NUTRITION during Pregnancy

Food in Pregnancy1-4:

  • Healthy food needs are increased during pregnancy for support of unborn baby growth and development along with changes in mother's body and health.
  • Mother’s body and health can be adjusted through the changes of hormones that serve as mediators, indicating the needs of healthy foods to highly specialized organ formed in the uterus during pregnancy.
  • The unborn baby of more than eight weeks after pregnancy depends totally on mother’s food for growth and development.
  • According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pregnant women need a little increase in energy, from 100 kcal per day during the first trimester (first 12 weeks of a pregnancy) to 300 kcal during the second and third trimesters. The Diet women should take during pregnancy is shown in Figure.

Dietary Food Suggestions inPre-Pregnancy and Pregnancy (per day)

Pre-pregnancy Pregnancy Food sources
Energy 1940 kcal +200 kcal in first 12 weeks of a pregnancy only Carbohydrates in vegetables, grains, sugars. Fat in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, poultry, eggs, fish, meat
Fibre - No quantitative suggestion Beans, wholegrain like wheat, rice, bajra, etc., whole meal, pulses, nuts, oats, fruit and vegetables
Protein 45 g + 6 g Meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk products, pea, beans, nuts, kharbuja seeds
Thiamine 0.8 mg + 0.1 mga Vegetables (peas), fruit, eggs, wheat breads, cereals, liverd
Riboflavin 1.1 mg + 0.3 mg Milk, eggs, cereals, rice
Vitamin C 40 mg +10 mg Fruit, vegetables
Folate 200 µg +100 µgb Broccoli, patta govi, liverd, palak, peas, cereals
Vitamin D - +10 µg c Oily fish, eggs, fat, cheese, cereals, some powdered milks, sunlight
Vitamin A 600 µg +100 µg Cheese, eggs, oily fish, low-fat milk products, milk, yoghurt
Niacin 13 mg No increment Meat, fish, wheat flour, eggs, milk
Vitamin B6 1.2 mg No increment Pork, poultry, fish, bread, whole cereals, eggs, vegetables, soya beans, peanuts, milk, potatoes, cereals
Vitamin B12 1.5 g No increment Meat, fish, chicken, milk, cheese, eggs, cereals
Calcium 700 mg No increment Dairy products, green leafy vegetables, soya beans, tofu, nuts, bread with fortified flour and sardines and pilchards
Phosphorus 550 mg No increment Red meat, dairy foods, fish, poultry, bread, brown rice, oats
Magnesium 270 mg No increment Green leafy vegetables, nuts, brown rice, brown bread, fish meat, milk products foods
Sodium 1600 mg No increment Sodium chloride (salt) naturally low levels in all
Chloride 2500 mg No increment Processed foods e.g. ready meals, meat products, cheese, some bread, breakfast cereals, readymade snacks, tin packed vegetables
Potassium 3500 mg No increment Fruit (bananas), some vegetables (broccoli, carrot, cabbage), pulses, nuts, seeds, fish, meat, chicken
Iron 14.8 mg No increment Liverd, meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, whole grains, cereals, soybean flour, green leafy vegetables
Zinc 7.0 mg No increment Meat, fish, dairy foods, bread, cereal products
Copper 1.2 mg No increment Nuts, fish
Selenium 60 µg No increment Nuts, fish, meat, eggs
Iodine 140 µg No increment Fish, cereals, salt

Oily fish (source of omega 3 fatty acids): Two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily.

Caffeine: <200 mg/day (= roughly two mugs of instant coffee).

  • In third trimester (from week 27 to the end of the pregnancy) only.
  • 400 mg folic acid (vitamin B)/day supplement pre-conception until 13 weeks. Higher dose of 5 mg folic acid (vitamin B)/day supplement pre-conception until 13 weeks if patient or partner has a birth defects of the brain or spinal cord or family history of birth defects of the brain or spinal cord, previous pregnancy affected by brain or spinal cord defect, BMI >30 kg/m2, coeliac disease, diabetes or on antiepileptic medication, sickle-cell bloodlessness or little hemoglobin (iron content) in the body.
  • 10 mg supplement is required as this level is not usually achievable through diet. Especially important for those most at risk of deficiency: women of South Asian, African, Caribbean or Middle Eastern family origin, limited exposure to sunlight, diet low in vitamin D (e.g. those women who consume no oily fish, eggs, meat, vitamin D from vegetable oils or animal fats or breakfast cereal), pre-pregnancy BMI >30 kg/m2.
  • Liver is high in vitamin A and high consumption is not recommended in the periconceptional period due to the interference in the development of a unborn baby, causing birth defects risk.

Dietary Food Suggestions in Pre-Pregnancy and Pregnancy (per day)

  • Do’s and Don’ts during pregnancy. Adapted from
  • Proper maternal nutrition during pregnancy planning and pregnancy. Adapted from
  • Picciano MF. Pregnancy and lactation: Physiological adjustments, nutritional requirements and the role of dietary supplements. The Journal of nutrition. 2003 Jun;133(6):1997s-2002s.
  • Ho A, Flynn AC, Pasupathy D. Nutrition in pregnancy. Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Reproductive Medicine. 2016 Sep;26(9):259-264.

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