Nonalcoholic drinks

It's important to stay well hydrated in pregnancy to combat fatigue and avoid constipation, which is a common side effect of pregnancy due to a sluggish digestion brought about by hormonal changes in your body. The advice is for you to aim to drink around one quart of fluid every day. This fluid should come mainly from water, but there are other good sources of fluids including herbal teas (avoid raspberry leaf tea until later in pregnancy), fruit juices, and milk. However, try to drink skim or low-fat milk. Avoid, or limit your intake, of drinks containing caffeine, including tea, coffee, and carbonated drinks, since caffeine interferes with your absorption of vitamins, and it has have even been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. Drink no more than two cups of caffeinated beverages each day.

Staying hydrated:

A fruit cocktail is a delicious treat and a satisfying alternative to a glass of wine.

Cravings Should you give in to a food craving?

No one is really sure what causes food cravings in pregnancy, although it may be a mixture of hormonal, physical, and psychological factors.

  • The most common cravings are for sweet or salty foods; these are OK to indulge now and then, but are lacking in nutrients so try to limit your intake.

  • Cravings for foods such as fruit or fish may be a natural desire to eat as healthily as possible in pregnancy.

  • Strange cravings, known as “pica,” for items such as soap, may indicate an iron deficiency—and should not be indulged!


Try not to feel daunted by the seeming barrage of information available; in reality, just a few dietary precautions are needed


One of the most sensible approaches to eating in pregnancy is to allow yourself most things in moderation


Ensuring the future health of your baby starts now, at the beginning of life. Eat healthily to do what is best for you and your baby

Pregnancy diet Eating for you and your baby

A healthy diet is important at any time, but is especially crucial during pregnancy to ensure that you and your baby have all the right nutrients needed; it will help your baby develop and grow, and help you keep fit and well. Eat a wide variety of different foods each day to get the right balance of nutrients, and avoid certain foods that may be harmful to your growing baby (see What To Eat…What Not To Eat).

Fruit and vegetables

Try to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, especially iron-rich green leafy vegetables. These provide essential vitamins and minerals and fiber, which helps digestion and prevents constipation. Ideally, eat them lightly cooked or raw. Frozen, canned, and dried fruit and vegetables are good alternatives.

The importance of iron

Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin, and you will need to up your intake in pregnancy to support the increase in blood volume. If your diet lacks iron, you may feel very tired and may suffer from anemia. Lean meat, eggs, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit and nuts, and fortified cereals all contain iron.

Starchy foods

Starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, yams, and breakfast cereals, should form the main part of any meal and are an important source of vitamins and fiber. Try eating whole grains—bread, cereals, and pasta—since these contain more fiber and can prevent constipation.


You should have two to three servings of lean protein each day. A serving of protein is 2 oz lean meat, poultry, or fish; 2 tbs peanut butter; two eggs; 4 oz tofu (bean curd). Avoid liver (including liver pâté) since it contains high levels of vitamin A, which can increase the risk of birth defects.

Dairy foods

Foods that contain milk, such as cheese and yogurt, provide calcium, which is essential for healthy bones. It is important that your calcium intake is high before and during pregnancy. Avoid nonpasteurized soft cheeses (such as Camembert, Brie, and Chèvre) and blue cheeses, since these may contain the harmful bacteria listeria.


During pregnancy your blood volume will increase, so it is important to keep up your fluid intake. Water is best, although fruit juices are also good (see Non-alcoholic drinks). Try to restrict your intake of coffee and tea to two cups per day. Alcohol is not recommended (see Fetal Alcohol Syndrome).

Foods to cut back on

Limit your intake of fatty and sugary foods and carbonated drinks, since they contain calories but few nutrients. (Limit diet soda intake as well, since the full effects of artificial sweeteners are not well understood.)

Vegetarian diet

This needs to provide a sufficient intake of iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and protein. Include dairy products, legumes and beans, fortified cereals, eggs, seeds and nuts, and green leafy vegetables in your diet, and talk to your doctor about taking a supplement if necessary.

Light meals:

A freshly prepared salad is an ideal light meal during pregnancy. Unlike “bulky” foods, it is easy to digest and also boosts your intake of essential vitamins and minerals.

Recommended daily servings
3–4 servings of vegetables:

A helping of raw or lightly cooked vegetables provides vital vitamins and minerals.

4-6 servings of carbohydrate:

Whole-wheat breads and other complex carbohydrates help sustain energy levels.

2-3 portions of protein:

A daily intake of protein, such as meat, fish, legumes, or cheese, ensures the healthy functioning of cells.

1-2 servings of eggs or cereals:

Including foods that are rich in iron is important in pregnancy to prevent anemia.

2-3 servings of low-fat dairy:

Dairy products, such as low-fat milk, are an excellent source of calcium, fats, and protein.

5 portions of fruit:

Include a range of different fruits. These are rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Myths and misconceptions Is it true that…

Q: You lose a tooth for every baby?
A: Pregnancy doesn't have to ruin your teeth. There was some basis for this myth back when nutritional deficiencies meant that women might have insufficient calcium to support an unborn baby's needs. Calcium is vital for all women, and your midwife or doctor may recommend that you take a calcium supplement. Good food sources of calcium include: dairy products, green leafy vegetables, canned sardines with the bones, fortified tofu, and fresh fruit juice.
Q: Sweet cravings mean it's a girl, sour cravings mean it's a boy?
A: Many people believe that cravings can predict the sex of your baby. So, if you can't get enough chocolate, you're having a girl, but if you crave straight lemon juice then you're having a boy. However, according to some scientists, cravings don't even exist! There is also the myth that if your partner puts on weight during your pregnancy, then you will be having a girl. If he doesn't put on a pound, then you're carrying a boy.
Q: Heartburn means hair?
A: Heartburn is very common in pregnancy—chalk it up to pregnancy hormones loosening the muscles of your esophagus. But no, it doesn't mean that your baby will be born with a full head of hair!
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