Healthy Eating and Nutrition
Healthy Eating and Nutrition during Pregnancy
Women who eat well during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby born at a healthy weight. Eating healthy foods supports you in your pregnancy and gives your baby the nutrients needed to develop normally. During pregnancy you may need more calories (energy) and you will need more nutrients for your developing baby and for yourself. A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement that has folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron is recommended to help you get the extra nutrients you need. Don’t forget that the placenta is growing and your blood supply is also increasing.
Women who have a normal body weight at the start of their pregnancy need about 350 extra calories a day in their 2nd trimester. Eat 2 to 3 more Food Guide servings each day from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. These extra Food Guide servings will help you gain the extra weight and have the nutrients you need. Remember that pregnancy is a time to eat “twice as healthy,” not “twice as much.” Plan your meals, and choose healthier foods that are high in nutrients, like vegetables and fruit rich in color and high in fibre.
Healthy snacks can help meet your energy and nutrient needs during the 2nd trimester. Here are some suggestions for healthy snacks:
- raisins and nuts
- raw vegetables and dip
- crackers and cheese
- yogurt and fresh fruit
- cereal, with or without milk
- peanut butter on toast
- slice of veggie pizza
Dietary Sources of Some Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Folate, Omega‑3 Fatty Acids and Iron are all important nutrients during pregnancy. See the table below for examples of sources of these nutrients.
Dietary Sources of Folate
Food Sources of Omega‑3 Fatty Acids
Dietary Sources of Iron
Fish and Mercury
Choose fish low in mercury, such as salmon, rainbow trout, Atlantic mackerel, sole or Dover sole. Do not have more than two servings per month of Bigeye (Ahi) tuna, shark, marlin or swordfish.
For more information, see the HealthLink BC file Healthy Eating: Choose Fish Low in Mercury.
Special Food and Beverage Concerns
You may need extra amounts of calcium and vitamin D during pregnancy. Your health care provider may recommend a calcium supplement along with foods that are extra high in calcium. Ask your health care provider how much Vitamin D to take. For more information about taking supplements, click here.
There are some foods and beverages that are recommended for you to limit during pregnancy. This includes caffeine, some herbal teas, some artificial sweeteners, and fish high in mercury.
For more information about special food and beverage concerns, click here.
If you get your drinking water from a private well or other non-regulated source such as a creek or lake, get the water tested by a laboratory to ensure the drinking water is safe. Harmful bacteria and chemicals can be found in untreated water. For more information, see the HealthLink BC file Should I Get My Well Water Tested?. Water from a creek, river, or lake should also be boiled. Boiling kills bacteria but does not remove chemicals.