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Pregnancy and Lactation

Eating well during pregnancy and lactation requires a few adjustments to general good health dietary guidelines. A woman's need for calories, protein, vitamins, minerals and water all increase. Each woman will require different amounts of foods providing key nutrients to achieve the desired pregnancy weight gain and pregnancy support. Age, weight, activity level, and metabolism all influence how much you will need to eat for optimum weight gain, health, and fetal development or breastmilk production.

The food guide below identifies important food groups to include in a normal pregnancy and lactation diet, and a minimum daily recommendation is listed for servings. This guide is not adjusted for calories, and there is not enough total food in this table to support a healthy pregnancy. The table only provides a quick screening to see if you are eating the minimum amount of specific nutrient-rich foods. Additional calories will need to be added, but meeting these minimum servings will help ensure good nutrient intake. Lean meats, lowfat dairy, whole grains, fresh produce and unsaturated fats are suggested to meet other nutritional recommendations for good health.

Nutrient Rich Food Group
Servings Needed
What Equals A Serving

Milk & High Calcium Foods


Adult Pregnancy:

3-to-4 servings
(lowfat is best)

  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 11/2 oz cheese
  • 1 cup fortified soy beverage
  • 11/2 cups ice cream
  • 1 cup calcium-fortified fruit juice
Teen Pregnancy:
4-to-5 servings
(lowfat is best)
4-to-5 servings
(lowfat is best)
Protein Foods
2-to-3 servings
(lean is best)
  • 3 oz cooked meat, fish or poultry
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cooked beans
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter

Breads and Grains

6 or more servings
(whole grains are best)
  • 1 slice bread (1 oz)
  • 1 small tortilla
  • 1/2 cup cooked cereal
  • 3/4 - 1 cup cold cereal
  • 1/2 cup cooked pasta
  • 1/3 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 English muffin
  • 1/2 small bagel
Fruits and Vegetables
5 or more servings
(fresh is best)
  • 1 cup raw fruit or vegetables
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetable
  • 1 medium piece fresh fruit
  • 1 cup green salad
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup fruit juice


Fats and Oils
2-to-3 servings
(unsaturated is best)
  • 1/8 avocado
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
    (olive or canola oil are best)
  • 1 tsp mayonnaise
  • 6 almonds (1/4 oz nuts)
  • 20 peanuts
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds


Drinking plenty of fluids and keeping well-hydrated is important when you are pregnant. You should be drinking at least 8 - 10 cups of water each day. Hot weather and physical activity can increase your fluid needs greatly. You should be urinating frequently and your urine will be pale or colorless if your fluid intake is adequate. Unless you are having trouble gaining adequate weight, try to drink water instead of soda or fruit punch. It is best to avoid or greatly limit caffeinated beverages. Many pregnant women gain too much weight if they consume large volumes of calorie containing beverages.

Constipation can be a problem during pregnancy. Eating foods rich in fiber can help prevent it. Choose whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables several times each day to ensure your fiber intake is adequate. High fiber breakfast cereals can be helpful. Read labels to find a cereal that has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Again, water intake is important to help fiber keep intestines moving.

Vitamins and Minerals
Pregnancy increases your body's need for many vitamins and minerals. A prenatal supplement is often prescribed at your first prenatal visit. If you are already taking any nutritional supplements be sure to discuss this right away with your doctor as too much supplementation can be harmful.

Some vitamins can be harmful if taken in excess amounts. Excess intake of vitamin A has been shown to increase the risks of certain birth defects. It is important to discuss any vitamin and mineral supplements you are taking with your health care provider.

Weight Gain
Weight gain rate and total is very important to monitor during pregnancy. Be sure to know your specific weight gain goals and discuss concerns early with your physician if you are having difficulty meeting those goals.

Not all exercises or diets are suitable for everyone. Before you begin this program, you should have permission from your doctor to participate in vigorous exercise and change of diet. If you feel discomfort or pain when you exercise, do not continue. The instructions and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. The creators, producers, participants and distributors of this site disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the exercise and advice provided here.

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