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A balanced, nutritious diet during pregnancy is important
to maintain your health and nourish your
fetus. Be sure to increase your daily caloric intake
by 300 calories after you become pregnant.
The average woman
needs 2,200 calories a day and 2,500 when she is pregnant. If she is carrying
twins, her need increases to 3,500 calories, and for triplets or more, she
needs 4,500 calories.1 Talk to your doctor or a
dietitian about your daily calorie needs because your needs depend on your
height, weight, and activity level.
Your doctor may give you a
nutrition plan to follow throughout pregnancy and while breast-feeding. You may
also receive a prescription for a vitamin and mineral supplement or a list of
recommended nonprescription supplements.
Eating a variety of foods can help you get all the nutrients you need. Your body needs protein, carbohydrate, and fats for energy. Good sources of nutrients are:
Eating healthy foods during pregnancy is good for your overall health and for the health of your baby. You may already have a healthy diet, or you may need to make some changes to eat healthier.
It's also important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These not only give you necessary nutrients but also help you get fiber. Planning your meals can help you add healthy foods to your diet.
Folic acid is a B vitamin. Taking folic acid before
and during early pregnancy reduces the chance of having a baby with a
neural tube defect or other birth defects.
You will need twice
as much iron in your second and third
trimesters as you did before pregnancy. This extra
iron supports the extra blood in your system and helps with the growth of the
placenta and the fetus. Your iron requirements are slight during the
first trimester of pregnancy, and taking iron supplements in the first
trimester may aggravate
After the first
trimester, take a daily supplement containing
30 mg of iron (most prenatal vitamins include
iron). A woman with a multiple pregnancy is advised to take
60 mg to
100 mg of iron daily.3 Iron supplements can cause an upset stomach and
constipation. Taking your iron at bedtime may decrease the chance of stomach
upset. Your body absorbs iron best in small amounts when you eat it with
vitamin C, so you may want to take your iron throughout the day.
Calcium is needed for the
development of the fetus's skeleton. You can get enough calcium in your diet by
eating or drinking 4 servings from the dairy (milk) group each day. Good
sources of calcium from nonmilk sources include:
Newman RB, Rittenberg C (2008). Multiple
gestations. In RS Gibbs et al., eds., Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 220–245. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2009). Folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsnrfol.htm.
Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Multifetal gestation. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 859–889. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Prenatal care. In
Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 189–214. New York:
Other Works Consulted
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2013). Weight gain during pregnancy.
ACOG Committee Opinion No. 548. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 121(1): 210–212.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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