Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Nutrition

Importance of a healthy diet during and after pregnancy 

  • It is important to remember that during this time, your baby is counting on you for all of the nutrients to grow. Eating a well-balanced meal and daily exercise will help you and your baby be healthy. The goal during and after pregnancy is getting enough nutrients for your baby while maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Eating healthy during and after pregnancy can prevent
  • Excessive gestational weight gain
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Anemia and infections in the mother
  • Poor healing after birth
  • Early birth
  • Low-birth weight
  • How much should I eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
  • Most pregnant women need to eat an extra 300-500 calories during the last 6 months of pregnancy. The exact number of additional calories depends on your weight before pregnancy. Talk to your provider about what is right for you and your baby.
  • Similarly, breastfeeding mothers need to consume additional calories to provide nourishment for their baby. The amount of calories varies, but approximately an extra 300-500 calories is needed as mentioned by the CDC.


Food Groups and Daily Recommendations 

  • It is important to consume the recommended daily servings from each food group during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Food groups and daily recommendations are discussed below:
  • Protein: 2-3 servings (1 serving is approximately the size of a deck of cards)
  • Examples of protein rich foods:
  • Beans and peas
  • Lean beef
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Poultry
  • Salmon, trout, sardines
  • Whole Grains: 3 servings (1 serving is approximately ½ cup or 1 slice of bread)
  • Examples of whole grains:
  • Whole grain bread
  • Cereal, oatmeal, cornmeal
  • Fruit: 2-3 servings (1 serving is approximately ½ cup)
  • Examples of fruit:
  • Canned, frozen, dried fruits
  • Apricots, bananas, mangoes, oranges, tomatoes
  • Vegetables: 2-3 servings (1 serving is approximately ½ cup)
  • Examples of vegetables:
  • Canned, frozen, dried vegetables
  • Carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, bell peppers
  • Dairy: 3-4 servings
  • Examples of dairy foods:
  • Low-fat yogurt, cheese, pasteurized milk
  • Water: 8-12 cups or more
  • It is not part of the food group; however, it is especially important to drink water during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it easier to become dehydrated.
  • To learn more about pregnancy nutrition visit, Pregnancy Nutrition
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a useful tool, MyPlate. Visit, MyPlate to learn more about nutrition and making healthy food choices for every meal. The tool also provides personalized plans based on your height, pregnancy weight and physical activity level.


Physical activity Recommendations

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans pregnant or postpartum women should engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. It is best to spread it throughout the week, an example is 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Consult with your prenatal care provider if you should adjust your physical activity during and after pregnancy.

For more information on physical activity recommendations and guidelines visit, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition

Benefits of Physical Activity 

There are many benefits of engaging in physical activity during pregnancy for you and your baby:

  • Reduces backaches, constipation, bloating, swelling
  • Reduce risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, cesarean birth (c-section)
  • Reduce symptoms of postpartum depression
  • Boost mood and energy levels
  • Promotes healthy weight gain
  • Faster postpartum recovery
  • Physical Activity Safe for Pregnant Women
  • Walking
  • Stationary bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Yoga and Pilates
  • Strength training


Physical Activity NOT Safe for Pregnant Women 

  • Exercise with a lot of jumping and bouncing
  • Contact sports that increase your risk of getting hit in the belly
  • Exercise where you have to lie on your back (after first trimester)
  • Activities that make your body temperature too high (hot yoga, hot Pilates, hot tub, sauna)
  • Avoid activities that increase your risk of falling
  • Warning Signs
  • During pregnancy your body goes through multiple changes. Be aware of warning signs that indicate you should stop exercising:
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Chest pain, or fast heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling dizzy, faint, or headache


For more information on physical activity during pregnancy visit the March of Dimes to learn more about exercise during pregnancy.