Nutrition During Pregnancy

Maintaining a balanced diet and staying physically active while pregnant are important ways to care for yourself and your baby.

Eat a healthy diet during pregnancy

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential to a healthy pregnancy. Healthy eating habits should be started right away. It’s a good idea to begin eating healthy even before becoming pregnant.

Your food intake will determine the nutrition that the growing baby receives. Providing your baby and your own body with the right balance of nutrition helps the pregnancy to progress normally and the baby to become strong and healthy.

Calorie intake

Although it seems like you should be “eating for two,” you should only increase your calorie intake about 300 calories per day. You should expect to gain about 1 pound per week in the second and third trimester for a total weight gain of about 20-30 lbs.

Overweight women may be counseled to gain little or no weight in the pregnancy to avoid the complications of gestational diabetes and difficult birth.

Especially in the first trimester when nausea can be common, make sure you are taking in enough good calories and vitamins, as well as fluids. If you are having a hard time keeping food or liquids down, talk to your doctor.

What to eat

Eating the proper balance of fats, dairy, proteins, vegetables, fruit, and grains will ensure you and your baby are getting the right amount of nutrients during pregnancy. For serving size and type suggestions, you can follow the USDA’s “MyPlate” illustration (an updated version of the food pyramid).

Consult with your doctor about proper diet and adjustments in what you eat during pregnancy, particularly for iron and calcium intake. Prenatal vitamins are an excellent supplement to your diet that can help ensure proper vitamin and mineral intake.

What not to eat

Pregnant women should avoid drinking alcohol, limit caffeine intake, and refrain from eating raw fish or seafood that can be high in mercury (such as tuna or swordfish).

Additionally, you should decrease the fat and cholesterol in your diet, and avoid soft cheeses like Brie or Gorgonzola (which may be unpasteurized and could carry listeria).


It’s ok to give in to certain pregnancy cravings – as long as the food types are nutritious, providing energy or essential vitamins and other nutrients. If you find yourself craving unhealthy or junk foods, try to moderate how much you allow yourself to eat to maintain a balanced diet.

Some women develop a craving for non-food items – such as dirt, paint, or coffee grounds – during pregnancy. This condition is called pica and has been linked to an iron deficiency. Discuss strange cravings or non-food item consumption with your doctor.

Exercise during pregnancy

Staying active during pregnancy will also help your body stay in shape and be ready for labor and delivery.
Learn more about exercise and fitness during pregnancy.