Nutrition and pregnancy

It is a well-known fact that there are many things you should avoid eating during your pregnancy. However, at times there is confusion about what products you should not eat and to what extend. As midwives we often receive questions about this. So we put together the overview below to make clear what you should take into account during your pregnancy when it comes to food. We differentiate between unambiguous nutritional advice and nutritional advice still under discussion. This way every pregnant woman can determine herself how she handles the advice. Weight gain. Weight gain during the pregnancy is a natural process. Most pregnant women will gain a few kilos while the baby grows in their tummy. On average the weight gain is between 10 and 15 kg in 9 months. Some pregnant women will gain some more in the first trimester while others will not gain a lot of weight until the end of the pregnancy. A woman’s Body Mass Index (BMI) determines how much weight is healthy to gain during the pregnancy. This is an index for weight in relation to height. A pregnant woman who is underweight or at a healthy weight at the start of her pregnancy may gain more weight than a woman who is overweight. Diet It is important to maintain a sufficiently varied diet during your pregnancy. It is not necessary to eat for two. Your body will absorb some nutrients better and will deal with them more efficiently when you are pregnant. You will also use a little more energy, because your baby needs to grow, but towards the end of the pregnancy you will be likely to move around less. Keep eating the way you were before you got pregnant and if you feel hungrier than usual, make sure to eat something healthy. General dietary advice pregnancy

  • Take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily until week 10 of the pregnancy and during the whole of the pregnancy 10 micrograms of Vitamin D. You may consider taking multivitamins for pregnant woman throughout the pregnancy. Folic acid and vitamin D are added to these.
  • The recommended daily amount of calcium is 1000 milligrams. This equals 2-3 portions of dairy rich products and 40 grams of cheese (2 slices). If you don’t reach the daily quantity we advise you to take extra calcium tablets.
  • Eating raw eggs is not harmful to your unborn child. It does increase the risk of you getting sick, due to the lowered resistance in the pregnancy.
  • Be careful with vitamin A. Vitamin A can be found mainly in offal, but also in products like liver pate. Pregnant women are advised to limit their intake of vitamin A to 3000mg a day. This equals to one sandwich with a liver product per day. Liver sausage, liver pate, Berliner, liver cheese, and liver are types of liver products. Do not eat offal like liver.
  • Do not eat raw milk cheeses. If a product is made with raw milk, this will be indicated as “au lait cru” on the packaging. Normal cheeses like cream cheese, mozzarella, brie, and blue cheeses that are available in Dutch supermarkets are usually made with pasteurised milk and therefore safe for you to eat.
  • Advice is max, 200mg of caffeine a day. This equals:
  • 2-3 cup of coffee per day
  • 8 glasses of coke per day, but because of the amount of sugar we advice less!
  • 5 cups of tea per day (Red bush tea and herbal teas hardly contain any caffeine)
  • No Redbull/energy drinks, as these increase the chance of cardiac arrhythmia.
  • 6 cups of chocolate milk per day


  • No raw meat. (Filet American, raw ham, carpaccio, roast beef, ossenworst (raw beef sausage, raw fricandeau (loin roast), steak or tartar. You may eat well-done meat or heated the cold cuts.
  • If meat has been frozen (min. 2 days at min. -12℃) it is safe to eat.
  • Rookvlees (smoked cold cuts) and bacon are safe to eat


  • No smoked ready-to-eat fish from the refrigerated section, both vacuum packed as well as other types of packaging (smoked salmon, mackerel). Fresh from the fishmonger or heated is allowed!
  • No raw fish, shellfish (crayfish, shrimp, crab, mussels, oysters, scallops, cockles). You can eat these when heated! Raw herring is also allowed up to 2 times per week.
  • No predatory fish (swordfish, tuna, shark, king mackerel). Canned tuna is ok with a maximum of 2 cans per week!
  • Oily fish (mackerel, herring, salmon, eel, halibut, bloater, sardines, trout) no more than 2x per week and fried. Salmon doesn’t have to be well done if it has been frozen (min. 2 days at min. -12℃).
  • You can eat sushi as long as it contains no raw fish.


  • Take additional vitamin B12, unless you eat meat substitutes.

Nutritional advice still under discussion There is no consensus about the following advice. Different sources provide different information about this. We have listed them below, so everyone can make up their own mind.

  • Chorizo, salami, and Parma ham are dried cold cuts. There is no consensus about whether you can or cannot eat these during the pregnancy. If you heat them (on a pizza for example) you may definitely eat them.
  • There is no consensus about smoked and cooked cold cuts. If these have been frozen and are consumed straight after defrosting, they are safe.