Pregnancy Nutrition

In pregnancy you need to concentrate on increasing your nutrient intake rather than your energy intake. The following table provides a guide to the amount of food recommended each day for a healthy diet in pregnancy. (This information is also applicable to women with gestational diabetes).

Written by Natasha Leader, Accredited Practising Dietitian & Credentialled Diabetes Educator.

Food Group & Function

Daily intake

1 serve equals

Breads & Cereals

Provide energy, essential vitamins & help maintain regular bowel function.

Key nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates (energy)
  • B vitamins (especially thiamin)
  • Fibre
  • Protein
  • Folic acid
At least 8-9 serves
  • 1 slice of bread
  • ½ cup cereal flakes
  • ½ cup cooked rice/ noodles/ pasta
  • 2 large crackers


Are needed for body repair & maintenance of good health.

Key nutrients:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Folic acid
  • Carbohydrates (energy)
  • Fibre
2 serves
  • 1 medium piece
  • 2 small pieces
  • 1 cup fruit salad
  • 2 tablespoons dried fruit
  • ½ cup fruit juice


Are needed for body repair & maintenance of good health.

Key nutrients:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Folic acid
  • Fibre
5 serves
  • ½ cup cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup salad vegetables
  • 1 average potato

Milk & Dairy Products

Are essential for growth & maintenance of bones & teeth.

Key nutrients:



Vitamins A & D

B vitamins (especially riboflavin & vitamin B¹²

2 – 3 serves
  • 1 glass (250ml) milk/ fortified soy milk
  • 1 tub (200g) yoghurt
  • 2 slices cheese
  • 1 cup (250ml) custard

Meat & Alternatives

Are important for building, maintaining & repairing body tissue & muscle.

Key nutrients:

  • Protein
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • B vitamins
3 – 4 serves
  • 65 – 80g meat or chicken
  • 100g fish
  • 100g tofu
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup legumes
  • 30g nuts
Adapted from ‘The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating’ a publication of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, 2013.


Here is a more in-depth look at iodine and folic acid, two nutrients especially important during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Iodine is important during pregnancy and breastfeeding for the normal development of a baby’s brain and nervous system. Iodine deficiency can result in learning problems in babies and young children and can also impact physical development and hearing. For mothers it can affect the thyroid gland resulting in a variety of symptoms including dry skin, hair loss, fatigue, slowed reflexes, depression and goitre.

Iodine is found in dairy products, some soymilk, seafood, kelp, eggs, bread, some vegetables and in iodised salt. Studies show many pregnant women do not obtain enough iodine. It is therefore recommended that all pregnant and breastfeeding women (and those planning to conceive)* take a supplement that includes at least 150 micrograms (mcg) of iodine per day.

For more detailed information see the Food Safety Australia & New Zealand (FSANZ) fact sheet on Iodine in Food which includes the recommended daily intake (RDI) for adults and children.

*Speak to your doctor if you have pre-existing thyroid disease.

Folic acid

Folate is a B group vitamin essential for the healthy growth and development of babies in early pregnancy. Folate is naturally found in green leafy vegetables and legumes (peas, dried beans, lentils) and as folic acid in cereals, wholegrain breads and dietary supplements. Taking folate can reduce the risk of neural tube defect spina bifida but won’t prevent all cases.

Since 2009 Australian bread-making flour (except organic flour) has been required to contain added folic acid. Although you may be able to obtain sufficient folate in your diet is it recommended that all women of childbearing age take a daily folic acid supplement containing at least 400mcg. Those with pre-existing diabetes or a family history of spina bifida are advised to take a much higher dose so speak to your doctor, midwife or Accredited Practising Dietitian for advice about your individual needs.

Last updated March 2013.