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Watch our video to find out why you need iron, iodine and complex carbohydrates when you’re pregnant

Nutritional therapist Stephanie Ridley from Fig & Bloom outlines three nutrients to work into your diet during pregnancy, plus a recipe for Overnight oats that contains all three! When you’re expecting, it’s really important to make sure that you eat a well-balanced diet containing the right nutrients for both you and your baby.

Has that whet your appetite? Here’s more about those three key nutrients.


Iron is needed to make haemoglobin so that our red blood cells can store and carry oxygen around our bodies. And when you’re pregnant, you need enough iron for your body to make extra red blood cells for your baby – while leaving enough for you too.

There are two types of iron in foods. You’ll find ‘haem iron’ in meats, like red meat, poultry and fish – and these are easier for your body to absorb.

The second type of iron is called ‘non-haem iron’ and this is found in plant-based foods, like pulses, dried fruits, fortified breakfast cereals and dark leafy vegetables. Your body finds it harder to absorb this type of iron, but partnering it with vitamin C helps. So do include in your meal a food or drink that’s rich in vitamin C, such as a glass of pure orange juice, berries or red pepper.

Symptoms of iron-deficiency anaemia are feeling tired and weak, a racing heart, breathlessness and low mood. If you have any of these symptoms or are concerned about your iron levels, speak to your GP or other health professional.


This mineral is essential to make thyroid hormones, which are needed for growth, to regulate metabolism and also for your baby’s brain development. In pregnancy, you need more iodine so that you can supply it to your baby – so increasing your iodine levels has a positive effect on your baby’s IQ and ability to learn when they’re older.

Iodine is all about balance. Too much is dangerous, so you shouldn’t take supplements before talking to your GP. However, choosing foods containing iodine several months before you get pregnant can help build up stores of the mineral in your thyroid.

You’ll find iodine in yoghurt, milk, fish, seafood, and eggs.

Complex carbohydrates

We all need carbohydrates for energy, and your baby’s no different. You’ll need complex carbohydrates not just for your own energy, but your baby’s too.

Complex carbohydrates are starchy, filling foods, and healthy examples include oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice and wholemeal bread. They’ll provide you with slow-release energy to keep you both going.

Try to avoid binging on simple carbohydrates. These are sugars and can be found in biscuits, cake, white pasta and white bread. They raise blood glucose levels quickly, and can make you more prone to developing gestational diabetes, which can lead to having a bigger birth weight baby and birth complications.

The good news is that by focusing on eating nutritious, balanced meals, you’re more likely to have a healthy pregnancy.

With thanks to the British Dietetic Association