Pregnant women who believe in the “eating for two” myth risk harming the health of themselves and their babies, experts have warned.
A survey suggests that more than two-thirds of UK mothers-to-be have no idea how many extra calories they need during pregnancy.
More than 63% of participants felt under pressure from others to eat larger meals than normal.
Alex Davis, from the National Charity Partnership which commissioned the poll, said: “The ‘eating for two’ myth has been around for years, but it’s very unhelpful.
“Eating healthily and consuming healthy portion sizes are important before, during and after pregnancy to increase the chances of conceiving naturally, reduce the risk of pregnancy and birth-related complications and stave off health problems like Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease in the long-term.”
Official guidelines say women do not need any extra calories in the first six months of pregnancy.
During the last three months they only require about 200 extra calories – the equivalent of two pieces of wholegrain toast with olive oil spread or a small handful of nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
Prof Janice Rymer, vice-president of education at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Eating too much during pregnancy and putting on too much weight can be detrimental to both mother and baby. Women who are overweight during pregnancy are at an increased risk of having a miscarriage and developing conditions such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia.”