Nutrition During Pregnancy

Kristin Gunner


a pregnant woman looking out a window and eating an apple
a pregnant woman looking out a window and eating an apple

Pregnancy brings about so many changes. Your body is changing all the time, you’re more emotional, and you have to deal with extra responsibilities. For many women, another big change is nutrition. What you eat can affect both you and your baby, so it’s more important than ever to choose the best foods.

During pregnancy, you need more nutrients for your own health and the healthy development of your baby. Thankfully, this doesn't have to be stressful. Even some small changes to your diet can make a big difference.

Recommended Foods

  • Fruits and vegetables provide many nutrients, like calcium and iron, needed for pregnancy, and they’re easy to incorporate into your daily meals. For many women, this wouldn’t require any change at all.

  • Whole grains, like oats, brown rice, and whole wheat bread, provide carbohydrates and fiber, giving you energy and digestive support.

  • Lean proteins, such as chicken beans, fish, eggs, and tofu, support both your baby’s development and your own cells and tissue.

  • Dairy products, like yogurt and cheese, provide calcium and protein and are great for bone and muscle development.

  • Healthy fats can be found in foods such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts. They aid in the development of your baby’s brain and tissue.

  • Staying hydrated is critical during pregnancy, so it’s important to drink plenty of water and eat food containing a lot of water.

Foods to Avoid or Limit

It’s important to know which foods may pose a risk to the health of you and your baby. These foods should be limited or avoided completely while you’re pregnant, since they can contain harmful bacteria and contaminants.

  • Fish with high mercury levels, like swordfish and mackerel, should be avoided. Too much mercury can be harmful to a baby’s development in the womb.

  • Raw/undercooked meat, eggs, and seafood, unpasteurized foods, and deli meats can contain salmonella or listeria.

  • Caffeine should be limited to no more than 200 mg per day

Managing Pregnancy Symptoms

Most women experience common pregnancy symptoms like nausea, food aversions, and heartburn, but good nutrition can help manage these symptoms.

  • Rather than eating two or three large meals, try eating small, more frequent meals throughout the day. This can relieve nausea and help manage your blood sugar.

  • Choosing more foods high in fiber can help if you’re constipated and prevent it from happening in the future.

  • Prevent heartburn by avoiding foods that are acidic, greasy, or spicy. Smaller meals can also help prevent heartburn.

Of course, there are always exceptions. Some women have special dietary needs. Some have cultural or religious beliefs that dictate what they can and can’t eat. It’s important to speak with your care provider about your diet to come up with a nutrition plan that allows you to meet your nutritional needs.


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logo of a sun with the words new day doula support