Pregnancy Nutrition

+ Gaining Weight During Pregnancy

Weight gain is normal during pregnancy. It is part of the body changes that occur. You need to control your weight gain if you want a healthy baby. A slow and steady weight gain is your best bet. Pregnant women need to eat an additional 100-300 calories per day. This is not a lot of food. “Eating for two” is an old fashioned idea that is no longer true.

You should gain about 10lbs. the first three months. After that, you should gain about ½ to 1 lb a week. Your total weight gain should be about 25 to 35 lbs, if you are healthy and a normal weight. See the recommendations below:

Recommendations for Weight Gain During Pregnancy

  • Underweight women (BMI less than 20): 30-40 lbs
  • Normal weight women (BMI 20-25): 25-35 lbs
  • Overweight women (BMI 26-29): 15-25 lbs
  • Obese women (BMI>29): up to 15 lbs

+ Extra nutrients

Pregnant women need extra iron and folic acid and these are usually prescribed in a pill form as prenatal vitamins. Taking folic acid for 3 months prior to pregnancy and during the first three months of pregnancy can reduce the risk of certain birth defects such as Spina Bifida.

Check with your doctor before taking any vitamins, herbs or other supplements that are not prescribed for you. Just because a product is “natural” does not mean it is safe to use during pregnancy.

+ Food Groups

A diet based on the food pyramid for pregnancy can help you to incorporate a balance of healthy foods in your diet. Try to eat the daily-recommended servings for each food group to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.

The best way to do this is by following the food pyramid listed below:

Food GroupServingExamples
Food GroupServingExamples
Grains6 ounces1 cup cereal, 1 slice of bread, or 1/2cup cooked rice or pasta can be considered as 1 ounce
Vegetables2 1/2 cups1 cup raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups raw leafy greens can be considered as 1 cup
Fruits1 1/2 - 2 cups1 cup fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup sun dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup
Meat and Beans 5-5 1/2 ounces 2-3 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish, ½ cup cooked dried beans, 1 egg, 2 Tablespoons peanut butter, or ½ cup nuts or seeds equals 1 ounce
Milk3 cups1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 ½ oz of natural cheese

+ Key Nutrients During Pregnancy

NutrientReason For ImportanceSources
NutrientReason For ImportanceSources
Calcium (1000 mg)Helps build strong bones and teethMilk, Cheese, Yogurt, Sardines
Iron (27 MG)Helps create red blood cells that deliver oxygen to the baby and also prevents fatigue Lean red meat, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals.
Vitamin A (770 mcg)Forms healthy skin and helps eyesight, helps with bone growthCarrots, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes
Vitamin C (85 MG) Promotes healthy gums, teeth and bones. Helps your body absorb iron
Vitamin B6 Helps form red blood cells, helps body use protein, fat and carbohydratesBeef, liver, pork, whole grain cereals, bananas
Vitamin B12 (2.6mcg) Maintain nervous system, needed to form red blood cells Liver,meat,fish,poultry,milk(only found in animal foods, vegetarians should take a supplement)
Folate (600mcg)Needed to produce blood and protein, helps some enzymesGreen leafy vegetables, liver, orange juice, legumes and nuts.

+ Special Concerns

Vegetarian Diet

Be sure you are getting enough protein. You will probably need to take supplements especially iron, B12 and vitamin D

Lactose Intolerance

During pregnancy, symptoms of lactose intolerance often improve. If you are still having problems after eating or drinking dairy products, talk with your doctor. We may prescribe calcium supplements if you cannot get enough calcium from other foods. Remember, calcium can also be found in cheese, yogurt, sardines, certain types of salmon, spinach, and fortified orange juice.

+ Foods To Avoid in Pregnancy

Raw Meat:

Avoid uncooked seafood and undercooked beef or poultry due to risk of bacterial contamination, Toxoplasmosis and Salmonella.

Deli Meat:

In rare cases, deli meat may contain bacteria called Listeria that can lead to pregnancy complications
and miscarriage. If eating deli meat, reheat until steaming to kill any bacteria.

Fish With Mercury:

Avoid fish with high levels of mercury including shark, swordfish, king Mackerel and Tilefish. For other fish, limit consumption to two servings per week.

Smoked Seafood:

Refrigerated, smoked seafood should be avoided due to risks of Listeria (Bacteria) contamination.

Raw Shellfish:

Raw shellfish including clams, oysters, and mussels can cause bacterial infections. Cooked shrimp is safe.

Raw Eggs:

Raw eggs or any food containing raw eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella. This includes some homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, and homemade ice-cream.

Soft Cheeses:

Imported soft cheeses may contain Listeria. Soft cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe.

Unpasteurized Milk:

Unpasteurized milk may contain Listeria which can lead to miscarriage.


Refrigerated Pate or meat spreads should be avoided due to risks of Listeria.


Avoid caffeine during the 1st Trimester to reduce risk of miscarriage. After the first trimester limit caffeine intake to the equivalent of 1 cup of coffee a day or less. Excess caffeine may be associated with miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in infants.

Unwashed vegetables:

Wash all vegetables well to avoid exposure to Toxoplasmosis which may contaminate the soil where vegetables are grown.

+ Prenatal Vitamins

We recommend a daily prenatal vitamin to help provide the best balance of nutrition for you and your baby. Either over the counter or prescription vitamins are fine. If you cannot tolerate a prenatal vitamin, we recommend 2 children’s chewable vitamins a day instead. If vitamins are causing nausea, try taking them at nighttime with a snack. If constipation is an issue, increase the fiber in your diet, drink more fluids and increase activity. An over the counter stool softener may be added if needed.

+ Artificial Sweeteners

  • Saccharin (Sweet’n Low)
  • Aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Acesulfame (Sunett)
  • Stevia (Truvia and SweetLeaf)

These are OK to use but we recommend limiting it to 1-2 servings per day. These tend to be 200-600 times sweeter than sugar and are safe to use in pregnancy in moderation. If you have diabetes, the artificial sweeteners are better than sugar to control your blood sugars.