Pregnancy Healthy Eating and Weight Gain Guide

Basics of a healthy pregnancy diet:

  • Try to eat a variety of foods (especially if you’re having morning sickness, intense cravings, or not feeling hungry). This will help ensure you’re getting the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need.
  • You’ll need to increase calorie consumption during pregnancy (more detail below). These calories are to help with the growth and development of your baby and for the numerous changes in your own body needed to promote a healthy pregnancy.
  • During pregnancy, expecting mothers having higher RDAs for most nutrients. Food labels show the Recommended Daily Allowance of nutrients you need every day.

Some key nutrients you should consume and the amount of each are seen below:

  • Calcium (1,000mg)- can get from milk, cheese, yogurt, sardines
  • Iron (27mg)- lean red meats, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals
  • Vitamin A (770micrograms)- carrots, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes
  • Vitamin C (85mg)- citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries
  • Vitamin B6- beef, liver, pork, whole-grain cereals, bananas
  • Vitamin B12 (2.6micrograms)- liver, meat, fish, poultry (found only in animal foods; vegetarians who do not eat any animal foods should take a supplement)
  • Folate* (600micrograms)- green leafy vegetables, liver, OJ, legumes, nuts

*Pregnant women need extra iron and folic acid. These levels are normally met through a prescribed pill/supplements, like a prenatal vitamin. Ask your doctor or nurse how you should meet these increased needs or before taking any vitamins, herbs, or other supplements that are not prescribed for you.

  • Healthy eating during pregnancy also means avoiding potentially harmful substances; including alcohol, illegal drugs, cigarettes, fish with high levels of mercury, and caffeine.
  • During at least the last 6 months of pregnancy, you need to eat or drink about 100 more calories per day than you did before you were pregnant.

Weight gain during pregnancy

  • There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to pregnancy weight gain and exactly how much you gain is dependent on your weight before pregnancy. A general rule of thumb for healthy weight gain is between 25 and 35 pounds. However, if you are overweight it’s recommended to gain less, or if you are underweight its recommended to gain more.

A break down of weight gain looks like this:

Pre-pregnancy weight            Recommended weight gain (pounds)

Underweight                           28-40

Normal weight                        25-35

Overweight                             15-25

Obese                                     At least 15

  • Talk with your doctor about the amount of weight you can expect to gain. Weight gain also varies if you’re having twins or triplets.
  • If you start out at a healthy weight, you need to gain only a few pounds in the first few months of pregnancy. You can do this with an extra 150-200 calories/day.
  • Steady weight gain is more important in the second and third trimesters. This often means 3 to 4 pounds a month until delivery. An extra 300 calories a day might be enough to help you meet this goal.

The important thing to remember is that you should gain this weight by eating healthy foods rather then scarffing down potato chips, ice cream, and pizza.

3 Responses to Pregnancy Healthy Eating and Weight Gain Guide

rosie says:

A really well written and factual article.

Marci says:


This question is for the author of this article: where did you get the information that pregnant woman should be consuming 100calories extra per day in the last six months of pregnancy?

I double-checked this information, and virtually every single government health sight says that pregnant women should consume a minimum of 250-300 *extra* calories per day during the last six months of pregnancy. I realize that many women are trying to be tiny during pregnancy, but 100 calories extra is too few – can’t this endanger the fetus?

Or was this a typo in your article?


Marci says:

I’m referring to this bullet point in your article:

“During at least the last 6 months of pregnancy, you need to eat or drink about 100 more calories per day than you did before you were pregnant.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *