Why is a healthy diet important during pregnancy?

“During pregnancy, your baby depends on you as his main source of nutrition. Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy will help meet the developmental needs of your baby, maintain your health as well as prepare you for breastfeeding,” says Ms Kellie Kong, Dietitian​​ from the ​Departm​ent of Nutrition & Dietetics, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

It can even be said that your nutritional status at the time of conception, in addition to your diet during pregnancy, will affect the h​ealth of your grandchildren and future g​enerations.

Recent studies show that chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obesity, and perhaps osteoporosis, and breast and ovarian cancers, have their origins in the womb. This makes it all the more important for you to eat healthily before, as well as, during pregnancy.

Dietitians share ​how pregnant women can make sure they eat the best diet during pregnancy.

How to have a balanced diet during pregnancy

As a guide, the average energy requirement of a non-pregnant Singapore woman is 1700 kcal per day. During pregnancy, your energy requirement increases by 370 kcal per day in the 2nd trimester and 480 kcal per day in the 3rd trimester.

However, maintaining a balanced diet during pregnancy shouldn’t be reduced to counting calories.

Here’s a tabular guide on achieving a balanced diet during pregnancy. All you need to do is to ensure that all the food groups are included in your diet, based on the recommended servings.

Food group/TypeRecommended no. of Servings​Examples of 1 servingRemarks
Brown rice and wholemeal bread6 - 7 (including 3 servings from whole grains)
  • 2 slices bread
  • ½ medium bowl1 cooked rice/noodles
  • 2 small ​chappatis
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 ½ cups2 plain cornflakes
Whole grains include multigrain or wholemeal bread, brown rice beehoon and brown rice
  • 1 wedge papaya/honeydew
  • 1 small apple/pear/orange
If edible, eat the skin on fruits for added fibre to help prevent constipation
  • 100 g (¾ cup or ¼ round plate3) cooked vegetables
Lightly cook vegetables to retain heat-sensitive vitamins like folic acid and vitamin C
Meat & alternatives2.5
  • 1 palm-sized piece lean meat, fish or skinless poultry (90g)
  • 2 small blocks of soft beancurd
  • ¾ cup cooked pulses (e.g. lentils, peas, beans)
To promote good heart health, remove skin from chicken and fat from meat.
Milk & alternatives1
  • 2 cups milk or high calcium soy milk (500ml)
  • ​2 slices of hard cheese (40g)
Choose low-fat dairy products to prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy

1rice bowl
2250ml cup
310 inch plate

Reference: HPB's Pregnancy and Diet

See next page for more tips on what nutrients you need​ and weight gain during pregnancy.

Ref: O17​​