Prenatal care - eating right
Pregnant women should eat a balanced diet.
Eat Healthy for you and Your Baby
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
The amount of healthy weight gain in pregnancy varies. These are general guidelines:
Ask your health care provider how much weight you should gain.
Eating for two does not 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:
What to eat
Eating a well-rounded diet with all of the right nutrients and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day is important for a healthy pregnancy. For most normal-weight pregnant women, 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 moderate amounts of fat in your diet for you and your 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 provider or a dietitian if you have a special diet, such as:
Fluids and Vitamins
Pregnant women should also drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine and sugar. Ask your provider 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 provider 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. These cravings 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, such as dirt, clay, laundry detergent, or ice chips. This is called pica, and it may be caused by too little iron in the blood, which leads to anemia. Let your provider know if you have these cravings.
Cline M, Young N. Antepartum care. In: Kellerman RD, Bope ET, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2018. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:1123-1129.
Gregory KD, Ramos DE, Jauniaux ERM. Preconception and prenatal care. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 6.
West EH, Hark L, Catalano PM. Nutrition during pregnancy. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 7.
Review Date: 9/25/2018
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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