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Pregnancy & Diet Nutrition

Written by Sky Taylor, Diet Bites

Pregnancy & Diet, Postpartum Weight Loss After Pregnancy

It's common for the pregnant mother to seek as much information surrounding pregnancy as possible - whether it's her first child, or her tenth child.

Questions might include: "What should I expect? What are the risks? How will having a baby impact my personal level of health, as well as the way that my body looks? How much weight should I gain during pregnancy? (recommendation listed below)"

Simply put - the pregnant mother's expectations, potential risks and health are all impacted by a single element: The Daily Diet.

Achieving proper nutrition during pregnancy can cut health risks, produce a healthier baby, and protect the expectant mother's personal health. 

Vital Nutrients Found in the Daily Diet During Pregnancy & How Deficiencies Impact Mother's & Baby's Health

A question that we are often asked is, "Can I go on a diet while I'm pregnant or while I am breastfeeding?"

Our answer is, "Oh yes but NOT a calorie-restricted diet, rather a diet rich in the special nutrients that the body requires during pregnancy, as well as the breastfeeding phase."

There are exceptions. On those rare occasions when risks are associated with the weight of the pregnant woman, the attending physician may opt to place the patient on a calorie-restricted diet to cut those risks.

And of course, the daily diet of any pregnant woman should only be prescribed by the attending physician to ensure proper nutrients for optimum health for both mother and child, as well as the proper development of the unborn child.

As an example, look how the common nutrients listed below play a huge role in the pregnant woman's daily diet:

Calcium Needs for Pregnant Women

When the pregnant mother does not consume adequate calcium, the fetus pulls calcium from the mother for bone-building purposes.

Consuming adequate calcium helps protect the mother's bone health, as well as build strong bones in the unborn baby.

Pregnant women over the age of 18 should consume 1,000 milligrams of daily calcium; pregnant mothers-to-be under the age of 18 shouldconsume 1,300 milligrams of daily calcium.

A great source of calcium is skim milk - which oddly enough is higher in calcium content than whole milk. Other great sources of calcium include foods located in the dairy food group.

Daily Nutrient Recommendations for Pregnant Women


 Over Age 18

Under Age 18


1,000 milligrams

1,300 milligrams


400 milligrams

400 milligrams


27 milligrams

27 milligrams


60 grams

60 grams


11 milligrams

12 milligrams

Folate Need for Pregnant Women

Builds protein tissues. Insufficient folate consumption results in a higher risk of birth defects such as spina bifida.

Because these health risks for the unborn child often occur before the woman is aware that a pregnancy exists, it's important to consume sufficient folate in the daily diet when a woman is not practicing preventative pregnancy.

Foods rich in folate include: broccoli,dark green vegetables and oranges. The recommended daily allowance for folate in pregnant women is 400 milligrams.

Iron Needs

Necessary for maintaining both mother and baby blood supplies as well as the baby's iron stores. Recommended daily allowance is 27 milligrams for all pregnant women.

Protein Needs

Necessary for health of muscles, uterus, breasts, blood supply and developing infant's tissues. Insufficient protein risks include low-birth weight for infant which places baby at higher risk. The recommended daily allowance for folate in all pregnant women is 60 grams.


Insufficient zinc consumption may result in long labor and delivering a baby with a low-birth weight which places the baby at higher health risks. Recommended daily allowance is 11 milligrams for pregnant women over the age of 18 and 12 milligrams for those under 18.

Most pregnant women are prescribed a vitamin tablet by their physicians to ensure proper nutrition. However, achieving optimum nutrition naturally through the foods and beverages consumed is the best method for obtaining the nutrients the body requires during pregnancy.

Recommended Daily Diet During Pregnancy, Including Recommended Pounds to Gain During Pregnancy

Recommended Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Pre-Pregnancy Weight State


Suggested Weight Gain

At Recommended Weight


25-35 pounds



28-40 pounds



15-25 pounds

Very Overweight


15 pounds

The USDA recommends the following recommended daily allowances for pregnant women based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet:

Dairy - 3 cups

Meat & Beans - 5.5 ounces

Fruit - 2 cups

Vegetables - 2.5 cups

Grains - 6 ounces

Fats/Oils - Use Sparingly

During the second trimester, it is also recommended that the pregnant woman increase her daily diet by 300 calories as pregnancy increases the body's daily energy (calorie) needs.

It's also important to keep in mind that age, muscle mass, current weight and activity level are just a few of the other elements that factor into the Daily Diet Calorie-Consumption Equation.

Given such, it's important for the pregnant women to abide by the following Health Rules of Pregnancy:

*Enjoy balanced meals regularly throughout the day (generally breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2-3 high energy snacks).

*Keep the plate colorful and interesting.

*Limit salt (sodium), sugar and fat intake.

*Ixnay on alcohol, including beer. You want your kid to be a genius like you! Seriously, alcohol causes much grief for the unborn child and those scars don't end after birth.

*Do not take any other-the-counter supplements unless recommended by your doctor - including dietary supplements, medicines, drugs and dietary food substitutes (such as sugar substitutes).

*Exercise as prescribed by your doctor.

*Ensure adequate fiber intake. Daily recommended allowance for pregnant women is 30 grams of fiber per day. Best sources of fiber include whole grains, cereals, raw fruits and vegetables.

*Be sure to discuss the following issues with your doctor that impact pregnancy: Listeriosis, Toxoplasmosis, Gestational Diabetes, and Mercury (found in fish and shellfish - also inquire as to recommended consumption of fish & seafood).

Postpartum Weight Loss

What about dieting after pregnancy?

Because it takes the body about six months to rebound after pregnancy, we feel that it's best to allow the body to naturally recover before going on a stringent restricted-calorie diet.

However, there are many other things that you can do to trim down during this phase. For one - that little bundle of joy is guaranteed to keep you on your toes!

As your body rebounds, make it a point to incorporate daily exercise into your routine. Although baby will keep you on your toes, it's important to embrace activity that is not related to stress.

Unfortunately, much of baby's needs are accompanied with a low level of stress such as racing to change wet diapers, racing between the laundry room and the baby's room and so forth.

On the positive side, there are also many new-baby activitiesthat can serve to relieve stress, such as breastfeeding, rocking baby and savoring the intense feeling of love that you feel.

Postpartum Diet

What foods are an important part of the postpartum diet?

Foods housed within the Official Food Pyramid.

Pay particular attention to foods high in essential fatty acids such as fish, particularly salmon.

Other great sources for essential fatty acids include nuts and seeds. Whole grains as found in bread and cereals. As during pregnancy, opt for foods high in fiber which work to satisfy hunger for longer periods of time than sugar-filled foods.

Great Food Choices for the Postpartum Diet Include the following:

Salmon, trout, cod, pecans, cashews, almonds, apples, bananas, pears, bananas, melon, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, dried fruits, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, corn, potatoes, yams, spinach, tomatoes, kidney beans, navy beans, brown beans, oatmeal, brown rice, barley, whole wheat bread, cream of wheat, cream of rice, and flaxseeds.

Postpartum Diet & Weight Gain

Because the body is in a state of rebound, weight gain can easily occur. To add to the weight gain potential, the postpartum stage is filled with so many adaptations which create fertile grounds for weight gain. The following are a few hot-spots to look for that may help you keep weight gain at bay:

- Avoid grazing. Make time to sit down and enjoy meals.

- Plan out daily snacks. Raw fruit, raw vegetables, small slices of cheese with whole grain crackers and jerky make awesome choices for the postpartum diet.

- Avoid missing meals which can lead to bingeing.

- Keep a lid on foods high in sugar and fat content as these quickly tack on unwanted pounds.

- As with pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe a daily vitamin to supplement your nutritional needs. If you are breastfeeding, you'll want to discuss your dairy intake with your doctor as well.

- Take time out for YOU!

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