A healthy balanced diet is important for a healthy lifestyle but is even more important while pregnant to get the right nutrients for you and your baby.

While a balanced diet is the best way to get vitamins and minerals, you will also need to take a folic acid supplement when you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

The Eatwell Guide from the NHS is a fantastic resource to get the balance of your diet right. It shows you how much of what you eat should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. You don't need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get the balance right over a week.

Morning sickness (or all day sickness for some!) can affect the amount and type of foods you can eat. To try and continue a balanced diet throughout the first trimester (and possibly beyond try these tips:

  • Eat little and often
  • Try and avoid fatty foods which are harder to digest.
  • Ginger can help calm nausea
  • Keep healthy snacks on you so you can nibble when you feel able

Throughout pregnancy you may notice you suffer more from constipation. You can combat this by eating wholegrain foods where possible and increasing your fluid intake.

Later on in your pregnancy, indigestion and heartburn are common. Some of the same tips for combatting morning sickness can also work here too. Eat little and often, avoid fatty or spicy foods and stay upright after eating.

It is important to ensure high standards of food hygiene while pregnant.

  • Wash fruit, vegetables and salads thoroughly
  • Wash all surfaces and utensils, and your hands, after preparing raw foods (poultry, meat, eggs, fish, shellfish and raw vegetables) – this will help to avoid food poisoning.
  • Make sure that raw foods are stored separately from ready-to-eat foods, otherwise there's a risk of contamination.
  • Use a separate knife and chopping board for raw meats.
  • Heat ready meals until they're steaming hot all the way through – this is especially important for meals containing poultry.
  • You also need to make sure that some foods, such as eggs, poultry, burgers, sausages and whole cuts of meat like lamb, beef and pork are cooked very thoroughly.

Healthy Start vouchers for pregnant women

You may qualify for the Healthy Start scheme, which provides vouchers to pregnant women and families who qualify. The vouchers can be used to buy milk and plain fresh and frozen vegetables at local shops. You'll also get coupons that can be exchanged for free vitamins locally. For more information or to apply for the vouchers, you can:

go to Do I qualify for Healthy Start vouchers?

download a Healthy Start application form,

or call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823