Pregnancy and Lactation Needs

Nutrition Needs during Pregnancy and Lactation

Nutrients Needed During The First Trimester


Grains provide essential carbohydrates, your body's main source of energy. Many whole-grain and enriched products also contain fiber, iron, B vitamins and various minerals. Fortified bread and cereal can help you get enough folic acid.

What to eat: Make sure at least half of your grains each day are whole grains. If that sounds like a lot, don't worry. It might not be as much as you think. You can get most of your day's grains with a bowl of fortified cereal for breakfast, a lunchtime sandwich made with two slices of whole-wheat bread and whole-wheat pasta for dinner.

To optimize pregnancy nutrition, trade sugary cereals and white bread for whole-grain cereals, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain bread. Try wild rice or barley in soups, stews, casseroles and salads. Look for products that list whole grains, such as whole-wheat flour, first in the ingredients list.

-Fruits and vegetables:

Fruits and vegetables are critical components of pregnancy nutrition, since they provide various vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber to aid digestion. Vitamin C, found in many fruits and vegetables, helps you absorb iron. Dark green vegetables have vitamin A, iron and folate — other important nutrients during pregnancy.

What to eat or drink: Top your cereal with slices of fresh fruit. Make a veggie pizza. Add extra vegetables to your casserole.

If you're tired of apples, oranges and green beans, branch out. Try apricots, mangoes, pineapple, sweet potatoes, winter squash or spinach. Make trail mix with a variety of dried fruit. Fruit juice counts, too, but remember that too much juice can lead to undesired weight gain.

-Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and beans:

Foods in this group have plenty of protein, as well as B vitamins and iron. Protein is crucial for your baby's growth, especially during the second and third trimesters.

What to eat: Try whole-wheat toast with peanut butter for breakfast. Eat a scrambled egg or an omelet for lunch. Serve a salmon fillet for dinner. Add chickpeas or black beans to your salad. Snack on a handful of soy nuts.

If your traditional sources of protein no longer appeal to you — likely during the first trimester — experiment with other options. Fish is an excellent source of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which can promote your baby's brain development. Avoid fish that's potentially high in mercury, however, including swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and shark.

-Dairy products:

The calcium in dairy products and calcium-fortified soy milk helps build your baby's bones and teeth. Dairy products also have vitamin D and protein.

What to eat or drink: Eat yogurt for your afternoon snack. Drink the milk in your cereal bowl. Have a glass of skim milk with dinner. Add low-fat cheese to a salad.

If you have trouble digesting dairy products, get creative. Try calcium-fortified orange juice or sardines. Experiment with lactose-reduced or lactose-free products. Use an over-the-counter lactase enzyme product when you eat or drink dairy products.

Nutrients Needed During The Second Trimester


While you could toss back a few glasses of soda to make up your 340 additional calories, it wouldn't be a good nutritional decision. Both you and your baby need high-quality foods to supply the vitamins and minerals, as well as the calories, you need for your baby's optimal growth in the second trimester. Protein helps create new tissue for your baby, which he'll need as he gains around 2 pounds and adds around 6.5 inches, tripling his height from crown to rump, in the second trimester. Protein requirements increase during pregnancy -- get a minimum of 60 grams per day. Some experts recommend much more, between 75 and 100 grams of protein per day. Meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and pork are your best protein bets; if you follow a vegan diet, get protein from nuts, seeds, soy and whole grains.


Throughout your pregnancy, carbohydrates supply the bulk of your energy needs. But all carbs are not equal; eating pastries doesn't pack the nutritional punch of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These not only contain the carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals you need, but also provide fiber, which helps you avoid constipation, a common complaint as your baby grows and puts pressure on your intestines. For most pregnant women, carbs should comprise 40 to 50 percent of their daily calories, but if you have gestational diabetes, follow your doctor's recommendations for carbohydrate intake.Fats

Fats have a bad reputation, but they're a necessary part of your diet during pregnancy; 25 to 35 percent of your calories should come from fats. The key is picking the right fats: healthy fats such as unsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your lipid levels and provide nutrients essential for your baby's brain, eyes and nervous system. Fish such as salmon, trout, herring and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid, better known as DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. Because fish contains methylmercury, a toxin, limit your intake to 12 ounces per week. Vegetarians can get omega-3s from alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, found in soy and walnuts. Flaxseed also contains ALA, but flaxseed might be harmful in pregnancy and should be avoided, the March of Dimes warns. Avoid trans fats, found in processed foods and saturated fats; they can increase your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.

Vitamins and Minerals

While getting enough of all vitamins and minerals is important throughout pregnancy, two nutrients are especially important in the second trimester: calcium and iron. Calcium helps build strong bones in your baby's developing skeleton, and iron helps create new red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body and to your baby via the placenta. Get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily in food or supplements, while increasing your iron intake to 27 milligrams per day. A prenatal vitamin can ensure that you get the vitamins and minerals you need, but getting your nutrients from food is always best.

Nutrients Needed At The End Of A Pregnancy


Experts recommend 75 to 100 grams of protein per day. Protein positively affects the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain. It also helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow during pregnancy, and it plays a role in your increasing blood supply.


The daily requirement of calcium is around 1000 milligrams during pregnancy. Calcium helps your body regulate fluids, and it helps build your baby’s bones and tooth buds.

In combination with sodium, potassium, and water, iron helps increase your blood volume and prevents anemia. A daily intake of 27 milligrams is ideal during pregnancy.

-Folate/Folic Acid

Folic acid plays a key role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Experts recommend 600 to 800 micrograms (.6 to .8 milligrams) daily.

-Vitamin C

Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C will promote wound healing, tooth and bone development, and metabolic processes. Experts recommend at least 85 milligrams per day.

-Other Nutritional Concerns

During pregnancy, some foods can cause harm to a developing baby. Be sure that all meats are thoroughly cooked to avoid exposure to toxoplasmosis, salmonella, and other harmful bacteria. Eliminate tobacco smoke, drug use, and alcohol consumption from your diet.

Reduce or eliminate caffeinated beverages (soda, coffee) from your daily intake, and maintain a reasonable exercise program throughout your pregnancy. Walking and swimming are considered healthy activities during pregnancy, but always consult with your health care provider before starting a new exercise program.

Nutritional Needs During Lactation

-Nutrition experts recommend that mothers breast-feed their infants. Brain development is rapid during the first years of life. Breast milk is the best food to foster brain health and is the easiest for a baby to digest.It provides nutrients in ratios that are perfectly designed for babies. It contains immune substances that help a baby resist infection.

-If you're breast-feeding, you're giving your baby nutrients that will promote his or her growth and health. You might have questions, however, about what foods and drinks are best for you — and how your diet might affect your breast milk and your baby.

Understand the basics of breast-feeding nutrition.

Do I need extra calories while breast-feeding?

-Yes, you might need to eat a little more — about an additional 400 to 500 calories a day — to keep up your energy.

-To get these extra calories, opt for nutrient-rich choices, such as a slice of whole-grain bread with a tablespoon (about 16 grams) of peanut butter, a medium banana or apple, and 8 ounces (about 227 grams) of yogurt.

What foods should I eat while breast-feeding?

-Focus on making healthy choices to help fuel your milk production. Opt for protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils and seafood low in mercury. Choose a variety of whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables. Wash your fruits and vegetables to reduce exposure to pesticide residue.

-Eating a variety of different foods while breast-feeding will change the flavor of your breast milk. This will expose your baby to different tastes, which might help him or her more easily accept solid foods down the road.

-To make sure you and your baby are getting all of the vitamins you need, your health care provider might recommend continuing to take a daily prenatal vitamin until you wean your baby.

How much fluid do I need while breast-feeding?

-Drink frequently, preferably before you feel thirsty, and drink more if your urine appears dark yellow. Have a glass of water nearby when you breast-feed your baby.

-Be wary of juices and sugary drinks, however. Too much sugar can contribute to weight gain — or sabotage your efforts to lose pregnancy weight. Too much caffeine can be troublesome, too. Limit yourself to no more than 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) of caffeinated drinks a day. Caffeine in your breast milk might agitate your baby or interfere with your baby's sleep.

Things You Should Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation

Woman need to avoid drugs during the pregnancy and while breastfeeding because they can have harmful effects on the baby.A: In general, there are only two foods breastfeeding women should avoid or consume in very small amounts: alcohol and fish. Alcohol can be passed from mom to baby in breast milk and affect neurologic development. One drink or less per day is generally accepted as being "safe."

Other Special Nutrients Needed During Pregnancy and Lactation

The fetus needs calcium for well-formed bones and strong teeth. From needs are especially large during the last six months of pregnancy