Diet & Exercise during Pregnancy in Singapore

Diet during pregnancy 

Eating healthy before conception and during pregnancy is important for you and your baby. During pregnancy, you only need to take additional 300 kcal/day. However, requirements for other nutrients (e.g. protein, folate, calcium, vitamin D and B vitamins) may be significantly higher than in the non-pregnancy state. So you need to eat smart and choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods, rather than just eating for two!

For portion sizing, we recommend referring to 

Food with lots of nutrition

Some essential nutrients for pregnancy include: 

Folate (Folic Acid)

Folate helps prevent neural tube defects (malformations of the brain and spinal cord) in your baby. You need at least 500 micrograms of folate before conception and throughout the first three months of pregnancy.


Iron is needed for the formation of red blood cells – both for you and the baby. Insufficient iron intake may lead to anaemia. Dietary sources of iron include red meats (beef, mutton, lamb) and certain fruits/vegetables (spinach, beetroot, pomegranate). To enhance iron absorption it is best to consume vitamin C-rich foods with the iron rich-foods or take vitamin C supplements.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA), found in deep-sea fishes, are important for fetal brain and eye development. Unfortunately, these deep-sea fishes may contain high levels of mercury which are toxic to the developing fetus’s brain. Hence, it is recommended that pregnant women eat a maximum of 3 servings of a variety of cooked fish or shellfish per week, and avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel (known as “batang fish” locally) and tilefish (also called white snapper).

Although tuna is a good source of DHA, canned white tuna is higher in mercury than other types of tuna hence pregnant women are also advised to limit canned white tuna to one serving a week. Safe DHA-rich sources include salmon, sardines, herring, halibut and omega-3 fortified eggs. There are suitable oral DHA supplements (including vegan options) that your doctor can prescribe to you.


Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese and yoghurt, beancurd (“tauhu” and “taukwa”), green leafy vegetables, ladies fingers, small fish with edible bones such as “ikan bilis” and sardines. If you have lactose intolerance, you may consume lactose-free milk, cheese or yoghurt as alternatives to milk. Your doctor will also prescribe a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. Food sources include fortified milk, butter and cold water deep-sea fishes, e.g. salmon and sardines. Sunlight is also important for your body to make vitamin D. Most calcium and prenatal supplements have added Vit D.

What food should I avoid during pregnancy?

It is best to avoid the following during pregnancy:

  • Alcohol 
  • Unpasteurised milk and soft cheeses e.g. brie, feta, camembert, liver pates
  • Raw food e.g. sashimi 
  • Herbal supplements 
  • Unwashed salad and raw vegetables 
Speak to our Obstetrics and Gynaecology Specialists Today!

Exercise during pregnancy 

Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

If you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it is safe to continue or start regular physical activity. Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery. However, it is important to discuss exercise with your obstetrician or other member of your health care team during your early prenatal visits. If your health care professional gives you the OK to exercise, you can discuss what activities you can do safely.

What are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy? 

Regular exercise during pregnancy benefits you and your foetus in these key ways:

  • Reduces back pain
  • Eases constipation
  • May decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and caesarean delivery
  • Promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy
  • Improves your overall general fitness and strengthens your heart and blood vessels
  • Helps you to lose the baby weight after your baby is born

What kind of exercise is safe during pregnancy?

Ideally, pregnant women should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. An aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body (like those in the legs and arms) in a rhythmic way. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. You still can talk normally, but you cannot sing.

Some exercises safe during pregnancy include:


Brisk walking gives a total body workout and is easy on the joints and muscles.

Swimming and water workouts

Water workouts use many of the body’s muscles. The water supports your weight so you avoid injury and muscle strain.

Stationary bicycling

Because your growing belly can affect your balance and make you more prone to falls, riding a standard bicycle during pregnancy can be risky. Cycling on a stationary bike is a better choice.

Modified yoga and modified pilates

Yoga reduces stress, improves flexibility, and encourages stretching and focused breathing. There are prenatal yoga and Pilates classes designed for pregnant women. These classes often teach modified poses that accommodate a pregnant woman’s shifting balance. You also should avoid poses that require you to be still or lie on your back for long periods.

If you are an experienced runner, jogger, or racquet-sports player, you may be able to keep doing these activities during pregnancy. Discuss these activities with your obstetrician or other member of your health care team.

Portrait of young pregnant woman doing Prenatal Yoga in the park

What exercises should I avoid during pregnancy?

While pregnant, avoid activities that put you at increased risk of injury, such as the following:

  • Contact sports and sports that put you at risk of getting hit in the abdomen, including ice hockey, boxing, soccer, and basketball
  • Skydiving
  • Activities that may result in a fall, such as downhill snow skiing, water skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, and horseback riding
  • “Hot yoga” or “hot Pilates,” which may cause you to become overheated
  • Scuba diving
  • Activities performed above 6,000 feet (if you do not already live at a high altitude)

What precautions should I take when exercising during pregnancy?

In general, choose exercises that are gentle on your joints, doesn’t require too much balance and is not too strenuous. When exercising, remember to: 

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout 
  • Wear a good sports bra that supports your breasts 
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing 
  • Exercise in a temperature-controlled room — avoid exercising outdoors especially in Singapore’s humid climate! 
  • Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back 

Please stop and call your obstetrician immediately if you experience the following symptoms during exercise or after exercise: 

  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Shortness of breath before starting exercise
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Regular, painful contractions of the uterus
  • Fluid gushing or leaking from the vagina