With a new baby developing inside you, eating a balanced diet is even more important. A recent lecture at a conference made me realise this is more vital than we realised. What we eat can not only influence the growth and development of our babies, but also their future health once born.

Green vegetables provide folate to help baby’s development and iron. Nuts and seeds provide essential omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and iron. They are a handy, healthy snack. Oily fish also contain omega-3 but should be limited to once or twice a week. Hard cheeses provide calcium for the baby’s developing bones and teeth. Lean red meat contains iron and protein. Iron can also be found in cereals, wholegrain bread, eggs and pulses. Baked beans are an excellent source of protein, fibre and iron. Eggs are also a good protein source and can be eaten in a variety of ways. Ensure they are cooked and not raw.

Foods to avoid – all undercooked meat and raw seafood. Cold pre-cooked prawns are OK. Pates should be avoided as they may contain listeria. It can also be found in unpasteurised soft cheese such as brie and camembert. Caffeine should be reduced by swapping to caffeine-free tea or coffee or having herbal/fruit teas. Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly to avoid toxoplasmosis which can be found in soil.

Angela Nicholson

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