Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Quick tips

Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Quick tips

When you are pregnant, you need more of certain nutrients like protein, iron, folic acid, and iodine. It’s also important to get enough calcium.

Making smart food choices can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Here are some ideas to help you eat healthy during pregnancy.

Follow a healthy eating pattern.

Eating healthy means following a healthy eating pattern that includes a variety of nutritious foods and drinks.

  • Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and protein foods.
  • Choose foods and drinks with less added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium (salt).
  • Limit refined grains and starches, which are in foods like cookies, white bread, and some snack foods.
  • If you are feeling sick, try eating a piece of whole-grain toast or whole-grain crackers.

Learn more about eating healthy.

Get the right amount of calories for you.

Being pregnant doesn't mean you need to eat twice as much food.

  • First trimester (first 12 weeks) – Most women don’t need any extra calories.
  • Second trimester (13 to 26 weeks) – Most women need about 340 extra calories a day.
  • Last trimester (after 26 weeks) – Most women need about 450 extra calories a day.

Ask your doctor or midwife about the right amount of calories for you during pregnancy.

Create a personalized Daily Food Plan.

Make healthy snack choices.
Examples of healthy snacks include:

  • Low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fruit (look for options with no added sugar)
  • Whole-grain crackers with fat-free or low-fat cheese
  • Carrots with hummus

Take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid, iron, and iodine every day.

  • Folic acid helps prevent some birth defects of the brain and spine.
  • Iron and iodine help keep you and your baby healthy.

Talk with your doctor or nurse about a prenatal vitamin that’s right for you.

Eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood each week.

Fish and shellfish have healthy fats that are good for you and your baby. But some fish is high in mercury, a metal that can hurt your baby’s development. It’s a good idea to eat seafood that is high in healthy fats but lower in mercury.

Best choices

These choices are lower in mercury, so you can eat 8 to 12 ounces a week.

  • Canned light tuna
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Herring
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Shad
  • Shrimp
  • Tilapia
  • Trout

Good choices

You can eat 4 ounces of these fish a week if you don’t eat any other seafood that week.

  • Canned or fresh white (albacore) tuna
  • Chilean sea bass or striped bass
  • Grouper
  • Halibut
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Snapper
  • Yellowfin tuna

Fish to avoid

Don’t eat bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, or tilefish. They are high in mercury.

Learn more about choosing fish that is healthy and safe to eat [PDF - 308 KB].

Don’t eat certain foods.

These foods may have bacteria in them that can hurt your baby. Stay away from:

  • Raw (uncooked) or rare (undercooked) fish or shellfish, like sushi or oysters
  • Soft cheeses (like feta, Brie, and goat cheese), unless they are pasteurized
  • Raw or rare (undercooked) meats, poultry, or eggs
  • Unpasteurized juices or milk
  • Lunch or deli meats, smoked seafood, and hot dogs – unless they are heated until steaming hot
  • Prepared salads like ham salad, chicken salad, or seafood salad
  • Raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts

Learn more about foods to avoid during pregnancy.

Limit drinks with caffeine and added sugars.

  • If you drink coffee or tea, choose decaf. Pick unsweetened options and don’t add sugar.
  • Drink water or seltzer instead of drinks with added sugars like soda, fruit drinks, and energy or sports drinks.

Don’t drink alcohol.

No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.