A pregnant woman’s health is tied to a healthy pregnancy, and a nutritious diet plan is essential for a healthy baby. Getting started before getting pregnant is ideal but it’s never too late to start eating healthy at any point in your pregnancy. Not only will it help in the growth and health of your child — it will also keep you feeling at your best and even help towards easier labor.
When you’re building a prenatal nutrition plan, pay close attention to daily recommended servings of every food group. Most prenatal nutritionists and providers recommend prenatal vitamins to help round out the nutrients needed during a healthy pregnancy.
Nutritionists recommend the following amount of nutrients daily:
- Protein: 75-100 g or 2-3 servings of:
- Fully cooked fish or seafood
- Lean red meat
- ⅓ cup of nuts
- ½ cup of tofu
- ½ cup of legumes
- Folic acid and other vitamins: 0.6-0.8 mg or 2-3 servings each of:
- 1 cup dark, leafy vegetables
- ½ cup of fruit
- ½ cup of whole grains
- Calcium: 1,000 mg or 3-4 servings of:
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 large egg
- 1.5 oz pasteurized cheese
- 1 cup turnip greens
- 1 cup cabbage
- ⅓ cup almonds
- Iron: 27 mg or 2-3 servings of:
- Collard greens
- 3 oz red meat
Staying hydrated is extremely important, so don’t forget to drink eight or more large glasses of water.
Recommended Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Weight gain usually occurs at a smooth, gradual rate during pregnancy:
- For the first three months, expect to gain a total of 2-5 pounds.
- During the remaining six months, the normal rate of weight gain is about 2-6 pounds per month or one pound per week.
A variety of weight gain levels can result in healthy babies. What’s important is to gain enough weight to keep you and your baby healthy.
Range of Weight Gain
- If you start pregnancy underweight, the recommended total weight gain is 28-40 pounds.
- If you start pregnancy at a desirable weight and are carrying only one baby, the recommended total weight gain is 25-35 pounds.
- If you start pregnancy overweight, the recommended total weight gain is 15-25 pounds.
- If you start pregnancy very overweight, the recommended total weight gain is 15 pounds.
- If you are pregnant with twins, the recommended total weight gain is 35-45 pounds.
The amount of weight gain needed depends on your height and weight before becoming pregnant. Women who are shorter than 5'2" should gain weight within the lower ranges. Teenagers and women who smoke should gain weight within the upper ranges.
Psychological Aspects of Pregnancy Weight Changes
The topic of weight and weight gain can be a source of concern and anxiety for some women. However, pregnancy is the ideal time to embrace your body as it gradually changes in shape and size. Remember, pregnancy is a temporary state. With good nutrition and exercise, there’s every reason to expect that you’ll return to your pre-pregnancy weight after your baby is born and your body has recovered from the birth.
These guidelines were developed to help you get the best possible nutrition for you and your baby. They’re only recommendations and may need to be adjusted if you’re underweight or overweight, unable to eat, have special dietary needs or food allergies; or if you’re carrying more than one baby. If you’re concerned about weight gain or need help using a food guide, talk to your healthcare provider about a referral to a prenatal nutritionist.