and you understand the basics of dietary balance, you can get the best out of your pregnancy. Everything will be fine, we promise!


  1. Hillier, T. A., Pedula, K. L., Vesco, K. K., Oshiro, C. E., & Ogasawara, K. K. (2016). Impact of maternal glucose and gestational weight gain on child obesity over the first decade of life in normal birth weight infants. Maternal and child health journal20(8), 1559-1568.
  2. Koletzko, B., Lien, E., Agostoni, C., Böhles, H., Campoy, C., Cetin, I., … & Hoesli, I. (2008). The roles of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in pregnancy, lactation and infancy: review of current knowledge and consensus recommendations. Journal of perinatal medicine, 36(1), 5-14.
  3. Allen, L. H. (2000). Anemia and iron deficiency: effects on pregnancy outcome–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 71(5), 1280S-1284S
  4. Delange, F. (2001). Iodine deficiency as a cause of brain damage. 
  5. Favier, M., & Hininger-Favier, I. (2005). Zinc et grossesse. Gynécologie obstétrique & fertilité, 33(4), 253-258. :
  6. Dalton, L. M., Ní Fhloinn, D. M., Gaydadzhieva, G. T., Mazurkiewicz, O. M., Leeson, H., & Wright, C. P. (2016). Magnesium in pregnancy. Nutrition reviews, 74(9), 549-557. :
  7. Ali, F. (2017). Consumption of artificial sweeteners in pregnancy increased overweight risk in infants. Archives of Disease in Childhood-Education and Practice, 102(5), 277-277. 

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