Vegetables for pregnancy and breast feeding

Pregnant and breast feeding women should eat a variety of nutritious foods.

Pregnancy is a time when the body needs more of many nutrients such as vitamin A, C and most of the B vitamins, as well as minerals such as iron zinc and iodine. These all support the mother and baby. Vegetables provide many of these nutrients.

Pregnant women should aim for 5 serves of vegetables every day.

During breast feeding the body needs more energy ad extra minerals and vitamins to pass on to the baby in the breast milk. Eating plenty of vegetables helps with these demands.

Breast feeding women should aim for at least 7 serves of vegetables every day.

Fibre is another important nutrient. It keeps your digestive system working well, helping to make you feel more comfortable. Including vegetables in your diet is a tasty way to increase your fibre intake.

Vegetables provide carbohydrate (for energy), dietary fibre, vitamins – especially folate, vitamin A (yellow and green vegetables), vitamin C (dark green vegetables, potato), and minerals such as iron zinc and iodine.

How many vegetables do you need?

A ‘serving’ of vegetables is about 75g, which is about the same as:

• ½ cup cooked vegetables eg, pūhā, watercress, silverbeet, kamokamo (squash), carrot, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage or taro leaves cauliflower, spinach, wong bok, choy sum, gaai laan, beans, Brussels sprouts, courgettes, eggplant, leeks, okra, pumpkin, ulluco

• ½ cup canned vegetables (eg, beetroot, tomato, sweet corn)

• 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables such as asparagus, capsicum, celery, cucumber, kale, lettuce, radish, spring onions, sprouted beans, witloof

• ½ medium kūmara, taewa (Māori potato), yam (Pacific or NZ), taro, cassava, or green banana

• 1 medium tomato

When pregnant, aim for 5 serves, when breastfeeding, aim for at least 7 serves.

Make it easy

During pregnancy, you may feel unwell and nauseous, so having nutritious meals and snacks little and often can help make sure you get all the nutrients you need.

When breastfeeding you need plenty of nutritious foods to meet the increased demands on your body, so it helps to have easy meals and nutritious snacks handy.

Handy tips for plenty of vegetables:

Meal Ideas

  • hot vegetable soups, vegetable dahl or vegetable curry
  • baked potato or kūmara, halved and topped with cream style corn, chopped tomato or lentils
  • quesadillas
  • stir fried vegetables
  • freshly made salad or salad sandwiches

Easy snacks

  • vegetable sticks (with hummus, guacamole, or carrot dip)
  • vegetable muffins or scones
  • mini wraps or bite-sized salad sandwiches, freshly made

See our recipe section for more ideas. 

Food Safety is especially important when you are pregnant, so make sure that when you are preparing vegetables you:

  • Wash them thoroughly.
  • Handle and prepare and store foods separately.
  • Eat freshly made salads, avoid pre-prepared salads and sandwiches.