Pregnant Woman








Pregnancy And You

Important Nutrients

Menu Suggestions





Pregnancy And You

Pregnancy is a normal physiological process - and it is a time when the nutritional needs of the mother and the fetus must be met through careful choice of foods. It is important to gain weight during pregnancy - current recommendations indicate that 25 - 35 pounds of weight gain is appropriate. Eating right during the pregnancy is a good time to establish healthy eating patterns for life.

Eating well during pregnancy does not mean following a "special diet" or eating foods that are not well tolerated. It does mean that attention needs to be paid to getting a good variety of foods in the diet each day and that adequate calories from foods that are high in nutrition are consumed. It does mean that "empty calorie" or "junk" foods need to be consumed sparingly. Aim for a diet with 50% of calories from carbohydrate, 20% from protein and less than 30% from fat.

The pregnant woman only requires about 300 calories more per day than the non-pregnant woman. However, the need for many nutrients increases during pregnancy. Therefore every calorie needs to carry other nutrients with it also.

When thinking of food, the most important question to ask during pregnancy is:

"Does this food give my baby and me nutrients or just calories?"

If the answer is "just calories", then make a different food choice. Choose different foods daily, try to consume five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and Vegetables are very high in nutrients and are very important in the over-all health of mom and baby.

The USDA Food Guide Pyramid is a good way to monitor the variety of foods consumed each day.
A pregnant woman needs the following amounts each day:

  • 9 - 11 servings of breads, cereal, pastas and grains
  • 3 - 4 servings from the vegetable group
  • 2 - 3 servings from the fruit group
  • 3 servings from the milk group
  • 2 servings from the meat group, for a total of 6 ounces

The serving sizes recommended by the USDA are small, so this is really a very reasonable amount of food. Check out the sample menus below.

You can get a copy of "The Food Guide Pyramid" booklet by sending a $1.00 check or money order made out to the Superintendent of Documents to Consumer Information Center, Department 159-Y, Pueblo, Colorado 81009.

Many of the additional nutrient needs of the pregnant woman can be met by increasing the servings of fruits and vegetables and by choosing fruits and vegetables that are especially nutrient rich. Choose produce such as cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce, ethnic leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, winter squash, and citrus fruits. Choosing whole grain breads and cereals will also help to increase the nutrient content of the diet. Look for the words whole wheat, oats, bran, whole grain on food labels.

Vegetarian women who consume dairy products and eggs can get an adequate diet during pregnancy, but should carefully monitor their iron level with their physician. Vegans or women who eat no animal products need additional supplements including vitamin B-12 and should discuss their diet with a Registered Dietitian and consider using vitamin and mineral supplements during the pregnancy.

Teenagers who are pregnant need to be especially careful to eat nutrient rich foods, because they are not only supplying the needs for the growing fetus, they are continuing to supply their own growth needs.