Getting quality nutrition during your pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for your developing baby. And no matter what your current eating habits are, you’ll probably need to make some adjustments during pregnancy.
Maintaining a healthy pregnancy diet
Best foods to eat while pregnant
- Eggs are protein powerhouses — and check in at under 90 calories. They’re also great sources of choline, which helps with your baby’s brain development and overall growth.
- Yogurt is a great source of calcium, and also packs protein. Even better: It contains probiotics that can help prevent yeast infections, which are common during pregnancy.
- Lentils are excellent sources of folate — which is vital to your baby’s brain and nervous system development. These little legumes also protect against certain birth defects.
- Cooked salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids. They play a key role in the development of your baby’s eyes and brain, and may help reduce the risk of depression during pregnancy.
- Dark green veggies like spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and kale are packed with vital nutrients — they really should be on everyone’s plate. Surprised?
Rethink what it means to eat for 2
Many people think being pregnant means they can eat whatever and whenever they want. After all, you’re eating for 2, right?
Well, not exactly. You really only need about 300 extra calories a day to keep yourself and your baby well nourished. “Eating for 2” isn't about eating more — it’s about eating right and making every calorie count.
Fill your plate with wholesome, nutritious foods like lean proteins and lots of veggies. Avoid high-calorie, low-nutrient choices like sodas, sweets, and processed foods.
Healthy weight gain
If you’re pregnant, you’re supposed to put on a few pounds. But how many?
Gaining too much weight can lead to health problems during pregnancy and complications during labor and delivery, so sticking to a healthy meal plan is important. On the flip side, don’t try any highly restrictive diets while you’re pregnant. Think about it: If you’re skipping meals or cutting out food groups, your baby is, too. And that makes it harder for your little one to get all the nutrients they need.
Healthy eating is just as important after your baby arrives, while your body recovers from the hard work of giving birth. Breastfeeding your baby is hard work, too — it burns around 500 calories a day, and can actually help you lose pregnancy weight more easily. So unless your doctor recommends something different, don’t start a meal plan with restricted calories until you stop breastfeeding.
How much weight should you gain in pregnancy?
Use the chart below to see how much you should gain, and how fast. You’ll need to calculate your body mass index (BMI) first. Keep in mind these are only estimates. We’ll weigh you at all your prenatal appointments and talk about whether you’re gaining too much, too little, or just the right amount.
Healthy weight gain during pregnancy
||Total weight gain (lbs.)
||Rates of weight gain in 2nd and 3rd trimesters (lbs. per week)*
|Underweight: less than 18.5
||28 to 40
||about 1 lb.
|Normal weight: 18.5 to 24.9
||25 to 35
||about 1 lb.
|Overweight: 25.0 to 29.9
||15 to 25
||about 1/2 lb.
|Obese: 30.0 or more
||11 to 20
||about 1/2 lb.
*Institute of Medicine, 2009