Eating for Pregnancy
Women who eat well during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby born at a healthy weight. Eating healthy foods gives your developing baby the nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. This increases your chances of having a healthy baby. You don’t need to eat special foods to breastfeed, but healthy foods will keep you healthy as a new mother.
During pregnancy you will need more energy (calories) and 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. For more information about needing additional calories during pregnancy, see the Healthy Eating and Nutrition webpages for each trimester.
Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide (Canada’s Food Guide) can help you eat healthy during your pregnancy, when breastfeeding, and for the rest of your life. During these stages in your life, your body requires more nutrients. Your food choices become very important for your health and your developing baby.
Follow these guidelines to help you make healthy food choices:
- enjoy a variety of foods from the four food groups every day
- eat three meals and two to three small snacks every day
- eat foods rich in nutrients
- limit foods and beverages high in calories, fat and sugar or salt (sodium) such as cakes, pastries, doughnuts, potato chips, fruit flavoured drinks, soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks.
- limit foods high in trans fat
Also, remember to pay attention to your hunger cues ‑ how you feel. You should eat when you are hungry, and stop when you no longer feel hungry and when you feel just “full.”
To find out how you well you are eating, follow these steps:
- Write down everything you ate and drank yesterday. If you are aged 19‑50, use the Canada Food Guide Servings Tracker tool to track your intake. You can also use a piece of plain paper.
- Make note of how much of each food or drink you took in for each meal and snack throughout the day. For example: ½ cup of cereal and ¾ cup of milk, ½ cup orange juice for breakfast.
- Take this list and find out how many Food Guide Servings you ate from each food group in Canada’s Food Guide:
- Grain Products
- Vegetables and Fruit
- Milk Products
- Meat and Alternatives
- Compare your total number of each food group you ate to the recommended Food Guide servings in Canada’s Food Guide.
- Ask yourself the following questions after you have compared your eating to Canada’s Food Guide: Did you eat the recommended number of servings in all four food groups? In which food group are you strongest? If you ate less than the recommended number of servings in the four food groups, what food group do you need to eat more of? Think about how you will eat more of the foods you need.
What about Cravings?
Cravings for non‑food items, such as ice, clay or starch, can usually be stopped with a change in your diet. Report any of these cravings to your health care provider.
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
Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide
Are you on the right track? If you are aged 19‑50, use the following guidelines for healthy eating from Canada’s Food Guide. Tips are provided to help you eat healthy and make the most of your food choices. To track your Food Guide servings, you can use the Canada Food Guide Servings Tracker.
Take advantage of your pregnancy to work toward your goals of healthy eating. The changes you make now will set the scene for continued healthy eating for you and your baby as it grows.
Your healthy eating habits will help your baby
to have healthy eating habits.
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.