Nutrition, Diet, & Lifestyle
Eat Well… Live Well. Be a Healthy Pregnant Woman!
Good nutritional and lifestyle habits are essential during pregnancy. We hope you find information in this section helpful as you progress on your journey towards motherhood. As always, feel free to contact our offices with any additional questions you may have, or for clarification on the answers provided below.
Dietary Recommendations for Pregnancy
The Food and Drug Administration website provides customizable dietary recommendations for pregnant women based on age, height, and weight.
Please note: Our doctors may recommend alternate diets for you based on your medical history. Please consult one of our physicians if you have any questions.
- Eat enough food to gain weight at the rate recommended by our doctors.
- Try to include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (complex carbohydrates are better than processed foods). High protein foods are very important as protein is the building block for muscles and bones.
- Eat small to moderate-sized meals at regular intervals and eat nutritious snacks. This will help you and your baby have the best chance of getting all the nutrients you and your baby need.
- To absorb more iron, include in your meals some meat, poultry, or vitamin C rich foods (such as OJ, broccoli, or strawberries).
- If you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages such as cola, do so in moderation (1 to 2 servings or less per day).
- While you are pregnant, the only sure way to avoid the possible harmful effects of alcohol on the fetus is to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages entirely.
- For foods to avoid in pregnancy, as well as guidelines for the intake of fish in pregnancy, visit the FDA website .
Nutritional Tips for Vegans or Vegetarians
Vegetarians who eat no dairy products (Vegans) should eat fortified foods such as cereals, breads and rice, as well as fruit juices and soy milk, which have been enriched with additional calcium, Vitamins D, B12, and folic acid. Prenatal vitamins can also be supplemented with additional iron, calcium, or Vitamin B12 throughout the second and third trimesters.
Many vegetarians are also anemic because most iron absorbed by the body comes from animal products. Iron deficiency is common during pregnancy, even in women who are not vegetarians. It is important to include iron in your diet from fortified breads and cereals or by eating nuts and seeds. Strict vegetarians may also be deficient in zinc, which can be supplied from eating whole grain foods, peas and beans.
The vegetarian diet in pregnancy should focus on the following four food groups when choosing meals:
- Whole Grains: Try to get at least 7 servings of whole grain products, including whole wheat bread, brown rice, and fortified cereals.
- Legumes (peas and beans), nuts, soy, tofu and seeds: Your protein will come from these foods instead of animal products, so aim for five or more servings daily.
- Fruits and vegetables: These form the basis of most vegetarian diets, so be sure to select 8 or more fruits and vegetables that are full of necessary nutrients. Focus on fortified juices, figs, and calcium-rich vegetables like bok choy.
- Calcium Products: Calcium in milk and dairy products is in an easily absorbable form. If you do not drink cow-milk dairy products, try fortified soy milk or rice milk, or take calcium supplements. Oxalates (found in chocolate and spinach) and phytate (found in whole grains) are among the dietary substances that impair the absorption of calcium. In fact, 8 cups of spinach are needed to obtain the same amount of calcium available in an 8-ounce serving of milk or 1 cup of yogurt.
Weight Gain Recommendations
You should gain weight gradually during your pregnancy, with most of the weight gained in the last 3 months. Many doctors suggest women gain weight at the following rate:
- 2 to 4 pounds total during the first 3 months (first trimester)
- 3 to 4 pounds per month during the 4th to 9th months (second and third trimesters)
- The total amount of weight you should gain during your pregnancy depends on your weight when you became pregnant.
Women whose weight was in the healthy range before becoming pregnant should gain between 25 and 35 pounds while pregnant. The advice is different for those who were overweight or underweight before becoming pregnant.
If our doctors have advised you to follow a different nutritional plan than what is recommended on this website, please follow our doctors instructions. Feel free to contact our offices at any time with questions.
FAQ – Lifestyle Activities
Here are some common questions we hear from our patients. However, these answers are not intended to substitute for prenatal care. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this material, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.
Is it normal to feel more tired during the second trimester?
Yes. Some women also experience shortness of breath during the second trimester.
Is it normal for my gums to bleed?
Yes, it is. Some women may also experience nose bleeds.
Can I color my hair when I’m pregnant?
Yes, at any time.
Can I go tanning when I’m pregnant?
Because of the dangerous effects of the sun, we do not recommend the use of tanning beds or sunbathing at anytime.
Can I go swimming when I’m pregnant?
You can use a pool as well as swim in the ocean; however, you should avoid hot tubs and hot baths.
Can I smoke during pregnancy?
Patients should not smoke at all – before, during or after pregnancy.
Can I travel when I’m pregnant?
We recommend you avoid traveling after the 32nd week. If you do plan to travel, remember to get up and walk every couple of hours to keep the circulation in your legs moving. Also, remember to empty your bladder on a regular basis. Discuss any overseas travel with our physicians. If you are considered a high risk pregnancy, please consult our physician before traveling as well.
Can I have sex when I’m pregnant?
This will vary from patient to patient. It is best to consult our doctors (along with your partner) to discuss.
Can I keep my cat if I’m pregnant?
Yes, you can. However, do not change the litter box during pregnancy due to the increased risk of infection with toxoplasmosis. (This risk may be reduced if you keep indoor cats)
Here are a few exercise tips for you to consider during your pregnancy. Please feel free to discuss any questions or concerns with one of our doctors at your next visit.
- Exercise in moderation is encouraged
- After 20 weeks of pregnancy, you should not do exercises that require you to lie flat on your back
- Avoid brisk exercise in hot humid weather or when you are sick with a fever
- Drink plenty of water to help you from over-heating and dehydrating
- Avoid raising your heart rate over 150 during any activity
- Do not attempt lower abdominal exercises (such as crunches)
- Do not attempt leg squats