Now that your pregnancy is confirmed it is important that you eat healthy. With morning sickness this could be challenging. But soon you will feel more settled and then you can begin to eat a well-balanced nutritious meal during your 40 weeks of pregnancy.
Don’t Miss: Checkout our Week by Week Pregnancy Guide and keep track of your baby’s development
We can help you come up with a healthy pregnancy diet with the following:
- Monthly Pregnancy Diet Plan
- Pregnancy Diet Essentials
- Healthy Drinks to Include in Pregnancy Diet
- Pregnancy Diet Tips for Gestational Diabetes
- Pregnancy Diet Tips for High Blood Pressure
- Important Pregnancy Diet Do’s and Don’ts’s
Pregnancy Diet for 0-8 weeks
Include fresh fruits and vegetables and starchy foods like rice and chapatis that are rich in Carbohydrates in your pregnancy diet during this period.
Proteins such as meat, eggs, soya (like soy chunks, tofu, etc.) and pulses should be consumed regularly.
Don’t forget your daily Calcium intake. For this drink milk or eat other dairy products like cheese, cottage cheese, paneer and yoghurt.
A daily dose of 5mg of Folic acid is also recommended till the 12th week of pregnancy. Folic acid is very important during pregnancy because it protects the unborn baby from developing neural tube defects. Other than supplements, Folic acid is found in various green vegetables (like Spinach, Lady’s finger aka Okra, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Asparagus, etc.) and in vegetables like Cauliflower, Carrot, Beets and in Lentils, Beans and Peas.
During the early stages of pregnancy you are likely to feel exhausted most of the time. Have your haemoglobin level checked. Often the reason behind the excess fatigue is anemia especially if you are a vegetarian.
To prevent feeling tired all the while eat small meals throughout the day.
If you are in the mood for some snacks then avoid any kind of junk food or those that have too much of oil, ghee or sugar in it. Instead snack on the following:
- Whole grain crackers
- Cucumber and curd
- Baked papad
Coconut water and homemade lemon drinks will make you feel refreshed during this period. In addition drink plenty of water so that you don’t get dehydrated.
Don’t consume too much of sugar and limit your intake of caffeinated beverages.
Pregnancy Diet for 9-12 weeks
This is the time when the baby inside you is growing very fast. So you will need a pregnancy diet that is full of nutrition.
Nausea should subside by now. But if it is still persisting then eating big meals might pose a difficulty. In that case eat smaller meals in regular interval throughout the day.
You could keep some biscuits or sandwiches by your bedside. Eat a little of this before you get out of bed first thing in the morning. These tips will reduce your nausea.
When you feel sick sip on some ginger tea or drink a little warm water with honey and ginger.
Consumption of Vitamin B6 reduces morning sickness. This is found in bananas, avocados, brown rice, poultry and fish.
Don’t worry about eating for two. That is just a myth. Most doctors recommend only an additional 300 extra calories a day during the second and third trimesters. It might, however, be a little different if you are over or underweight or you are carrying multiple babies.
Make sure that you include magnesium in your diet during this period. They help with the growth of the baby’s bones and also the muscle health of your uterus. This mineral is found in nuts, soya, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Pregnancy Diet for 13-16 Weeks
Around the 14th week include Iodine rich food in your diet. This is because during this week the baby’s thyroid gland starts to function and it needs iodine for proper functioning. Iodine is found in various sea-foods.
You could have small portions of sea food a couple of times in a week. But do cook it well, avoid tinned varieties and make sure that you are not allergic to any of them. It is also found in eggs, mushroom, spinach, baked potato and berries like strawberries and cranberries and in small quantities in dairy products like yogurt too. Use Iodized salt in your cooking.
Get your daily dose of Iron too to prevent anemia. Not only is Iron present in various meats and poultry it is also there in pulses and nuts. Cooking in Iron utensils also contribute to improving the Iron content of the food.
Avoid drinking too much of tea or coffee as it interferes with the absorption of Iron.
If you want to snack then good options during this phase of your pregnancy are:
- Fruit smoothies
- Dry fruits like dates and figs
- Multigrain cereal porridge
- Wheat noodles
- Home made pancakes
Pregnancy Diet for 17-20 Weeks
Chalk out a well-balanced pregnancy diet during this stage that gives you adequate nutrition and helps you to gain weight only gradually.
Don’t forget your daily intake of vitamins in your pregnancy diet. Most fruits and vegetables are rich in different vitamins. Try and eat them raw or steam them so that the vitamins are not lost while cooking them.
You could also speak to your doctor if you are worried. He might prescribe a multivitamin supplement to you.
During this phase also include Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. They help in your baby’s brain and eye development. It is found in oily fish like mackerel and herring.
Do remember that some fish could contain environmental pollutants. So don’t have more than two portions a week. Also, eat the ones that are smaller in size as the amount of mercury that fish contain is more in the larger sized ones.
For vegetarians Omega 3 fatty acids are found in food like tofu, soya beans, walnuts and sesame seeds.
You could also derive Omega 3 fatty acids from a supplement that is made from fish oil or algae. But do speak to your doctor before you do so.
Pregnancy Diet for 21-24 Weeks
As the child within you grows and presses down on your pelvis, you could experience constipation during this time. To avoid constipation eat plenty of high fiber foods like oats, wholegrain bread, figs and leafy vegetables.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water with this fiber rich pregnancy diet. This is because fiber tends to absorb a lot of water. So lack of water in the body can further increase constipation.
This is the time when vitamin A is also an important part of your pregnancy diet. It is essential for RBC production and cell growth. Vitamin A exists in the form of retinol and beta carotene. Both are needed for the child’s healthy development.
- Retinol is present in egg yolk, butter, margarine and milk
- Beta carotene is present in carrots, beetroot, papaya and spinach.
During this time if you get a blood test done you will notice that your cholesterol level is higher than usual. This is normal during pregnancy and is needed for the production of the pregnancy hormones. Cholesterol is also needed to maintain a healthy placenta. So don’t try and change your diet to reduce it.
Pregnancy Diet for 25-28 Weeks
Calcium and Vitamin D are key nutrients in your pregnancy diet during this time.
- Calcium helps your baby’s bones and teeth to grow strong
- Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium
Do try and keep all caffeinated beverages out of your diet. It reduces the amount of iron that your body can absorb from the food that you are eating.
If you must have a cup of tea then wait for at least half an hour after your meals before you drink it.
Also, while eating whole grain foods, though it might give you the fiber needed to prevent constipation, excess of it is not good. It reduces the amount of calcium, iron and zinc the body is able to absorb.
Pregnancy Diet for 29-32 Weeks
You are in your last trimester and your baby’s growth has speeded up. So your energy requirement rises. But it doesn’t mean you need to eat for two! An extra of 300 calories a day is enough. This is equivalent to:
- 2 chapatis and a bowl of vegetable curry
- 2 idlis with a bowl of sambar
A home remedy for heartburn and acidity is a never to miss with your meals during this stage.
Pregnancy Diet for 33-36 Weeks
You are likely to experience indigestion during this phase. It happens because of the hormonal and physical changes that are happening in your body. To reduce it cut out these foods from your pregnancy diet:
- Fatty foods like chocolate and cakes
- Spicy foods
- Citrus fruits
Eat small meals at regular intervals.
Eat your food slowly and chew well before you swallow.
To avoid bloating, sit for at least half an hour after your meals before you lie down.
As you progress towards your delivery date, include Vitamin K in your pregnancy diet. Babies born with lower levels of Vitamin K will take longer for their blood to clot in case of an accident.
Remember that the first milk that comes out (colostrum) after childbirth is also rich in Vitamin K. So do feed your baby just after birth.
Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables, figs and soya.
Pregnancy Diet for 37-40 weeks
With your due date fast approaching, organize your snacks and drinks a bit. This is just so that you know what you will carry with you when you are headed to the hospital.
- Carry snacks that is easy to digest like biscuits and dry fruits
- Check with the hospital what their canteen offers
- Speak to your friends and relatives to organize food for you if need be
Staying healthy during pregnancy is of vital importance both for you and for your unborn child. For this, your pregnancy diet should have the below mentioned essentials.
Protein in your Pregnancy Diet
Protein in your diet will help with cell growth and improved blood supply to your child.
Some of the best sources of protein are lean cuts of meat and egg whites. For vegetarians beans and tofu have large supplies of protein.Nuts like almonds and cashews are also rich in protein. But do consult your doctor and find out about the safety of consumption of different nuts during pregnancy before you pop them into your mouth.
You should consume at least 2-3 servings of protein every day. This is approximately half a cup of beans or around two eggs.
Carbohydrates in your Pregnancy Diet
Pregnancy diet should mandatorily include carbohydrates. This is an important source of energy.
Carbohydrate rich foods are cereals like bread, rice and pasta and vegetables like potato.
In a normal pregnancy you should include around six servings of carbohydrates daily. One serving is approximately one slice of bread or half a cup of rice.
Fats in your Pregnancy Diet
Some fats are healthy fats and these should be a part of your pregnancy diet. Avoid trans fasts and consume unsaturated fats.
This type of fat is available in meat, fish, whole milk dairy products and nuts.
Around two servings of fatty fish, like salmon, per week is good enough fat consumption for a pregnant woman with a normal pregnancy.
Folic Acid in your Pregnancy Diet
Folic Acid reduces the chances that your baby will be born with birth defects.
It also helps in effective enzyme function.
Folic acid is found as folate in:
- Spinach, fenugreek leaves, mustard greens and lettuce
- Vegetables like bitter gourd, bottle gourd, lady’s finger, carrot, beetroot, asparagus, broccoli, French beans, peas, corn
- Pulses and lentils like black-eyed beans, Bengal gram, chickpeas and kidney beans
- Fruits like muskmelon, avocado, pomegranate, guava, oranges and strawberries.
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Walnuts, peanuts and almonds
Your doctor might recommend you to take additional supplements of it as well.
400 mcg of folic acid is the recommended dosage for all pregnant women. This is around 2 cups of vegetable or one large sized orange.
Calcium in your Pregnancy Diet
Calcium in your pregnancy diet is needed to keep your bones strong and also to facilitate muscle contraction at later stages when you are in labour.
Some of the best sources of calcium are milk and the various milk products. Spinach and fish like sardines, and salmon are also rich in calcium.
You should consume around 1200 mg of calcium (that is around a cup of milk) daily during your pregnancy.
Iron in your Pregnancy Diet
Always remember to include iron in your pregnancy diet. Iron will prevent anemia and also facilitate red blood cell production.
However keep it within the recommended dose. It is good to speak to your doctor about it. Excess of iron consumption could lead to constipation.
Iron rich foods are lean red meat, tofu and spinach.
Recommended iron consumption daily during pregnancy is around 30 mg. This is around half a cup of tofu.
Beta Carotene in your Pregnancy Diet
Beta-carotene will not only help in the absorption of vitamin A but is also needed for a healthy skin. It will help in developing strong bones in your unborn child.
Beta-carotene rich food includes vegetables like broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, cabbage and fruits like apricot, cantaloupe, nectarine, peaches, and watermelon.
Your pregnancy diet should have around 770 mcg of beta-carotene daily. This is around half a cup of any of the above-mentioned fruit or vegetable.
Vitamin B6 in your Pregnancy Diet
Vitamin B6 will assist in red blood cell formation.
It is available in brown rice, poultry, fish, fruits like avocados and banana and vegetables like beans and potatoes.
1.9 mg of vitamin B6 daily is recommended for all pregnant women daily. This is around one potato, one banana or a cup of cereal.
Vitamin B12 in your Pregnancy Diet
Vitamin B12 will help you manage your stress levels. It also helps in the development of the baby’s nervous system.
Important sources of this vitamin are meat, fish, poultry and milk products.
If you are a vegetarian or lactose intolerant then do speak to your doctor about taking a B12 supplement.
In a normal pregnancy, a daily intake of 2.6 mcg of B12 is recommended in the pregnancy diet. That is around a cup yogurt or around 3 ounces of fish.
Vitamin C in your Pregnancy Diet
Vitamin C should form a part of your pregnancy diet because it will help you keep cold and cough at bay. It will also aid your baby in developing healthy gums and teeth.
Vitamin C also aids in iron absorption.
Some of the best sources of vitamin C are vegetables like broccoli, spinach, tomatoes and cauliflower and fruits like oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, lemons, strawberries and papaya.
You should have at least 85 mg of vitamin C in your pregnancy diet daily. This is around half a cup of any of the above mentioned fruit or vegetable.
Vitamin D in your Pregnancy Diet
Vitamin D helps to absorb the calcium better and also develops the unborn baby’s bones and teeth.
Sunlight is a good source of vitamin D. So go outdoors and get yourself some exercise regularly.
Very few foods, like egg yolks, fatty fish and cod liver oil contain vitamin D.
You will need 5 mcg of vitamin D daily in your pregnancy diet. Add a teaspoon of cod liver oil into your food for this or get some sunlight for half an hour every day.
Pregnancy means looking after yourself and also your unborn child. So when if comes to drinks and beverages in your pregnancy diet, they need to be healthy too.
Water in your Pregnancy Diet
Water is needed to keep you hydrated and also for the proper functioning of your entire system. So don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Also, as you move towards your due date, your breasts begin to lactate. Water becomes more important then, as it is a key component to the production of breast milk.
Coconut water in your Pregnancy Diet
Coconut water keeps the body hydrated and prevents dehydration. It is full of nutrients and so rejuvenates you by replenishing all the salts that are lost from the body because of sweat and exhaustion.
Lemon Water in your Pregnancy Diet
This will give you Vitamin C and will also quench your thirst. It also helps to reduce your morning sickness. For a change of taste add some mint leaves, crushed ginger, a little honey or even some chaat masala.
Fruit and Vegetable Juices in your Pregnancy Diet
Make sure you make these at home so that all the artificial flavors that are added to the packed ones are avoided. And avoid adding sugar to it too. The juice of sweet limes, oranges, melons are beat for the summer months. As for vegetables, the juice of cucumbers is very refreshing to beat the heat.
Milkshake in your Pregnancy Diet
If you just can’t drink anymore of the milk then add some fruit to it and make a lovely milkshake. You could also have lassi, buttermilk or yogurt based smoothies. These will give you your calcium and also the fun of drinking something tasty.
Herbal Tea in your Pregnancy Diet
So you should avoid tea and coffee. But herbal teas and green tea is good. Make a glassful of it and add a little lemon juice and ginger to it. Then drop a few ice cubes and enjoy your iced tea.
The body produces a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in your blood. Once you are pregnant then this hormone’s level goes down. And when the levels are really low then you develop gestational diabetes. This causes your blood sugar levels to rise. Very high blood sugar levels during pregnancy can harm the baby.
So if you have gestational diabetes then eating the correct food becomes as important as eating well.
If you are a vegetarian and have gestational diabetes then you can follow this diet. Of course you try variations of this so that you don’t get bored eating exactly the same thing every day.
However a customized pregnancy diet plan based on your weight, age, glucose level and stage of pregnancy works the best.
- Early Morning – A cup of skimmed milk without sugar with a cracker
- Breakfast –
- A cup of milk without sugar and two slices of toasted brown bread with 50gm of cottage cheese or an egg.
- Two vegetable stuffed paranthas made with only teaspoon of oil (the stuffing should not be potato) with a bowl of curd.
- A cup of oats with milk. To add flavor add half a chopped apple and two spoons of sliced almonds and a pinch of cinnamon
- Mid Morning –
- One fruit. Avoid extra sweet fruits like mangoes and watermelon.
- A bowl of yogurt without sugar. Add a little walnut for the extra crunch
- Lunch –
- Half a bowl of salad without any mayonnaise or salad dressing or a vegetable curry, a bowl of pulses made with very little oil, a bowl of curd without sugar and 2-3 chapatis
- Boiled and lightly sautéed cottage cheese wrapped in a chapatti. With bell peppers and baby corn. Have it with mashed avocado
- Evening –
- Some nuts or a bowl of sprouts or a couple of crackers and a cup of milk without sugar
- Soya crispies
- Multi grain bagel with a cup of lemon green tea
- Dinner – Similar to lunch. To this you can add bowl of fruit salad
Eating a good breakfast helps to regulate the blood sugar levels.
When including carbohydrates in your pregnancy diet while you have gestational diabetes then remember that there are complex / good carbohydrates (or starch) and simple / bad carbohydrates (or sugar). Avoid the latter so that your blood glucose levels do not shoot up. These include added sugar, honey, jaggery and even to some extent sweet fruits.
If you have gestational diabetes then opt for carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (GI) . This index tells how easily the sugar from the food is released into the body after it has been eaten. The foods with a low-GI are rich in fiber and are good for gestational diabetes. Some examples of such food are:
- Fruits like apples, oranges, pears, peaches
- Beans and lentils
- Sweet corn
Remember that if you have gestational diabetes then it is important that you do some exercise every day.
If diet and exercise don’t help to control your blood sugar levels then do speak to your doctor because you might need medication n that case.
Some of you can develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. The different types are:
- Chronic hypertension: this is high blood pressure that exists before pregnancy and stays well after delivery too
- Gestational hypertension: this is high blood pressure that develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and disappears after delivery
- Preeclampsia: this is high blood pressure that develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and in such cases there is presence of protein in the urine. This is dangerous and can even be fatal for the baby.
High blood pressure during pregnancy can deprive the fetus of the required amount of oxygen and nutrients.
If you have high blood pressure during your pregnancy then your doctor will recommend a special diet for you. This is called the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
- It includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat diary and meat products in the diet
- Limits the sodium intake (less that 2,300 mg (1 teaspoon of table salt) daily)
- Increases the intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium (they aid in reducing blood pressure).
- Eating fresh and frozen foods instead of processed foods
- Drinking juices rich in vitamin C
- Including cucumber in the pregnancy diet as it helps to lower blood pressure
- Using only half of your usual amount of butter or salad dressing
- Drinking skimmed milk
Expert Section: Do you have any pregnancy related questions, don’t forget to ask our expert.
Have the Vitamins
Even before you have conceived you should start having your folic acid and your vitamins. Start eating a proper balanced diet. Also speak to your doctor to give you the necessary supplements. This will keep you healthy and also protect your child once you conceive.
Don’t keep eating the same thing every day for the forty weeks that you are pregnant. While eating a well balanced diet is important, adding variety to it is also important. This will give your unborn child new tastes via the amniotic fluid.
Choose food that is fresh and not those which are processed or packaged. That will just give you a lot of artificial flavors and excess of sugar and salt – all of which are avoidable. Also buy your food from trusted vendors so that nothing stale is given to you and also you avoid buying food that is laden with pesticides and environmental pollutants.
Choose Food that is Multi-nutritional
Food such as milk, lean meat, eggs and various fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense foods. Eating such food will give your body different kids of nutrition that is good both for you and for your child.
Don’t Eat for Two
The myth is that you need to at for two once you are pregnant. That is not true. All you need is an extra 300 calories every day. So chalk out a proper pregnancy diet for yourself that will give these extra calories to you and also keep you healthy. You will see a steady weight gain. But that is more due to the growing baby inside you. Excess of any food will just lead to a sudden weight jump and that can be harmful for the child.
Watch your Carbohydrates
Some carbohydrates just release glucose into your blood stream, These include foods like white bread and white rice. Go slow on these and instead opt for carbohydrates that are rich in starch like ragi, brown rice, quinoa and brown bread.
Some foods are considered to be unsafe during pregnancy because they contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria. So be careful about what you put into your mouth. For example foods that you shouldn’t eat during pregnancy are raw or undercooked meat and eggs, sushi, blue cheese, seafood and food that has gone stale.
Eat at Regular Intervals
Instead of eating one heavy meal, eat smaller portions at a gap of an hour or two throughout the day. This is help you digest the food better and also prevent nausea.
Staying hydrated is of vital importance during pregnancy. So never forget to guzzle down plenty of water. It will also prevent common pregnancy problems like light headedness and constipation.
So eat healthy. And eat wise. Wishing you a happy pregnancy and a wonderful forthcoming motherhood!