Eat The Right Foods To Have A Healthy Pregnancy

Subarna Ghosal

Updated on:


The most wonderful and gifted period of every women’s life is MOTHERHOOD. For getting into a period of motherhood a woman goes through a lot of physiological and psychological changes. Pregnancy is the physiological condition where your body goes through many changes which include physiological, hormonal as well as emotional changes.

The Three Trimesters of pregnancy :

The first trimester or the first 3months are marked by rapid changes for both you and your baby. physical changes might include breast tenderness, fatigue, and nausea. And for your baby, the first trimester is a time of rapid growth and development.

During the second trimester of pregnancy, you might feel better than you felt in the first trimester.And your baby might begin to seem more clear. Second-trimester signs and symptoms include bigger  breasts, a growing belly and in some cases skin changes

The third trimester can definitely be physically and emotionally challenging. Third-trimester signs and symptoms are backaches, heartburn, etc. Your baby will likely open its eyes and an increase in weight and size.

Follow these Basic Rules of Nutrition:

  • Proper balanced nutrition is to meet the added demands on your body as well as those of your fetus.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is very important and it is very important to focus on the right food intake.
  • As your body needs additional nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Poor eating habits and excess weight gain increase your risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy complications
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help your baby get the nutrients it needs and grow at a healthy rate. 

Various macro and micronutrients play a vital role in the system:


  • Pregnant women need between 2,200 calories -2,900 calories a day
  • The first trimester does not require any more calories.
  • Second trimester – demand for an additional 340 calories a day
  • Third trimester-  450 calories more a day than when not pregnant.
  • Additional calories should come from foods including lean protein, whole grains, dairy, vegetables, and fruit.
  • The calorie requirement mentioned above is for women with a normal weight range for there body.
  • However, it keeps on varying for women based on age, body size, pre-pregnancy weight, and lifestyle.

Other macronutrients are as follows:

1) Carbohydrates:-

They are the body’s main fuel that powers all of its activities.

  • Simple carbohydrates provide a quick energy boost.
  • They are easily digested and absorbed rapidly.
  • But they are often high in calories.
  • It is always advisable to limit your intake of simple carbohydrates to those found naturally in food.
  • Complex takes longer to process in the body
  • they provide long-lasting energy than simple carbohydrates.
  • During your pregnancy period, you need a “complex carbohydrates”.


  • Whole grain bread and brown rice, oatmeal, legumes, and starchy veggies, fresh fruits.
  • Though fresh fruits do contain sugars (simple carbohydrates), they are also a great source of fiber and other vital nutrients.
  • Servings: 9 to 11 servings of carbohydrates per day. But the carbohydrates of your diet should come mostly from whole grains. 

2) Fiber: –

  • Fiber is what your body cannot digest.
  • It can help to add bulk to the stool, making it easier to pass.
  • You should try incorporating  25 grams of fiber daily.

Fiber-rich foods are:

  1. whole-wheat bread or brown rice.
  2. Fruits (especially, oranges, dried fruits, berries, apples, and peaches with the skin).
  3. Vegetables (peas, dried beans and leafy vegetables like spinach and kale).

3) Fats:

  • During pregnancy, the fats provide energy and help build many fetal organs and the placenta.
  • Too much saturated fat and trans-fat can lead to health problems.
  • Try to avoid taking margarine, mayonnaise, butter, lard, vanaspati, etc
  • Fats must account for 20–35% of your total food intake that’s about 6 tablespoons per day. The fats and oils in your diet should come from unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, peanut oil.

4) Protein : –

  • Protein helps in the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain.
  • It helps in breast and uterine tissue development.
  • It plays a role in increasing blood supply.
  • Recommendations :75 to 100grams /day
  • Sources of protein are
  • Fully cooked fish or seafood with the exception of few mentioned below
  • liver
  • lean chicken
  • lean beef
  • porK
  • Various combination of nuts like almonds, walnuts, etc
  • tofu
  • Milk, yogurt, etc
  • Pulses(vegetable protein)

5) Vitamins and Minerals : –

  • It’s definite during pregnancy to take a prenatal vitamin to help cover any nutritional gaps in your mother’s diet.
  • But still one needs to be supervised by a physician.
  • Prenatal vitamins contain many vitamins and minerals like folic acid, iron, iodine, and calcium which are especially important.
  • It is also very to remember that with a healthy balanced, you should be able to get the full amount of these vitamins and minerals.
Nutrient (Daily recommended) Why You and Your fetus Need it? Best Sources of them
Calcium Builds strong bones and
Milk, cheese, green leafy vegetables. yogurt, sardines.
Iron Helps red blood cell to deliver oxygen to your, baby Lean red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals, prune juice
Vitamin A Forms healthy skin helps with eyesight, bone growth Carrots, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes.
Vitamin C Vitamin C Promotes healthy gums, teeth, and bones
Vitamin C:  for pregnant women under 18 years of age, 80 mg is suggested; for those above 18 years, 85 mg is recommended.
Citrus fruit, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries

Folic acid

  • It is a B vitamin that is important for pregnant women.
  • Under Doctor’s recommendation, 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for at least 1 month before pregnancy and during pregnancy may help prevent major birth defects of the baby.
  • Pregnant women get at least 600 micrograms of folic acid each day from all sources including food and vitamin supplements.
  • Foods are rich in folic acids like fortified cereal, enriched bread, pasta, dark green leafy vegetables, peanuts, orange juice, beans, citrus fruits, and dried beans, etc.
  • All women who might become pregnant should take a daily vitamin supplement containing folic acid under doctors’ advice.


  • The daily intake for iron during pregnancy is around 27 mg, which is found in most prenatal vitamin supplements.
  • Heme iron is absorbed more easily by the body and is found in animal foods, such as red meat, poultry, and fish.
  • During pregnancy, the blood will be tested during pregnancy to check for anemia.
  • If you are found to be anemic, your health care provider recommends additional iron supplements.

Vitamin D

  • It generally works with calcium to help build your fetus bones and teeth.
  • It also is key for healthy skin and eyesight. While you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • It is recommended under doctor’s supervision that you need 600 international units of vitamin D each day.
  • Pregnant mothers need to make sure they get the recommended amounts of vitamin D during pregnancy for both their own and the healthy development of their baby.
  • The most significant compounds for human development are D2 and D3.
  • A study found women who are taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily had the benefits of preventing preterm labor and infections.
  • Sources
  • Egg yolk, salmon and cod liver oil, however, most vitamin D is consumed through fortified foods like milk.
  • But for  75% of the population who are lactose intolerant, fortified milk products are not a trustworthy source of vitamin D consumption.
  • You can begin by taking more vitamin D containing foods. Sensible sun exposure (usually 5-10 min of exposure of the arms and legs or the hands, arms, and face) can help as well. The best way to really ensure adequate vitamin D is through simple supplementation.  But always choose supplementation under the physician’s advice.

Foods to limit:

All foods are not safe to consume during this condition. Let us know in detail what to limit avoid restrict.


  1. Fish is a good source of lean protein, and fishes like salmon and sardines, also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. According to a study, it is safe for pregnant women to eat 8 to 10 ounces of cooked fish and seafood a week.
  3. However, they should limit albacore or “white” tuna, which has high levels of mercury, to no more than 6 ounces a week, according to ACOG.
  4. Mercury is a metal that can be harmful to a baby’s developing brain.
  5. Let’s go through the below picture about Consumption of Fishes and restrictions during Pregnancy:


  • Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy does not appear to contribute to miscarriage or premature birth.


  • Alcohol in the mother’s blood if consumed can pass directly to the baby through the umbilical cord.
  • So try to avoid taking alcohol as much as possible during this condition.

Food poisoning Foods

  • Do you know that Pregnant women are at high risk of getting sick from two different types of food poisoning:
  • Listeriosis, caused by the Listeria bacteria.
  • Listeria infection cause miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labor, and illness or death in newborns.
  • Toxoplasmosis, parasite infection
  • The USDA recommends avoiding the following foods during pregnancy:
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it, like feta, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses,  Brie, queso Blanco, etc.
  • According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Seafood such as shark, king mackerel, marlin, and tilefish are high in levels of methyl mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • A mother can also  pass a Toxoplasma infection on to her baby, which can cause blindness and mental disability later in life
  • To control it, try avoiding the following foods:
  • Rare, raw or undercooked meats and poultry.
  • Raw fish, like sashimi, ceviches, and carpaccio.
  • Raw and undercooked shellfish, such as mussels, clams, oysters, and scallops.

Simple and easy ways to prevent food poisoning during pregnancy?

  1. Try washing all the raw foods properly before eating, cutting, or cooking.
  2. Try and avoid all undercooked seafood, eggs, and meat.
  3. Try not to consume sushi made with raw fish.
  4. Food s like pork, beef, poultry should be cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  5. Keep your kitchen clean.
  6.  try to wash your hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.

Recommended weight gain during pregnancy.

A woman who was average weight before getting pregnant –

  • normal gain 25 to 35 pounds after becoming pregnant.
  • Underweight women must gain around 28 to 40 pounds.
  • overweight women need to gain just around 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.
Starting weight Body mass index* Recommended weight gain
underweight < 19.8 28 to 40 pounds
normal weight 19.8 to 26.0 25 to 35 pounds
overweight 26.0 to 29.0 15 to 25 pounds
Obese/obesity >29.0 0 to 15 pounds
  • Don’t worry much about the numbers on the weighing scale. Instead of focusing on your weight numbers, you should concentrate on a variety of nutritious foods.
  • Healthy eating is the most important, and dieting to lose weight or prevent weight gain is harmful to you and your baby.
  • But overweight women  should only lose weight under her supervision
  • Women should not try to lose weight or do dieting during pregnancy on their own without medical supervision

Solutions are here :

Your body will like the way you move. Healthy exercise is also key to healthy motherhood.

  • Besides eating a balanced diet, exercising also helps to manage the excess weight gain
  • Swimming and walking are good choices.
  • But you should avoid any extreme sports or sports, like rock climbing and basketball, etc.
  • Always remember to drink plenty of water before, during and post-exercise so that you don’t get dehydrated easily.
  • Make sure to talk to your physician/doctor before you start a new exercise program.
  • Then, let’s kickstart asap. But, one of the most important ways that need to learn during pregnancy is how to breathe?
  • Hence mother-to-be can master the techniques throughout pregnancy. 
  • Proper Breathing is vital during pregnancy
  • It causes efficient removal of waste from the body as well as get a plentiful supply of oxygen for both the mother and child.
Group of young pregnant women in yoga class

Important WHO (World Health Organisation)recommendations:

  • Proper education about healthy eating* and keeping physically active during pregnancy is recommended for pregnant women to stay healthy.
  • Generally, a  healthy diet during pregnancy contains adequate energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals, obtained through the consumption of a variety of foods, like green and orange vegetables, beans, nuts, meat, pasteurized dairy products.
  • Nutrition education is very important in increasing daily energy and protein intake is recommended for pregnant women to reduce the risk of low birth weight neonates.
  • Balancing good nutrition and a healthy diet during pregnancy is critical for the health of the mother and unborn child.
  • Nutrition education plus counseling both are a widely used strategy to improve the nutritional status of women during pregnancy.
  • Promotion of adequate weight gain through sufficient and balanced protein and energy intake.
  • Promotion of a healthy diet by increasing the variation and amount of foods consumed
  • Promoting consistent and continued use of micronutrient supplements.

Let us join our hands and start following the above smart, easily accessible tips as every mother wants to have a smooth pregnancy and a well-nourished healthy child.

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