Eating well during your pregnancy helps support your baby’s development and has health and wellbeing benefits for you. The basics of healthy eating still apply during pregnancy, but there are certain nutrients you’ll need more of and certain foods you should avoid.

Knowing what foods to eat and how much

It’s especially important to eat healthy food during pregnancy and while breast feeding. Aim to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day. Take a look at our healthy recipes for cooking ideas.

Drinking plenty of water is also a good way to keep your health in check during pregnancy. It is recommended pregnant women drink 8-10 glasses of water per day and increase this to 13 glasses when breastfeeding.

For reliable advice, take a look at these tips for healthy eating when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding from the Australian Dietary Guidelines. You can also use our food calculator to check what types of food you should be eating every day when pregnant and how much of each food group you should be eating.

Folate, iodine and iron

Foods containing folate, iodine and iron are especially important during pregnancy as they play a big role in the growth and development of your baby. Learn more about planning a healthy pregnancy in the NSW Health Thinking of having a baby factsheet and speak to your doctor or midwife about how you can make sure you’re getting enough of these nutrients during pregnancy.

Find out more on starting and growing a family at NSW Government life events .

Gestational Diabetes

Some women may develop gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that can occur during the second half of pregnancy and goes away once the baby is born. Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels are identified. You will likely be screened for gestational diabetes between your 24 and 28 week routine check-up. Find out more on gestational diabetes via healthdirect or speak to your doctor for more information and advice.

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy

A common myth in pregnancy is that women should start ‘eating for two’ as soon as they become pregnant but this is not necessary. In the first trimester or first three months of pregnancy, it is not recommended to double your food intake. After this period, you may need to slightly increase the amount of food you eat but this will depend on your pre-pregnancy weight and level of activity.

To keep you and your baby healthy, it’s recommended to maintain healthy weight gain during pregnancy by eating a balanced diet and staying active. Too much or too little weight gain during pregnancy can put you and your baby at risk of health problems. The right amount of weight gain during pregnancy may also depend on whether you were a healthy weight before pregnancy.

Speak to your doctor or midwife about healthy weight gain during pregnancy. You can also visit eat for health or use the Get Healthy in Pregnancy weight gain calculator to guide you through your pregnancy.

Habits to avoid during pregnancy

Unhealthy or harmful foods

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting your intake of ‘sometimes’ foods which are foods high in unhealthy fats, added salt and sugar. By trying to eat less of these foods, it’s more likely you will eat from the five core food groups which are vital for you and your baby’s health and development. There are also foods that are not recommended because they can increase your risk of consuming harmful bacteria such as listeria or salmonella. Visit the NSW Food Authority to find a helpful guide to help you make the safest food decisions for you and your baby.


Drinking alcohol is considered unsafe and is not recommended if you are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding. Alcohol can harm your baby’s health and development and can have life-long impacts. Coaches from NSW Health’s Get Healthy in Pregnancy service can help you to stop drinking during pregnancy.


Smoking while pregnant can put you and your baby at risk of increased health problems. Not smoking during pregnancy is the safest option and can significantly improve your overall health and the health of your baby. If you’d like help to quit, visit the NSW Quitline or call 13 78 48.


Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cocoa, energy drinks and some sugary soft drinks. Too much caffeine in your diet while pregnant and breastfeeding may make your baby unsettled and can have other negative effects on your body. For further information on caffeine levels in common products and recommended maximum levels for pregnant and breastfeeding women, visit Caffeine on the NSW Health website or the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) website.

Programs to help you stay healthy in pregnancy

Get Healthy in Pregnancy is a free and confidential information and telephone coaching service for pregnant women in New South Wales aged 16 years and over.

This program can step you through all the information you need to know about staying healthy during and after your pregnancy. You can have information sent to you and have a university qualified personal health coach available to help you make healthy lifestyle changes.

You can receive up to 10 free calls over a six-month period. Your health coach could help you to:

  • eat healthy food
  • get active and stay active
  • achieve a healthy weight gain in pregnancy
  • not drink alcohol during your pregnancy.

Visit Get Healthy in Pregnancy