Eating Eggs During Pregnancy

Pregnancy increases a woman's nutritional needs significantly, especially for nutrients such as energy, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as for most vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron, and zinc. 

Thanks to their nutrient density, eggs are a great food choice during pregnancy to help meet the extra nutritional demands of mum and baby during this time of life.

Eggs and Pregnancy

Can Pregnant Women Eat Eggs?

It is safe for pregnant women to eat eggs as long as the eggs are completely cooked or pasteurised. The New South Wales government advises women to eat eggs only if they have been cooked thoroughly to at least 71°C. In the case of boiled, poached or fried eggs, this means until the white has set and the yolk has started to thicken.

This means that pregnant women can enjoy cooked eggs however should be aware to avoid raw eggs in foods such as aioli, homemade mayonnaise, cake batter or mousse. Mayonnaise and aioli bought commercially are generally safe as they are heat-treated to destroy any potentially harmful bacteria. Check the use-by dates of products prior to purchasing.

How Many Eggs Can a Woman Eat During Pregnancy?

eggs and pregnancy

During pregnancy, eggs are a great way to help meet daily nutritional requirements. Pregnant women can enjoy eggs daily as part of a healthy, balanced diet that also includes plenty of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and the right amounts of protein rich foods like eggs, lean meat, chicken, fish, legumes, nuts and seeds.   

The Benefits of Eating Eggs During Pregnancy

Given their dense nutritional value, eggs provide a great way to help meet a woman’s daily nutritional needs while pregnant. 

Eggs contain 11 different vitamins and minerals, omega-3s, antioxidants and are a rich source of protein, which is essential for the healthy development of the baby. Just one serve of eggs provides almost 100% of the additional protein requirements women need during pregnancy.  

They also contain high amounts of choline, a substance that, together with other key nutrients, plays an important role in brain and spinal cord development during pregnancy.

In addition to taking folic acid supplements, consuming choline during pregnancy may reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

Eggs contain a variety of vitamins including vitamin A, which assists with the healthy development of, eyes, skin and a healthy immune system. They also contain other important nutrients for pregnancy, such as iodine, folate, and iron. 

The table below shows the important nutrients found in eggs and their key role in pregnancy:

Nutrient

Role in pregnancy

Amount in 1 serving of eggs

Benefits from eggs

Protein

Required for growth and development of infant.

12.7g [21% RDI]

Eggs contain all essential amino acids.

Iron

Required for transporting oxygen around the body.

1.7mg [14% RDI]

 

Zinc

Vital role in the development of genetic material.

1mg [8% RDI]

 

Folate*

Required for foetal cell division and growth. Reduces the risk of neural tube defects. 

97µg [16% RDI]

 

Vitamin B12

Required for growth and development, manufacture of DNA, function of the nervous system and production of red blood cells. 

0.3µg [15% RDI]

Eggs are a key source of Vitamin B12, particularly for ovo-vegetarians who are at high risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin A

Required for normal growth and development as well as immune function.

102mcg [14% RDI]

Eggs contain a highly bioavailable form of Vitamin A which is easily absorbed due to the presence of fat.

Vitamin D

Required for bone health. Possible role in development of immune function.

8.2mcg [82% RDI]

Eggs are one of the few food sources of Vitamin D.

Long chain omega-3 fatty acids

Required for development of visual and brain function.

114mg [99% RDI]

Eggs provide an alternate source of omega-3s to fish and seafood options.

Iodine

Required for normal thyroid function. Iodine deficiency can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and mental impairment of the foetus.

43µg [29% RDI)

Eggs are one of the few natural sources of iodine in the diet.

Choline

Required for growth and development including normal brain development and function.

328mg [ 75% AI]

Eggs provide more choline per kJ than most other foods.

*The RDI for folate mentioned is from the NHMRC recommendations. All other figures are from FSANZ.

Just one serving of eggs provides 620kJ, representing 33-44% of the additional kilojoule requirements during pregnancy while providing up to 200% of the additional requirements needed for a range of vitamins and minerals. 

How to Enjoy Eggs During Pregnancy

Omlette on Chopping Board

To obtain all of the nutritional benefits of eggs during pregnancy while maintaining food safety, follow these tips:

  • Cook all egg dishes properly.

  • Check the best before dates on packaged eggs before eating.

  • Avoid eggs with cracked or dirty shells. 

  • Store your eggs in the fridge, inside the carton that you bought them. 

  • Do not store your eggs in a bowl alongside other foods; keep them separate.

  • Eat hard-boiled eggs within three days of boiling. 

Learn More About Adding Eggs to Your Baby’s Diet

As an easy source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, eggs are a valuable addition to a daily meal plan for both mum and baby. But what about after you’ve had your baby? Find out everything you need to know about feeding egg to your baby today.