Nutritional Tips During Pregnancy

Simple Basics for Eating During Pregnancy

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You may have heard the term "eating for two" with regard to pregnancy. This is not exactly accurate and can put undo pressure on a pregnant person. Most nutrient needs don't double during pregnancy, but many do increase.

The increased needs can be met by taking a prenatal multivitamin and including nutrient-rich foods in your meals and snacks. Here are some tips for meeting nutrient needs during pregnancy.

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Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods When Pregnant

When deciding what you're going to eat, include foods rich in vitamins and minerals like:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats and vegetable protein like beans and lentils
  • Plant-based fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil
  • Yogurt, kefir, cheese, and milk (and calcium and vitamin D fortified alternatives)

Snacks can be a great way to fit nutrient rich foods into your day.


Pregnancy Food Cravings

Stay Hydrated During Pregnancy

Your fluid needs increase during pregnancy as blood volume and amniotic fluid increase. Eight to 12 cups a day is the recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Staying hydrated has many benefits for the two of you, including:

  • Aiding in nutrients circulating throughout the body
  • Aiding in waste leaving the body
  • Forming amniotic fluid
  • Helping promote healthier skin and skin elasticity
  • Reducing constipation and swelling

Embrace Snacking

Snacking is helpful anytime in life, but this fact is especially true during pregnancy. We may not be able to fit all the foods we'd like to eat into a meal, so snacks can provide an opportunity to include things like calcium-rich yogurt, fiber rich fruits, nuts/seeds, etc. into our days.

In addition, as your baby gets bigger in the second and third trimester, snacks can be a helpful way to help ease some of the digestive discomforts that may arise from larger meals, like heartburn. A few snack ideas include:

  • Yogurt with berries and chopped walnuts
  • Overnight oats made with milk, peanut butter, and banana
  • String cheese, an apple, and cashews
  • Hard-boiled eggs and carrot sticks dipped in hummus
  • Black bean, corn, and salsa salad
  • Salmon salad on whole grain toast
  • Almond butter toast and a decaf latte
  • Edamame
  • Chia pudding made with milk, diced apple, cinnamon, maple syrup, and pistachios

Eat Protein for You and Baby

Protein is the building block of every cell in your body and in your baby's body. Protein needs increase by about 25 grams a day during pregnancy. Here are some nutrient-rich foods that deliver protein:

  • Beans: 8 to 10 grams per cup (cooked/canned)
  • Lentils: 18 grams per cup (cooked)
  • Greek yogurt: 20 grams per cup (plain)
  • Rolled oats: 5 grams per cup (cooked)
  • Eggs: 6 grams per large egg
  • Beef: 7 grams per ounce
  • Chicken: 8 grams per ounce
  • Fish: 6 grams per ounce
  • Walnuts: 4 grams per 1/4 cup

Smaller, Frequent Meals and Digestion

Eating smaller more frequent meals might help with some common digestive discomforts of pregnancy. If you experience nausea and/or vomiting or heartburn, smaller, frequent meals might help to reduce the discomfort. In addition, as your baby grows and takes up more abdominal space, smaller more frequent meals also might make you more comfortable.

Weight Gain in Pregnancy

Gradual weight gain is part of pregnancy as your baby grows and your body adapts and prepares for labor, delivery, nursing, and healing. Because no two bodies are exactly the same, weight gain will look different for each person. But it's important to remember that all bodies need to gain weight during pregnancy.

Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins can help you get the extra iron, folic acid, and other nutrients required to meet your pregnancy needs. They are not meant to replace nutrients from food but rather fill in gaps and support increased nutrient needs while assisting you with consistent nutrient intake.

Before you begin taking prenatal vitamins, consult your health care practitioner for recommendations and be aware that many prenatals do not contain much calcium or omega 3 fatty acids. These are usually needed separately.

Pregnancies With Special Needs

Pregnant people with special needs, may have additional or modified nutrient requirements during pregnancy. You might benefit from working with a registered dietitian if you are:

  • Are anemic (low iron)
  • Have a multiple pregnancy
  • Are a teenager
  • Have diabetes
  • Are vegan
  • Have an eating disorder, disordered eating, or a history of chronic dieting
  • Feel overwhelmed or confused by nutrition recommendations during pregnancy

A Word From Verywell

When you're pregnant, your body requires more of certain nutrients like protein, iron, folic acid, iodine, and calcium. For this reason, it's important to choose nutritious foods and take the prenatal vitamins your healthcare provider recommends.

You also should be sure to stay hydrated and address any special concerns you have. By being mindful of what you're eating and drinking, you will give your body and your baby the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. How much water should I drink during pregnancy? Updated October 2020.

  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Eating healthy during pregnancy. Updated October 15, 2020.

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