Nutrition during pregnancy: the do's & don'ts!

Yippie yay! You're pregnant! We celebrate that with … yes with what exactly? A glass? Nope! A small cheese platter then? Its a shame, but there is nothing to do about it! A little water, then? Well, start with that and read on to know more about all the do's & don'ts in terms of nutrition during your pregnancy!  


You want the very best for your child, and you do that by laying a good foundation for your baby's health.

And that basis starts with a healthy, varied, balanced diet during your pregnancy. During this period, your body needs the right nutrients for the growth of your baby.

What is the best thing to eat during your pregnancy?

  • Fruits & vegetables: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Try to bring enough variation into this and get seasonal vegetables and fruit at home.
  • Proteins: Alternate meat and fish with vegetable protein sources such as lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu and seitan for example.
  • Whole wheat: Opt for a whole grain variety of bread, pasta and rice as often as possible.
  • Sugars: Limit fast sugars such as candy, cookies and soda as much as possible.
  • Calcium: Eat calcium-rich products every day, such as dairy products, calcium-enriched vegetable alternatives, green vegetables, ... So feel free to eat that extra slice of cheese 😉 Cheese contains both calcium and vitamin D. Be careful with raw, unpasteurized cheeses! You can recognize this because it says on the packaging: 'with raw milk' or 'au lait cru'. These can contain listeria and cause a serious infection during your pregnancy. Usually these are French cheeses such as brie and mold cheeses. But also with mozzarella and burrata you should look closely at the packaging.
  • Nuts: Eat a handful of nuts, seeds and kernels every day.
  • Fats: Choose vegetable fats as often as possible.
  • Vitamin A: Do not eat liver-based products such as pate or liver sausage. These contain too high doses of vitamin A, which is harmful to your baby.

Did someone already tell you that you can now eat for two? Um, put that second pack of chips back. You don't have to eat for two at all. At least not in quantity. It is especially important that you eat a varied diet. Sorry

Just like you, your baby needs carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. It can only get this from your diet. By varying with vegetables and fruit, you can be sure that you have enough of all the necessary nutrients. As a woman, you normally need about 2000 kcal per day. During your pregnancy (and especially at the end) this increases by a maximum of 400 kcal. That is one extra slice of bread or one extra jar of yogurt. So put it out of your head for two


Drink a lot during your pregnancy! Drink at least 1,5 liters of water, and possibly also vegetable juice / soup. Also try to drink enough milk or (non-sweetened) liquid yogurt, about 0,5 liters per day.

You certainly don't have to completely kick your cappuccinos and lattes, but try to limit your coffee intake to one cup a day. Be careful with other sources of caffeine, such as cola and energy drinks. You can also drink tea, but replace it with herbal tea, for example.

Avoid beer, wine and spirits. Alcohol during your pregnancy is strongly discouraged! Also, take it easy with soft drinks and fruit juices. These contain too much sugar.

Contamination risk

You've probably heard of it, but foodborne infections (toxoplasmosis and listeriosis) can pose a risk to your baby during your pregnancy. If all goes well, a blood test will tell you whether or not you are immune to toxoplasmosis. Unfortunately, there is no blood test for listeriosis, so keep that in mind.

General tips:

  • To avoid listeria:
    * avoid raw milk cheeses.
    * make sure that meat, fish and shellfish are well done.
    * you will find an easy, clear and well-arranged list of what you can and cannot eat to avoid listeria here
  • Toxoplasmosis: Always wash vegetables that you eat raw.
  • If you don't want to risk salmonella, make sure your eggs are hard-boiled or fully fried. (I personally didn't concern myself with that, because it poses no danger to your baby. You can feel pretty bad if you get salmonella, but the baby is hardly at risk) 


During your pregnancy it can be a good idea to take supplements, extra vitamins.

Take a daily supplement of 20 µg of vitamin D. This ensures strong bones, both for you and your baby. Normally you get this from sunlight, dairy products and oily fish. But if it turns out that you don't get enough sun, or if you eat little dairy and fish, for example, a supplement can give you an extra boost. Calcium is also necessary for strong bones (and teeth). You don't necessarily have to take a supplement for this, but do take some extra cheese, milk and yogurt.

Also take a supplement of 50-100 µg iodine daily. This ensures proper functioning of the thyroid gland.

Also have your iron level in your blood tested, and top it up if necessary. Iron is in meat, wholemeal bread, vegetables and fruits.

Note: When choosing an all-in-one supplement, make sure you choose one that is specifically formulated for pregnant women. The general supplement may contain too high a dose of vitamin A, which can be harmful to your baby.

And what about….?

Are you unsure about a particular food? Please contact your doctor, midwife or dietician.



It's a lot of information, I know! That's why I made an infographic for you, with food triangle and all ;) You can print it and hang it on your fridge as a reminder.

Enter your first name & email address here to download the infographic.


    Dietitian and fertility coach Silke Desaever – - @dietistesilkedesaever

    UZA & UZ Leuven