Nutrition can feel like a stressful topic — especially as it relates to pregnancy. You might be struggling to figure out what’s “good” and what’s “bad.” Try to remember that you’re not alone with these concerns. Luckily, food is just food. It’s not bad or good or right or wrong. It comes down to knowing what makes you feel the most nourished, energized, satisfied, and comfortable during your pregnancy. Here are a few nutrition tips for pregnancy.
Learn the facts
First of all, try to remember that your nutritional needs will change as you go through each trimester. You’ll also probably experience a variety of cravings and aversions – especially early on. If you’re unable to eat much or have any questions about your meals, make sure to reach out to your doctor. They can help you think about next steps. You may have to get creative to find foods that both agree with your stomach and give you plenty of energy. Taking a prenatal vitamin helps support your body during these times when many foods don’t sound good to you.
During pregnancy, drinking plenty of water is important for helping with placenta growth, blood volume increase, and amniotic fluid formation. Staying hydrated also helps prevent premature labor and other issues like bladder infections. Try to drink at least 8 (8-oz) glasses of water a day. It’s also a good idea to eat fruits and vegetables that are rich in water.
When pregnant, your body is making more red blood cells to provide oxygen-rich blood to your little one. This requires more iron intake, so you’ll want to find foods you enjoy that help support this increased need.
Consume more fiber
Pregnancy hormones are often the cause of significant constipation. The best way to ensure consistency is by consuming plenty of fiber on a daily basis. Starting the day with oatmeal, whole grains, flaxseed or a vegetable-rich smoothie are some of the ways you can keep things moving. Bonus, these foods are also helpful in regulating blood sugar if you’re at risk for gestational diabetes.
Remember to eat breakfast
It’s important to start the day with a nutritious, wholesome meal. Eating breakfast provides another food opportunity to help you meet your nutrient needs to support you and baby. Fueling yourself from the start is a great way to feel nourished throughout the day. It also supports brain function and heart health. Try to find a combination of foods that work for you. Meals that combine carbohydrates, fats, and protein and include fiber will help get you long lasting energy to get you through until your next snack or meal.
Keep up with the fatty fish
Fish is a great source of healthy fats that are very important for your hormone supply and your baby’s brain and hormone development. However, fish are also carriers of high mercury content due to water pollution. So being intentional about the types of fish you’re eating is very important. In general, you should avoid large ocean fish like swordfish, tuna, and orange roughy as they have the highest levels of mercury. Stick to smaller fish like catfish, salmon, shrimp etc. And check out Ovia’s Food safety look up tool!
You don’t have to give up coffee, but try to be mindful about consumption. More than 200mg of caffiene a day has been linked to miscarriage. So Stick to one 8-ounce cup per day. One way to ease into this transition is to use half caffeinated beans and half decaf for your morning brew.
Try to eat an early dinner
Heartburn caused by acid reflux is common during pregnancy and can be made worse by eating just before you lay down to go to bed. See if you can give yourself at least 2 hours between your last meal or snack of the day and bedtime. Digestion in pregnancy is somewhat slower than when you are not pregnant so this gives your body a chance to digest a bit so the food isn’t as close to your esophagus when you lie down.
Drink seltzer water
If you’ve been uncomfortable with heartburn/acid reflux, nausea, or other stomach related issues, try seltzer water. Sipping this can help settle your tummy and be hydrating at the same time. For some, it’s easier to get more sips of the bubbly than it is still water. And many are flavored which can help with nausea too.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- Lee, Tae Sic, et al. “Habit of Eating Breakfast Is Associated with a Lower Risk of Hypertension.” Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Sept. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5115204/.
- Takagi, Hisato, et al. “Meta-Analysis of Relation of Skipping Breakfast with Heart Disease.” The American Journal of Cardiology, Excerpta Medica, 25 June 2019, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002914919307209.
- Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Advice about Eating Fish.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish.