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What to Eat When Pregnant

November 4, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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pregnant woman eating a bowl of salad



Healthy eating is always important, and when you're pregnant it's vital - to ensure that you and your baby get all the nutrition you need.

Pregnancy puts extra demands on your body so you need more energy and nutrients. A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement can help you get more of the essentials, including folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron. You can also boost nutrition by planning your meals and choosing healthy foods that are high in nutrients, like vegetables and fruit rich in colour and high in fibre.

First Trimester

Your energy needs are about the same as before you got pregnant, but you need more nutrients to support your baby's development.  In addition to a daily supplement with folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron, you may also need extra calcium and vitamin D. Talk to your doctor or midwife.

Second Trimester

During the second trimester, your energy needs increase slightly. Eat two to three more food servings each day from Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide to meet your energy needs. Continue taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement. 

Third Trimester

As in the second trimester, eat two to three more food servings each day from Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide. Continue taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement. If you get heartburn:

  • eat small, frequent meals
  • avoid fried, fatty and spicy foods
  • drink a lot of liquids between meals
  • elevate your head and shoulders while resting
  • do not bend or lie down immediately after a meal
  • do not wear tight clothing around your belly 
  • chew sugarless, non-peppermint gum (ideally containing xylitol)

Important: Choose fish low in mercury, such as salmon, rainbow trout, Atlantic mackerel, sole or Dover sole. Limit Bigeye (Ahi) tuna, shark, marlin or swordfish to no more than 2 servings (150 grams) per month. For more information, see the HealthLink BC file: Food Safety: Mercury in Fish.

Morning Sickness

If you have morning sickness (nausea and/or vomiting) during your first trimester, try:

  • eating smaller amounts of food every one to two hours during the day
  • avoiding fatty and fried foods
  • drinking fluids such as apple juice, ginger ale, water, and clear black tea
  • eating whatever appeals to you during this time
  • eating your meals cold to avoid food smells, or having someone else cook

For more information about morning sickness, click here.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Nausea or Vomiting During Pregnancy
HealthLink BC: Pregnancy and Nutrition: Folate and Neural Tube Defects
HealthLink BC: Nutrition and Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Health Canada: Food Guide during pregnancy and breastfeeding
HealthLink BC: Healthy Eating in Pregnancy
Health Canada: Nutrition in Pregnancy

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  1. Activity & Lifestyles
  2. Aging Well
  3. Pregnancy & Parenting
    1. Pregnancy & Birth
    2. Babies (0-12 months)
    3. Toddlers (12-36 months)
    4. Preschool (3-5 years)
    5. Children (6-11 years)
    6. Teens (12-18 years)
  4. Food & Nutrition

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