Women's Health Texas – Austin

Nutrition In Pregnancy

What you need to know about nutrition in pregnancy

Your nutrition before, during and after pregnancy is an important part of ensuring a healthy baby as well as maintaining your health. Our Austin OBGYNs offer excellent tips about nutrition in pregnancy, so you can know what to eat when pregnant to optimize your health and that of your baby.

Your pregnancy diet

Pregnancy offers a unique opportunity to focus attention to your dietary habits and make healthy choices.

An increase of approximately 300 kcal/day is recommended during pregnancy. Because of the increase in blood volume, increased iron consumption either through dietary sources or supplements of approximately 15 mg/day is required. Most prenatal vitamins will cover this need.

Approximately 1,200 mg of calcium per day is recommended for pregnant or lactating women. Prenatal vitamins typically only have approximately 200 mg, so three to four servings of dairy products per day are needed, or you may choose to use additional calcium supplements.

Folate (folic acid) supplementation has been shown to decrease spinal defects and other birth defects in newborns. It is recommended that folate be started prior to conception for maximum benefit, but it should be continued throughout pregnancy.

Mega-dose vitamins are on the list of what not to eat in pregnancy, as some vitamins and minerals can be toxic in large doses (e.g. iron, selenium, vitamins A&D).

Please do not take any over-the-counter vitamin supplements or herbal products unless you have discussed them with our Austin OBGYNs.

All about nutrition in pregnancy

A prudent diet, whether you are pregnant or not, should include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other foods high in fiber. Any diet should avoid saturated fats and trans fatty acids, but this becomes especially important while pregnant.

Caffeine consumption should be minimized, and you should avoid undercooked meats and unpasteurized dairy products, as they are on the list of what not to eat when pregnant.

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet, but due to mercury contamination, precautions should be taken to avoid fish that may contain high levels of mercury.

Weight gain during pregnancy

The following graph can help you determine your body mass index (BMI).

First, calculate your BMI.


Weight gain during pregnancy should be dependent upon your BMI.

<19 weight gain of 27 to 40 lbs
19 to 25 weight gain of 25 to 35 lbs
26 to 29 weight gain of 15 to 25 lbs
>29 weight gain of 10 to 15 lbs

Limiting your weight gain during pregnancy will allow a return to a normal, healthy weight after pregnancy. Consult our Austin OBGYNs about ways to meet your target weight gain.