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What are the Top Nutrition Priorities During Pregnancy

My pregnant patients are often looking to optimize their nutrition in order to have a healthy pregnancy and keep their baby health. Before I talk about any nutrition priorities, it is important to recognize that for many women, pregnancy is very difficult. People feel nauseous, tired, and stressed while pregnant. A healthy pregnancy is not just about putting a prescribed list of foods into your body. You want to have a calm and peaceful pregnancy too. That being said, here are the most important nutrition priorities during pregnancy.

pregnant woman cooking in the kitchen

Most Important Every Day Nutrition Priorities During Pregnancy

  • If you are nauseous, eat what you tolerate. Nausea during pregnancy can make moms feel miserable, and when it restricts intake, it adds another layer of stress. During the first trimester when nausea is the worst, you don't need any extra calories anyway. Some moms may even lose a few pounds during the first weeks. Just eat what you can and when you can.

  • Eat protein at your meals. As you are able to tolerate more, try to include a protein food at all meals. Some proteins that some people tend to tolerate better are milk, cheese, eggs, nut butter, and chicken. But go with that you feel up to eating.

  • Increase fiber intake before you get constipated. Constipation during pregnancy is very common. Before it becomes a problem for you, make sure you are eating high fiber foods at all meals. Examples of high fiber foods are oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, beans, and nuts.

Other Important Thinks to Know About Nutrition During Pregnancy

  • Take your prenatal vitamin. In reality, the most crucial time to be taking your prenatal vitamin is before you are pregnant and through the first month. This is to make sure you are not deficient in folate when pregnancy starts to allow the neural tube to close in the first month. Folate is the main nutrient of concern that is in the prenatal vitamin. Folate's specific role in pregnancy is to prevent neural tube defects.

  • Avoid foods that can have bacterial contamination. Foods in this category are soft cheeses, undercooked and raw animal proteins, and unpasteurized milk. This is due to the increased risk of parasite and bacteria contamination in these foods, and mom and baby are vulnerable to these at this time.

  • Stay away from high mercury fish. The reason to avoid high mercury fish is to decrease the risk of birth defects. Low mercury fish that are good options during pregnancy are salmon, sardines, and light tuna.

  • Don't drink alcohol. There is not enough research to know if there is a safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy, so the best advice is to just not drink any alcohol at all. This is because consuming enough alcohol during pregnancy can cause a condition called fetal alcohol syndrome, which involves cognitive and other issues in the child.

Nutrition and Pregnancy

Remember that nutrition is only part of your pregnancy. It you find yourself worrying a lot about what you can eat while you are pregnant, talk to your OBGYN or a dietitian. That can help you prioritize what aspects of nutrition are important for your health during pregnancy.

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