Pregnant women should eat a balanced diet. Making a baby is hard work for a woman’s body. Eating right is one of the best things you can do to help your baby grow and develop normally. Eating a balanced, healthy diet can help prevent:
Eating for two doesn’t mean eating twice as much food. Pregnant women need about 300 extra calories a day. But where these calories come from matters.
Instead of junk food, choose foods that are:
Other nutrients your baby needs are:
Eating a well-rounded diet with all of the right nutrients along with at least 30 minutes of exercise per day is important for a healthy pregnancy. For most pregnant woman, the right amount of calories is:
Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta:
Milk, yogurt, and cheese:
Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts:
Fats and oils
You need some fat in your diet for you and the growing baby. Fats provide long-term energy for growth and are needed for brain development.
Women with special diet needs should plan their meals carefully to make sure they get the nutrition they need. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or a dietitian if you have a special diet, such as:
Pregnant women should also drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine and sugar. Ask your doctor how much fluid you should get each day.
You should also take a prenatal vitamin that has folic acid, iron, and the other vitamins and minerals that all women need. Your doctor may give you a prescription for vitamins. You can also get prenatal vitamins over the counter.
Though no one knows why, many pregnant women have cravings for certain foods. It may be because of hormone changes. It will often pass after the first 3 months.
As long as you are getting all the nutrients you need for you and your baby, it is fine to have some of the foods you crave every now and then.
Sometimes, pregnant women will get strange cravings for things that are not food. This is called pica, and may be caused by too little iron in the blood. If you crave non-foods like dirt, clay, laundry detergent, or ice chips, let your doctor know. You may have anemia (too little iron) and need an iron supplement.
Hark L, Catalano PM. Nutritional management during pregnancy. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 7.
Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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