What resources are available to encourage healthy eating habits during the prenatal period?



Good nutrition during pregnancy is essential for both mom and baby. Eating well can help mom feel better and more energized, set the stage for an easier labor, and lay the foundation for baby’s health. Because the need for some vitamins and minerals is so high during pregnancy, especially for iron, pregnant women should take a prenatal vitamin. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out which type of prenatal vitamin is best for you.

Each trimester is different, so here are some tips to get you through each:

  • 1st trimester: women do not need any additional calories in their first trimester. A healthy diet including plenty of water and a prenatal vitamin are usually enough to support the developing baby and placenta during this time
  • 2nd trimester: women need approximately 300-350 additional calories in the 2nd trimester. This can be done by adding 2 healthy snacks to your diet, for example, an apple with peanut butter and a handful of baby carrots in the morning, and a bowl of whole grain cereal with low-fat milk in the evening
  • 3rd trimester: women need an additional 400-450 calories. This can be achieved by eating slightly larger portions at 1 or 2 meals or snacks, or by adding another small snack during the day, like a low-fat yogurt, handful of nuts, or hummus with whole wheat pita bread

Your doctor or dietitian may need to modify the above recommendations, depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, overall health, and history of medical conditions during previous pregnancies (like gestational diabetes).

Pregnant moms should avoid alcohol; seafood high in mercury (swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish); undercooked or raw meat, eggs or seafood; deli meats and hot dogs; and unpasteurized milk, juice and cheese (many types of brie, feta, camembert, bleu cheese and Mexican-style cheese). Limit or eliminate caffeine, and talk to your doctor about any herbal teas or supplements you take.

You can get your own customized daily food plan for pregnant moms at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/daily-food-plans/moms.html.

You can find more information about nutrition and pregnancy at  http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/pregnancynutrition.html.  A pregnancy and nutrition resource list is available at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/pubs/bibs/topics/pregnancy/pregcon.pdf

This post was written by Monica Griffin, MS, RD, LD.