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Nutrition During Pregnancy

Having a healthy baby depends mostly on you. What you eat matters to your baby and your health. During pregnancy, you will likely need about 300 more calories each day than you ate before you became pregnant. Each day, try to eat the number of servings listed here for each food group. In addition cut down on salt and caffeine. Limit the amount of sweets and high-fat foods you eat. And please don’t smoke or drink alcohol.

Important:  See your healthcare provider as often as requested. If you have any questions, be sure to ask them.

Image of food

Image of food

Image of food

Image of food

Image of food

Image of food


1-1/2 to 2 servings

Examples of one serving:

1 medium apple

1 medium orange

1 medium banana

1 cup chopped fruit

1 cup 100% fruit juice (pasteurized)

1/2 cup dried fruit


2-1/2 servings

Examples of one serving:

2 cups leafy greens

1 cup raw or cooked cut-up vegetables

1 cup vegetable juice (pasteurized)

Grains & Cereals*

6 servings

Examples of one serving:

1 slice bread

1/2 cup cooked rice

1/2 cup cooked cereal

1/2 cup pasta

1 cup cold cereal


3 servings

Examples of one serving:

1 cup milk

1 cup yogurt

1-1/2 ounces natural cheese

2 ounces processed cheese


5 to 5-1/2 servings

Examples of one serving:

1 egg

1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish

1/2 cup cooked beans

1 tablespoon peanut butter


8 or more 8-ounce glasses



Diluted juices: Apple, orange, cranberry

Mineral water

Clear soups, broth


  • Choose whole grains whenever possible.

  • Try to choose low-fat options; avoid soft cheeses and unpasteurized milk.

  • Avoid raw or undercooked meats, fish, and shellfish. Also, some kinds of fish and shellfish may be dangerous to eat when you are pregnant. Ask your healthcare provider about safe options.

Healthy Eating Habits During Pregnancy:

It's important to develop healthy eating habits while you are pregnant, for you as well as your baby.  Here are some ways to help you stay healthy.

  1. Eat small frequent meals.  As your baby grows, there will be less room for your stomach to expand with a large meal.  Instead of large meals, eat small meals more frequently.

  2. Use your plate to guide you.  All types of food are important to have in your diet.  The goal is to have a healthy balance to achieve good health.  Use the plate method as a guide to what to eat;  1/2 of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, 1/4 of your plate protein, 1/4 of your plate starchy foods, and to balance it off, 1 cup of milk or yogurt for your calcium.  Working with a registered dietitian can help you understand the plate method.

  3. Get in your fluids.  Drink at least 8-10 cups daily.  Your baby needs fluid.  Fluids  also decrease constipation, flush out toxins and waste, limit swelling, and help prevent bladder infections.  Water is the best choice, but here are some other options:  Seltzer water, clear soups that are low in salt, low-fat or fat-free milk, fruit juices, popsicles, or gelatin.

  4. Choose fiber.  Fiber will help prevent constipation.  Good sources include whole grains, whole fruits, and vegetables.

  5. Choose foods high in folic acid. Folic acid helps prevent certain problems in your baby. During pregnancy, you need to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.

  6. VItamins and supplements.  Prenatal vitamins contain an appropriate balance of extra vitamins and minerals needed for your pregnancy.  Not all supplements are safe, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking any additional ones or herbal products.

  7. Eat high calcium food daily.  Your baby needs calcium to develop strong bones and teeth.

  8. Limit caffeine.  Excessive amounts of caffeine can interfere with the absorption of nutrients and may decrease your baby's birth weight.  Limit daily intake to 300 milligrams or less (2-3 cups of coffee).

  9. Choose foods high in iron.  Your body needs additional iron during pregnancy to make more red blood cells.

  10. Don't diet, but aim for a healthy weight. Now is not the time to diet, you may not get enough of the nutrients you and your baby need throughout pregnancy.  Instead, learn how to eat a healthy balanced diet.  Realize that you will need to gain some weight for a healthy pregnancy, but a slow, steady rate of weight gain is best.  Don't worry too much about the pounds, rather aim for healthy eating.


Nutrients for a Healthy Pregnancy:

Healthy pregnancy includes good nutrition.  During pregnancy, there are five specific nutrients that are important to your baby's development.  These nutrients can be obtained through the foods that you eat, and through prenatal vitamins, a pill that you take daily during pregnancy to help make sure you’re getting the right amount of certain nutrients that are important to your baby.

  1. Folic Acid: Helps for red and white blood cells and prevents neural tube defects such as spina bifida.   Food sources of folic acid include:  spinach, green leafy vegetables, liver, wheat germ, oranges, grain products, and peanuts.

  2. Vitamin C:  Helps to keep your immune system healthy and form and repair red blood cells, bones, and other tissue.  Food sources of Vitamin C include;  Citrus fruits, broccoli, orange juice, tomatoes, potato's, and spinach.

  3. Vitamin A:    Promotes growth of cells and tissues and protects from infection by keeping skin and tissues healthy.  Food sources of Vitamin A include:  Beef, liver, sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, fruits, spinach, milk, eggs, and broccoli.

  4. Iron:   Necessary for red blood cell formation to increase blood volume.  Food sources of Iron include:  Beef, liver, spinach, soybean nuts, beans, pork, pretzels, raisins, dried prunes, bran, and chicken breast.

  5. Calcium:  Helps form baby's bones and teeth and also maintains your own bones and teeth, and regulates blood pressure.  Food sources of calcium include:  Milk, yogurt, cheese, pudding, broccoli, kale, cottage cheese, ice cream, fish with edible bones, and soy foods.


© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.