Pregnant women are bombarded with information about the foods they should, and should not, be eating. Today Dr Helen Crawley, public health nutritionist, First Steps Nutrition Trust, summarises what you need to know.

Foods to avoid in pregnancy

There are certain foods and drinks pregnant women should limit or avoid, either to prevent food poisoning (for example unpasteurized foods, some raw foods and undercooked foods), because they may have a higher concentration of heavy metals, toxins or substances that may harm the foetus in large amounts (some fish species, caffeine in coffee, tea, energy drinks).

Some foods and drinks should be avoided completely (alcohol, liver, herbal supplements such as kava, calabash chalk or blue or black cohosh).

It is important pregnant women do not get too obsessive about food choices in pregnancy.

Teenagers who become pregnant are at particular risk of poor pregnancy outcomes and need particular support around good diet in pregnancy.

Government has acknowledged community pharmacies are a valuable and trusted public health resource, with millions of contacts with the public each day.

Community pharmacy teams have a particular role to play in supporting pregnant women and young families who may be regular visitors to their premises, and are an important part of services that more effectively improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities in the population.

Knowing where to access information to support women and families effectively is an important step in improving this public health role.

Sources of independent information on good nutrition in pregnancy and the early years can be accessed via

Nutrition in pregnancy: who might need additional support?

Mothers from disadvantaged groups are more likely than others to give birth to babies with a low birth weight, have a poorer diet and to either be obese or show low weight gain during pregnancy.

Mothers from these groups are also less likely to take folic acid or other supplements before, during or after pregnancy.

It is particularly important pharmacists offer consistent messages and support in an accessible way to families, and are an underused community resource in this respect.

Many women may feel more comfortable talking to someone in a pharmacy they visit regularly or picking up information in a high street setting.

Come back tomorrow for the final chapter of our weekly feature to find out how pharmacists can support breastfeeding mums.