Your healthy diet during pregnancy
It’s important to eat smart and make healthy food choices to support your baby’s growth during pregnancy. Try to eat foods from each of the five food groups every day. They provide important nutrients that you and your baby need.
In general, most women need around 300 extra calories per day during pregnancy. (One extra healthy snack, such as four fig bars and a glass of skim milk, will provide these calories.) However, the exact amount of extra calories you need depends on your weight before pregnancy. Talk to your health provider to learn more about a healthy eating plan that’s right for you. Be sure to watch your serving sizes; you may be eating more than you need to.
Remember: Fatty foods (like doughnuts and chips) and sweets (like sodas, cookies and candy) don’t give your baby enough of what he needs to grow.
Healthy eating hints
Meals: Eat four to six smaller meals a day instead of three bigger ones to help relieve the heartburn and discomfort you feel as your baby grows bigger.
Snacks: Cheese, yogurt, fruit and vegetables are good, healthy snacks. Peanut butter and nuts are also good, if you aren’t allergic to them.
Liquids: Drink at least six to eight glasses of water, juice or milk every day.
Vitamins: Take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin every day. Ask your health care provider if you need to take an iron or calcium supplement, too.
Caffeine: Limit the caffeine you get each day to 200 milligrams. That’s about the amount in one 12-ounce cup of coffee. Caffeine amounts in coffee depend on the brand you drink and how it’s made. So check the label on the package, or ask at your coffee shop. Instead of drinking regular coffee, try coffee that’s decaffeinated (has a smaller amount of caffeine). Caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, soda and some over-the-counter medicine. Read labels on food, drinks and medicine to know how much caffeine you’re getting.
Foods to avoid
Some foods can make you and your baby sick. Avoid these foods that can cause food poisoning or contain harmful chemicals:
- Raw fish, especially shellfish
- Soft-scrambled eggs and foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs
- Unpasteurized juices
- Raw sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts
- Unpasteurized milk and any foods made from it
- Unpasteurized soft cheeses, such as brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco and Panela
- Herbal supplements and teas
- Fish that can be high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. It’s OK for pregnant women to eat a limited amount of fish that have small amounts of mercury. You can eat up to 12 ounces of these fish a week. The 12 ounces can include shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish and canned light tuna. Don’t eat more than 6 ounces of Albacore (white tuna) in one week. Always check with your local health department before you eat any fish you catch yourself.
- Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood and hot dogs. Deli meats (such as ham and bologna) can cause food poisoning. Avoid them or reheat them before eating.
- Refrigerated pates, meat spreads or smoked seafood. Canned and shelf-stable versions are safe.