Thinking About Getting Pregnant?
Congratulations on Your Pregnancy! (for those who are newly pregnant)
What is a healthy pregnancy weight gain?
Can I continue to eat a vegetarian diet during pregnancy?
A Pregnancy Menu For You and Your Baby
Treating Nausea and Vomiting
What About Seafood?
Don't Eat That!
Pregnancy and Cholesterol
Wash Those Veggies!
Breastmilk, the Healthiest Diet for Babies
What DOES that Broccoli Do for My Baby?
Vitamin D Supplements in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
New Research Affirms Individualized Vitamin D Supplementation for Pregnant Women
Breastfeeding: Developing a Future Gourmet
What to Do About The Flu
Decreasing the Risk of Gestation Diabetes
Keeping and Storing Breastmilk
Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines – Do We Need New Ones?
Breastfeeding: A Woman's Health Issue
Eating During Labor
Probiotics and a Decreased Risk of Gestational Diabetes
Pregnancy - a Time to be Active!
Clearing the Air : Quit Smoking for You and Your Child
What is a Healthy Pregnancy Diet for Obese Women?
Does Iron Intake Matter?
One Fish, Two Fish... Full Term Birth?
Folic acid in pregnancy and language development
A Mediterranean Diet, Pre-Pregnancy
There is No Substitute for a Healthy Diet
Honest Healthy Diets for Babies
Exercise for New Moms
A Healthy Pre-Pregnancy Diet and Gestational Diabetes
Vitamin D and Gestational Diabetes
Great News About Breastfeeding
Peanuts and Pregnancy
Fried Foods and Gestational Diabetes
Iodine supplements - should you take them?
Faith's passion in nursing is to help people find the options they need to discover their personal path to optimum health. Ask her friends and they will tell you that their appreciation of nutritious food has grown through Faith. About Faith Bontrager, RN, BSN
How do you choose a menu that will benefit you and your baby? Googling the phrase "healthy pregnancy diet" returns more than two million responses. Even reputable groups like the USDA and Harvard School of Public Health disagree. Where do you start?
The good news is that you can probably follow any of the reputable sources and be OK. Further good news is that there are more similarities to these plans than there are differences.
A good way to get started is to download our pregnancy diet guide and check off the items as you eat them. You will not have a perfect match every single day but if you are low in a specific category one day, work extra hard in that area the next day. You don't need to complete a checklist every day of your pregnancy, but do it long enough to develop your own "sense" of what you need to eat. Then every week or so, follow the checklist for a few days as your own nutrient "check up."
Eat 7 servings daily. Include variety here! Fill your house with those fruits and veggies that you love. Try to have at least one leafy green vegetable daily such as a green salad, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower (it may be white but it has "green" nutrients!), asparagus, or kale. Have a fruit or vegetable that is high in vitamin C such as citrus fruit, strawberries, melons, tomatoes, peppers, or broccoli. Have a deep yellow vegetable or fruit such as carrots, squash, apricots, or pumpkin 3-4 times weekly for adequate vitamin A. Here's a list from the USDA of the amounts of vitamin A in many foods as well as the amounts of vitamin C in many foods (PDF documents).
Eat some raw vegetables and fruits daily to add fiber to your diet. Constipation is an unnecessary pregnancy "complication."
1 medium piece of raw fruit (about the size of a baseball)
1 cup of leafy green vegetables
½ cup of chopped fruit of vegetables
¼ cup of dried fruit
¾ cup of vegetable or fruit juice
Eat 6-9 servings daily. Unprocessed whole grains such as whole wheat bread and pasta, oatmeal, brown rice are high in nutrients and fiber. Processed cereals enriched white bread have significantly less fiber but will still provide important B vitamins including folic acid.
1 slice of bread or 1 small dinner roll is one serving (a large sandwich bun would be more)
½ cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta
Read the labels on breakfast cereals as serving sizes vary considerably.
Eat 4 or more servings daily. Dairy products contain significant amounts of calcium. You need 1000 mg of calcium daily (more if you are teen mother). Many dietitians recommend low fat milk to avoid excessive weight gain, but some feel that the fat soluble vitamins found in cream are worth the extra calories.
Avoid soft cheeses such as Brie, blue cheeses, and Queso blanco unless the label clearly states that they were made with pasteurized milk. Cheeses made with unpasteurized milk or stored improperly can be a source of food-borne illness.
If you are vegan or lactose intolerant see "Can I continue to eat a vegetarian diet during pregnancy?" for ideas about how to get your calcium, protein, and vitamins A & D in other ways.
1 cup of milk or yogurt
1 ½ oz of natural cheese. In chunks this is the size of 2 packages of gum. In slices (the size and thickness of a CD) this is 1 ½ slices
2 oz of processed cheese – In chunks this is about the size of 4 dominos. In wrapped singles, this is 2 slices
Eat 2-3 servings daily (60 grams daily). For many American women this will be poultry, meat, fish, and eggs. However, legumes (dried beans and peas) are also excellent sources of protein, and they also contain folic acid. Nuts and nut butters are proteins which also include heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, minerals and fiber. Keep some nuts in your desk or your bag and munch on a handful if you are having problems getting in your protein. Meats are a good source of iron. If you do not include meat in your diet, make sure you include other sources of iron. Current research recommends that all pregnant women take an iron supplement. Seafood can be an important part of your pregnancy diet but there are some types of fish that should be limited or avoided all together.
Meat (2-3 oz) is about the size of a deck of playing cards
Nuts – about 1/3 cup, nut butters 2 Tbsp
Beans – ½ cup of cooked beans
½ Cup tofu
Drink 6-8 glasses per day, more if you work outdoors in the heat or are very active. Water is very important in carrying nutrients and eliminating waste. It helps to prevent constipation, helps to prevent urinary tract infections, and can help prevent excess swelling. Not getting enough water can lead to premature labor.
In addition to your prenatal vitamin, research supports an iron supplement for all pregnant women. Don't take calcium and iron together as calcium interferes with the absorption of iron.
Don't forget to ENJOY your food! Nutrition is more than just biochemistry. Use pregnancy as a time to try healthy new recipes. Relax over dinner with your partner or a friend. Choose one healthy new habit to develop in each trimester. Nourish yourself and your child!
While the information in this article applies to most pregnant women, you may have special nutritional needs because of your health history or pregnancy complications. Always talk with your doctor or midwife about nutrition.