Maintaining proper nutritional status is paramount for both expectant mothers and their developing babies. Adequate nutrition not only fosters foetal growth and development but also minimises the risk of birth defects and complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you maintain optimal nutrition throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding:

Ensuring optimal nutrition throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding

  1. Embrace a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet encompasses the necessary nutrients in the right proportions to maintain the overall health and well-being. A well-balanced diet includes a variety of foods from different food groups, ensuring that your body receives essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Here are the key components of a balanced diet: Key components of a balanced diet include:



  • Whole Grains: Opt for whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat, oats, and barley, rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Proteins: Incorporate lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, lean meats, eggs, dairy products, legumes, tofu, and beans. Proteins are essential for building and repairing tissues in the body.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Enjoy a colourful array of fruits and vegetables, rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants.
  • Dairy or Dairy Alternatives: Ensure adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, crucial for bone health, through milk, yoghurt, cheese, or fortified plant-based alternatives like almond or soy milk.
  • Healthy Fats/Oils: Include healthy fats in moderation, such as those found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon while limiting saturated and trans fats found in processed foods and fried items.
  • Hydration: Stay hydrated by consuming ample water throughout the day to support various bodily functions such as digestion, nutrient absorption, and temperature regulation.
  • Limit Added Sugars and Salt: Reduce intake of foods high in added sugars and excessive salt to promote overall health. This includes sugary drinks, sweets, and processed foods.
  • Portion Control: Be mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating. Eating in moderation is crucial for weight management and overall health.
  • Variety and Moderation: Incorporate a variety of foods in your diet to ensure you get a broad spectrum of nutrients. Moderation is key, as excessive consumption of any specific food group can lead to an imbalance.


  1. Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Weight gain during pregnancy is important for the development and growth of your baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, uterus, breasts, blood supply and fat stores, which are all essential to your baby’s development. But how much weight should you gain? Let’s look at the table below:


Pre-pregnancy BMI Classification Appropriate Gain
<18.4 Underweight 13-18 kg
18.4 to 24.9 Normal Weight 11-16 kg
25 to 30 Overweight 7-11 kg
31 to 35 Moderately Obesity (I) 5-9 kg
36 to 40 Severely Obese (II) Same as obesity I
>40 Very Severely Obese (III) Same as obesity I
Women with twins Regardless of class 16-21kg


  1. Vitamins and Minerals Needed During Pregnancy

Pregnant women are encouraged to follow a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy. It is particularly important to consume fresh fruits and vegetables as many vitamins and mineral requirements are increased during pregnancy, especially calcium, iron, folate, vitamin C. Focus on incorporating the following sources into your diet:

  • Calcium: Found in milk, milk products, broccoli, dried beans, and fortified orange juice.
  • Iron: Sources include red meat (beef, lamb, mutton, biltong), dried beans, fortified cereals, spinach, and raisins. It’s important to note that food containing iron is better absorbed if eaten with foods containing vitamin C.
  • Folate: Fortified whole grain products, fortified breakfast cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, brussels sprouts, oranges, bananas, dried beans.
  • Vitamin C: Present in citrus fruits, melon, kiwi fruit, broccoli, green and red bell peppers, tomatoes.

By following these guidelines and incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your diet, you can ensure optimal nutrition for a healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding journey. Remember to consult with our Dieticians for personalised dietary recommendations.


Yours in Health,

Your Nutrition At Hand partners: Vusi Sape and Katlego Medupe

T: (012) 798 7091

M: 069 205 9706 (Vusi) and 073 490 0757 (Katlego)


Location: Botshilu Private Hospital |Suite No.:11 and BMR Family Health Clinics (Block DD, Lebanon and Wonderpark Mall)