Nutrition in Pregnancy

Good nutrition during your pregnancy is important for both you and your baby.

Learn about nutrition in pregnancy, healthy eating, weight gain, food safety, during pregnancy, labor and delivery, postpartum, vitamin and mineral supplements, BMI, listeriosis, toxoplasma, alcohol, caffeine, smoking, drugs, herbal or alternative remedies, artificial sweeteners and other recommendations from LVHN.

A balanced daily diet includes:

  • At least three servings of low-fat, calcium-rich foods (such as skim or 1 percent milk, Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese)
  • Three or four servings of lean protein (such as skinless chicken or turkey breast, lean pork, fish, seafood, eggs, low-fat cheese, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, peanut butter)
  • Two to four servings of fruit
  • Three to five servings of vegetables
  • Whole grains

Go to www.choosemyplate.gov for more general nutrition information.

Supplements to your diet

A daily prenatal vitamin is recommended during pregnancy. Ask your doctor if you need other supplements, such as calcium, vitamin D and iron. If you are a vegetarian or have had gastric bypass, vitamin B12 supplementation may be needed.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the growth and development of the baby. In pregnancy, 200 mg of DHA is recommended. Food sources of DHA include low-mercury fish, nuts, vegetable oils (canola, olive and soybean) and foods fortified with DHA (such as orange juice and eggs). You also can take an omega-3 supplement. Many prenatal vitamins now also include DHA.

Nutrition precautions during pregnancy

Avoid high-mercury fish, such as shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel. Fish that have small amounts of mercury are OK to eat in limited amounts (12 ounces per week). Low-mercury fish include flounder, shrimp, cod, scallops, haddock, salmon, sole, tilapia and canned light tuna. Albacore (white tuna) or fresh tuna should be limited to 6 ounces a week. Check with your local health department about the safety of fish caught in local waters.

Liver should be avoided or very limited in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, due to its high levels of vitamin A.

Reduce your risk for listeriosis, toxoplasmosis and other bacterial infections by following these guidelines:

  • Heat deli meats, hot dogs and leftovers to steaming hot.
  • Avoid raw or undercooked meats, poultry, eggs, fish and shellfish.
  • Avoid soft Mexican cheeses, homemade cheeses, brie, feta, blue cheese and Camembert.
  • Avoid unpasteurized juices, such as apple cider.
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk.
  • Avoid raw sprouts (alfalfa, bean).
  • Avoid changing cat litter.

Additional concerns

Other considerations for a healthy pregnancy include:

  • Avoid alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Limit caffeinated beverages to one to two cups daily.
  • Avoid smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Avoid all drugs during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Consider herbal supplements as suspect until safety during pregnancy can be assured.
  • Artificial sweeteners generally are recognized as safe in moderate amounts (three servings a day).

Special nutrition considerations during pregnancy

If you are having multiple babies, or have hypertension (high blood pressure) going into pregnancy, or you are entering pregnancy with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25, your LVHN health care provider may make additional nutrition recommendations and suggest that you meet with a registered dietitian.