How much should I eat?
Eating healthy foods and the right amount of calories helps you and your baby gain the proper amount of weight.
How much food you need depends on things like your weight before pregnancy, your age, and how fast you gain weight.
In the first 3 months of pregnancy, most women do not need extra calories. You also may not need extra calories during the final weeks of pregnancy.
Check with your doctor about this. If you are not gaining the right amount of weight, your doctor may advise you to eat more calories.
If you are gaining too much weight, you may need to cut down on calories. Each woman’s needs are different.
Your needs depend on if you were underweight, overweight, or obese before you became pregnant, or if you are having more than one baby.
What kinds of foods should I eat?
A healthy eating plan for pregnancy includes nutrient-rich foods. Current U.S. dietary guidelines advise eating these foods each day:
- fruits and veggies (provide vitamins and fiber)
- whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice (provide fiber, B vitamins, and other needed nutrients)
- fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or non-dairy soy, almond, rice, or other drinks with added calcium and vitamin D
- protein from healthy sources, like beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood (8 to 12 ounces per week), and unsalted nuts and seeds
A healthy eating plan also limits salt, solid fats (like butter, lard, and shortening), and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods.
What foods should I avoid?
There are certain foods and drinks that can harm your baby if you have them while you are pregnant. Here is a list of items you should avoid:
Alcohol. Do not drink alcohol like wine or beer. Enjoy decaf coffee or tea, non-sugar- sweetened drinks, or water with a dash of juice. Avoid diet drinks and drinks with caffeine.
Fish that may have high levels of mercury (a substance that can build up in fish and harm an unborn baby).
You should eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week, but limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week. Do not eat tile fish, shark, sword fish, and king mackerel.
Anything that is not food. Some pregnant women may crave something that is not food, such as laundry starch or clay. This may mean that you are not getting the right amount of a nutrient.
Talk to your doctor if you crave something that is not food. He or she can help you get the right amount of nutrients.
What other new eating habits may help my weight gain?
Pregnancy can create some new food and eating concerns. Meet the needs of your body and be more comfortable with these tips:
Eat breakfast every day. If you feel sick to your stomach in the morning, try dry whole-wheat toast or whole-grain crackers when you first wake up. Eat them even before you get out of bed. Eat the rest of your breakfast (fruit, oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, low-fat milk or yogurt, or other foods) later in the morning.
Eat high-fiber foods. Eating high-fiber foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting daily physical activity may help prevent constipation. Try to eat whole-grain cereals, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
If you have heartburn, eat small meals more often. Try to eat slowly and avoid spicy and fatty foods (such as hot peppers or fried chicken). Have drinks between meals instead of with meals. Do not lie down soon after eating.