Talk to your health care provider about how much weight you should gain. Work with him or her to set goals for your weight gain. Take into account your age, weight, and health. Track your weight at home or at your provider visits using charts from the Institute of Medicine. See Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines in the Resources section
for a link to these charts.
Do not try to lose weight if you are pregnant. Healthy food is needed to help your baby grow. Some women may lose a small amount of weight at the start of pregnancy. Speak to your health care provider if this happens to you.
What if I am a vegetarian
A vegetarian eating plan during pregnancy can be healthy. Talk to your health care provider to make sure you are getting calcium, iron, protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and other needed nutrients. He or she may ask you to meet with a registered dietitian (a nutrition expert who has a degree in diet and nutrition approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has passed a national exam, and is licensed to practice in your state) who can help you plan meals. Your doctor may also tell you to take vitamins and minerals that will help you meet your needs.
A healthy eating plan for pregnancy includes nutrient-rich foods.
Current U.S. dietary guidelines advise eating these foods each day:
A healthy eating plan also limits salt, solid fats (like butter, lard, and shortening), and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods.
- fruits and veggies (provide vitamins and fiber)
- whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice (provide fiber, B vitamins, and other needed nutrients)
- fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or non-dairy soy, almond, rice, or other drinks with added calcium and vitamin D
- protein from healthy sources, like beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood (8 to 12 ounces per week), and unsalted nuts and seeds
Does your eating plan measure up? How can you improve your eating habits? Try eating fruit like berries or a banana with low-fat yogurt for breakfast, a salad with beans for lunch, and a lean chicken breast and steamed veggies for dinner. Think about things you can try. Write down your ideas in the space below and share them with your doctor.
For more about healthy eating, see the MyPlate links in the Resources section
of this fact sheet. They include a link to the online program "Daily Food Plan for Moms." It can help you make an eating plan for each trimester (3 months) of your pregnancy.
Yes. During pregnancy, you need more vitamins and minerals, like folate, iron, and calcium.
Getting the right amount of folate is very important. Folate, a B vitamin also known as folic acid, may help prevent birth defects. Before pregnancy, you need 400 mcg per day. During pregnancy and when breastfeeding, you need 600 mcg per day from foods or vitamins. Foods high in folate include orange juice, strawberries, spinach, broccoli, beans, and fortified breads and breakfast cereals.
Most health care providers tell women who are pregnant to take a prenatal vitamin every day and eat a healthy diet. Ask your doctor about what you should take.
Pregnancy can create some new food and eating concerns. Meet the needs of your body and be more comfortable with these tips:
- Eat breakfast every day. If you feel sick to your stomach in the morning, try dry whole-wheat toast or whole-grain crackers when you first wake up. Eat them even before you get out of bed. Eat the rest of your breakfast (fruit, oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, low-fat milk or yogurt, or other foods) later in the morning.
- Eat high-fiber foods. Eating high-fiber foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting daily physical activity may help prevent constipation. Try to eat whole-grain cereals, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
- If you have heartburn, eat small meals more often. Try to eat slowly and avoid spicy and fatty foods (such as hot peppers or fried chicken). Have drinks between meals instead of with meals. Do not lie down soon after eating.
There are certain foods and drinks that can harm your baby if you have them while you are pregnant. Here is a list of items you should avoid:
- Alcohol. Do not drink alcohol like wine or beer. Enjoy decaf coffee or tea, non-sugar-sweetened drinks, or water with a dash of juice. Avoid diet drinks and drinks with caffeine.
- Fish that may have high levels of mercury (a substance that can build up in fish and harm an unborn baby). You should eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week, but limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week. Do not eat tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
- Anything that is not food. Some pregnant women may crave something that is not food, such as laundry starch or clay. This may mean that you are not getting the right amount of a nutrient. Talk to your doctor if you crave something that is not food. He or she can help you get the right amount of nutrients.
How much physical activity do I need?
Most women need the same amount of physical activity as before they became pregnant. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day on most days of the week. Aerobic activities use large muscle groups (back, chest, and legs) to increase heart rate and breathing.
The aerobic activity should last at least 10 minutes at a time and should be of moderate intensity. This means it makes you breathe harder but does not overwork or overheat you.
If you have health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, or anemia (too few healthy red blood cells), ask your health care provider about a level of activity that is safe for you.
Almost all women can and should be physically active during pregnancy. Regular physical activity may
- help you and your baby gain the right amounts of weight
- reduce backaches, leg cramps, and bloating
- reduce your risk for gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops when a woman is pregnant)
If you were physically active before you became pregnant, you may not need to change your exercise habits. Talk with your health care provider about how to change your workouts during pregnancy.
It can be hard to be physically active if you do not have child care for your other children, have not worked out before, or do not know what to do. Keep reading for tips about how you can work around these things and be physically active.Even if you have not been active before, you can be active during your pregnancy by using the tips below:
- Go for a walk around the block, in a local park, or in a shopping mall with a family member or friend. If you already have children, take them with you and make it a family outing.
- Get up and move around at least once an hour if you sit in a chair most of the day. When watching TV, get up and move around during commercials. Even a simple activity like walking in place can help.