Nutrition During Pregnancy

Women consume an average of 2,000 calories daily. When pregnant some 340 extra calories per day are needed in the second trimester and 450 extra calories in the third trimester.

The foods eaten by a woman while pregnant could impact a child’s development, both positively and negatively.

Key Nutrients for Pregnant Moms

Folic Acid
Eat beans, legumes, citrus fruits, juices
(more in the first trimester to reduce risk of defects such as spina bifida)

Consume low-fat dairy products, dark green vegetables, fortified orange juice, soy products
(key in second the third trimester for bone and teeth development)

Take a pre-natal vitamin with iron or iron supplement to get enough, especially in combination with vitamin C to boost absorption

Eat meat, seafood, nuts, whole grains, legumes
(to cut birth defects, restricted fetal growth and premature delivery)

Consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains
(reduce constipation and possibly hemorrhoids)

Top Food Choices for Pregnant Moms

Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, cooked greens, winter squash, tomatoes, red sweet peppers
(for vitamin A and potassium; in canned form, look for “low sodium” or “no salt” on the label)

Melons, mangoes, prunes, bananas, apricots, oranges, grapefruit, 100% juice
(for potassium and vitamins)

Fat-free or low-fat yogurt, skim milk or 1% milk, calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage)
(for calcium and potassium; choose “fortified with vitamins A and D”)

Fortified ready-to-eat cereals, fortified cooked cereals
(look for cereals made from whole grains and fortified with iron and folic acid)

Beans and peas
(for iron, potassium and fiber choose pinto beans, soybeans, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas)

Nuts and seeds
(for vitamin E choose sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, peanuts and peanut butter)

Lean beef, lamb, pork
(for heme-iron)

Oysters, mussels, crab, salmon, trout, herring, sardines, Pollock
(for omega-3 fatty acids)

Snacks For Pregnant Moms

Pregnant women can keep their energy up by eating more than three times per day.

  • For snacks consider:
  • dark-hued fruits and colorful vegetables
  • smoothies made with yogurt, fruit and fruit juices
  • apples and cheese
  • egg on a whole wheat muffin
  • trail mix that includes nuts and seeds
  • yogurt parfait
  • granola
  • cottage cheese
  • avocado on crackers
  • hummus and tomatoes
Pregnant women should avoid

Alcoholic beverages – These increase your chances of stillbirth, miscarriage and giving birth to a child with a birth defect

Seafood and fish with high amounts of mercury – Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish

Undercooked seafood and other animal foods – Avoid just because there’s a chance of foodborne illness

Unpasteurized foods – Again, you’re opening the door to the potential of foodborne illness. So avoid unwashed fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized eggs, raw cookie dough or cake batter, homemade eggnog and soft cheeses

Products made from unpasteurized milk – No queso blanco, queso fresco and queso panela, brie, feta, camembert, Roquefort, or blue-veined cheeses

Caffeine – Limit soda and coffee to less than 12 oz. a day

Herbal teas – These could negatively impact your baby’s development and research is ongoing. Consult with your physician

Hot dogs and luncheon meats – Deli meats and frankfurters may contain listeria. Avoid during pregnancy.


Nutrition 4 Young Children
The Mickle Center, 1620 Pleasant Street, Ste. 249, Des Moines, IA 50314

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies


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