Almost all pregnant women need to get more protein, more of certain vitamins and minerals and more calories.If there’s room for improvement in your diet, eating highly nutritious meals is one of the best things you can do for your baby’s health.t may be hard to get the recommended amount of folic acid from diet alone. For that reason the March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to preventing birth defects, recommends that women who are trying to have a baby take a daily vitamin supplement containing 400 micrograms of folic acid per day for at least one month before becoming pregnant. During pregnancy, they advise women to increase the amount of folic acid to 600 micrograms a day, an amount commonly found in a daily prenatal vitamin.
Goals for Healthy Eating When Pregnant
- Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need. Recommended daily servings include 6-11 servings of breads and grains, two to four servings of fruit, four or more servings of vegetables, four servings of dairy products, and three servings of protein sources (meat, poultry, fish, eggs or nuts). Use fats and sweets sparingly.
- Choose foods high in fiber that are enriched such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables.
- Make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals in your daily diet while pregnant. You should take a prenatal vitamin supplement to make sure you are consistently getting enough vitamins and minerals every day. Your doctor can recommend an over-the-counter brand or prescribe a prenatal vitamin for you.
- Eat and drink at least four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods a day to help ensure that you are getting 1000-1300 mg of calcium in your daily diet during pregnancy.
- Eat at least three servings of iron-rich foods per day to ensure you are getting 27 mg of iron daily.
- Choose at least one good source of vitamin C every day, such as oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, honeydew, papaya, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, green peppers, tomatoes, and mustard greens. Pregnant women need 70 mg of vitamin C a day.
- Choose at least one good source of folic acid every day, like dark green leafy vegetables, veal, and legumes (lima beans, black beans, black-eyed peas and chickpeas). Every pregnant woman needs at least 0.4 mg of folic acid per day to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
- Choose at least one source of vitamin A every other day. Sources of vitamin A include carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, spinach, water squash, turnip greens, beet greens, apricots, and cantaloupe. Know that excessive vitamin A intake (>10,000 IU/day) may be associated with fetal malformations.
Foods to limit
Caffeine: Consuming fewer than 200 mg of caffeine a day, which is the amount found in one 12-ounce cup of coffee, is generally considered safe during pregnancy, according to a 2010 ACOG committee opinion, which was reaffirmed in 2013. The committee report said moderate caffeine consumption does not appear to contribute to miscarriage or premature birth.
Fish: Fish is a good source of lean protein, and some fish, including salmon and sardines, also contain omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that’s good for the heart. It is safe for pregnant women to eat 12 ounces of cooked fish and seafood a week, according to ACOG. However, they should limit albacore or “white” tuna, which has high levels of mercury, to no more than 6 ounces a week, according to ACOG. Mercury is a metal that can be harmful to a baby’s developing brain. Canned light tuna has less mercury and is safer to eat during pregnancy.
Sample Daily Menu
The following sample menu will give you some idea of what a pregnant woman should typically consume in a day for a healthy diet during pregnancy. Three small, but balanced, meals and three light snacks throughout the day are a good rule of thumb to ensure you and your baby’s nutritional needs are met.
Breakfast: Oatmeal cereal, banana, 1 slice whole wheat toast, 2 tsp jam, 1 cup skim milk
Snack: 1 cup yogurt, grapes
Lunch: Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread, small bag potato chips, pear, and 1 cup skim milk
Snack: Raw veggies and low calorie dip
Dinner: 4 oz chicken, 1 cup wild rice, 1 cup veggies, 1 cup skim milk
Snack: fresh fruit or low-fat frozen yogurt