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Diet and Nutrition During Your Pregnancy

Many women have questions as to what they should and shouldn’t eat during pregnancy, and we know it isn’t always easy finding reliable information on the internet. So, the practitioners at Elite Women’s Care have created a simplified guide to help you make educated nutritional decisions during your pregnancy!

How much weight gain is normal?

Depending on your weight when you begin pregnancy, you can gain from 15 pounds up to 35 pounds. If you are normal weight, the average amount of weight gain is 20-30 pounds. Your pattern of weight gain is also important. Usually the first three months you gain about 1 pound per month. Then you should gain 1 pound per week for the next six months. Aim for at least three meals a day. Six small meals and a bedtime snack may suit you better if you experience nausea or heartburn.

Daily Food Guide and Recommendations by Food Group


Fish consumption during pregnancy may be beneficial since fish contain large amounts of essential fatty acids, which are important in fetal brain development.

Mercury exposure, primarily through ingestion of contaminated fish, can cause severe central nervous system damage, as well as milder intellectual, motor and psychosocial impairment. All pregnant women should avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish.

Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. Commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury include shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish. Make sure all fish are well cooked. No Sushi.

Albacore (white) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna; therefore you should limit yourself to 6 ounces per week or avoid this in your diet. Tuna steak should be avoided.

You can check the mercury level in local species of fish at the FDA food safety website:

Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught in local lakes, rivers or coastal areas.


These foods are a good source of calcium which is needed to build strong bones and teeth in your baby. It is also important for normal muscle activity, heart rhythm, nerve action and blood clotting. If you are lactose intolerant, or have difficulty digesting dairy products, talk with us about trying lactose-reduced milk or soy milk. Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, salmon, sardines and tofu.

Eat hard cheeses instead of soft cheeses during pregnancy. Certain soft cheeses can become contaminated with bacteria called Listeria. (This can cause your baby to become sick or die.) If you do use soft cheeses while pregnant, cook them until they are boiling. Use only pasteurized dairy products.

Soft cheeses to avoid:

  • Feta (goat cheese)
  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Blue-veined cheeses, like Roquefort
  • Queso blanco, -fresco, -de hoja, -de crema
  • Asadero

Pregnant or nursing women need four to five 8 oz. glasses of milk or 1200-1500 mg of calcium per day.

Alternate food choices for a serving of milk:

  • 1 cup (8 oz) of yogurt
  • 1 ¼ oz cheese (Cheddar, Swiss, Jack, etc.)
  • 4 oz soy bean cake or tofu
  • 1 ½ cup ice cream
  • 1 ½ cup cottage cheese


Foods in this group furnish energy, vitamin B, iron, minerals and supplementary protein. It’s best to eat whole grains as they contain more vitamins and minerals and also provide fiber. Pregnant women will need 4 or more servings per day.


  • 1 slice of bread or 1 roll
  • 1 oz ready-to-eat cereal
  • ½ – ¾ cup cooked cereal
  • ½ – ¾ cup cooked pasta, rice or cornmeal
  • 1 tortilla, ½ bagel, or 4 crackers
  • 1 medium pancake or waffle


Protein builds muscle and tissue, as well as enzymes, hormones and antibodies to resist disease for you and your baby. Protein-rich foods provide vitamin B and minerals including iron. Iron is the oxygen-carrying component of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Pregnant women need 2-3 servings and nursing mothers will need 3-4 servings.


  • 2-3 oz of lean cooked meat, poultry or fish
  • A medium beef patty
  • 2 thin slices of a roast
  • ½ cup of tuna or diced chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cooked dry beans, lentil or peas
  • 4 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 2 slices of cheese (cheddar or swiss)
  • ½ cup of cottage cheese


Vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables are needed for healthy gums, blood vessel walls and other body tissue. They also help heal wounds and increase iron absorption. Dark green vegetables are an excellent source of iron, vitamin A and folic acid. Your daily requirement should include 2 servings of Vitamin C-rich food, 1 serving of dark green vegetable and 2 other servings of any fruits or vegetables.

Vitamin C foods:

  • Strawberries, grapefruit, guava
  • Mango, melons, papaya
  • Oranges, tangerines
  • Broccoli, cabbage, green peppers
  • Potatoes, tomatoes

Dark Green Vegetables:

  • Broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts
  • Chard, beets, collards, kale
  • Mustard, turnips


  • ½ cup of vegetable, fruit or juice
  • 1 medium fruit or ½ grapefruit
  • ½ cup chopped raw or cooked vegetable
  • 1 cup leafy raw vegetables


Your body uses iron to make extra blood (hemoglobin) for you and your baby during pregnancy. Iron also helps move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body — and to your baby’s.Getting enough iron can prevent a condition of too few red blood cells that can make you feel tired, called iron deficiency anemia. Having anemia can cause your baby to be born too small or too early.

You’ll need at least 27 milligrams (mg) of iron every day during your pregnancy. While you’re breastfeeding, get at least 9 mg of iron every day if you’re 19 or older. Breastfeeding moms 18 and younger need 10 mg of iron.
You can find iron in meat, poultry, and plant-based foods as well as in supplements.


  • Beef liver (3 ounces) — 5.2 mg
  • Chicken liver (3 ounces) — 11 mg
  • Iron-fortified instant oatmeal — 11 mg
  • Iron-fortified ready-to-eat cereal — 18 mg
  • Raisins (half a cup) — 1.6 mg
  • Kidney beans (1 cup) — 5.2 mg
  • Lentils (1 cup) — 6.6 mg
  • Lima beans (1 cup) — 4.5 mg
  • Oysters (3 ounces, canned) — 5.7 mg
  • Soybeans (1 cup) — 8.8 mg


Be sure to drink plenty of fluid. You will need at least -10 glasses (8 oz) daily during pregnancy and 10-12 glasses while nursing. Besides water, you can count milk, fruit or vegetable juices, soups and non-caffeinated drinks.


Folic acid is an essential supplement to prevent neural tube defects (spinal cord problems) in the fetus. The preconceptual period (or before you get pregnant) is the optimal time for folic acid supplementation. Women should be taking at least 0.4 mg per day. If a woman is at increased risk or had a previous baby with neural tube defects, the recommended dose is 4 mg per day.


Some studies have shown that excessive caffeine intake may be related to complications of pregnancy, including inadequate growth, miscarriage and preterm labor. We prefer that you have no caffeine intake but if you do, please keep your caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day.