Nutrition counselling during pregnancy
Maintaining good nutrition and a healthy diet during pregnancy is critical for the health of the mother and unborn child. Nutrition education and counselling is a widely used strategy to improve the nutritional status of women during pregnancy. The strategy focuses primarily on:
- promoting a healthy diet by increasing the diversity and amount of foods consumed
- promoting adequate weight gain through sufficient and balanced protein and energy intake
- promoting consistent and continued use of micronutrient supplements, food supplements or fortified foods.
Available evidence suggests that nutrition education and counselling may support optimal gestational weight gain (i.e. neither insufficient nor excessive), reduce the risk of anaemia in late pregnancy, increase birth weight, and lower the risk of preterm delivery. Counselling may be more effective in undernourished populations when women are also provided with nutrition support such as food or micronutrient supplements where needed.
Counselling about healthy eating* and keeping physically active during pregnancy is recommended for pregnant women to stay healthy and to prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
In undernourished populations, nutrition education on increasing daily energy and protein intake is recommended for pregnant women to reduce the risk of low birth weight neonates.
* A healthy diet during pregnancy contains adequate energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, obtained through the consumption of a variety of foods, including green and orange vegetables, meat, fish, beans, nuts, pasteurized dairy products and fruit.
Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Diet or exercise, or both, for preventing excessive weight gain in pregnancy
Antenatal dietary education and supplementation to increase energy and protein intake
- Summary of this review
Related systematic reviews
Nutrition education and counseling provided during pregnancy: Effects on maternal, neonatal and child health outcomes