RD, LDN, CBS
Certified in Maternal and Infant Nutrition from Cornell, Angela’s mission is to help people reach their wellness goals. She also helps run a program that teaches pregnant women about how a healthy lifestyle optimizes prenatal and postnatal care.
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Growing a baby is hard work, and your body needs adequate calories and nutrients to do the job well. A nutrient-rich diet during pregnancy is associated with improved fetal health and a healthy birth weight.1 Most women have a suggested weight gain of about 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.1,2 While this seems like a lot, you actually don’t need to eat that much more than normal to meet this healthy weight gain!
It may be tempting to follow the old adage and “eat for two,” but keep in mind that the fetus is very small during the gestation period and eating twice your normal amount is not necessary.3 Instead, focus on “thinking for two.” Pay more attention to filling your diet with quality, nutrient-packed foods to help meet you and your baby’s increased vitamins and minerals needs.4 In fact, additional calories aren’t even needed in the first trimester.3
Read more: Healthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy and Why It’s Good
Gaining the right amount of weight can help decrease risks of pregnancy complications and offers lasting benefits for you and your baby.8,9
Read more: Managing Weight Gain during a Multiple Pregnancy
What do all of these numbers mean in terms of how much you should eat? Well in the first trimester, continue to eat the same amount of food as before you became pregnant, with a special focus on eating high quality, nutrient-dense foods. With you and your baby’s nutrient needs increasing, a well-balanced diet is important.10,11
Think about packing your day with whole, minimally processed foods – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, proteins, beans, low fat dairy, nuts and seeds.10,11
Remember, your caloric needs do not increase during the first trimester (unless you’re carrying more than one baby).7
Read more: Key Nutrients to Support a Healthy Pregnancy
Read more: Meal Plan to Manage Morning Sickness
In the second trimester, your appetite is likely increasing and you should start adding about 340 calories to your daily diet.7
This might sound like a lot, but 340 calories does not equate to very much additional food. In fact, you may find that increasing your food intake by this amount happens naturally by just responding to your hunger cues. You can incorporate more calories by slightly increasing the size of your meals or adding an additional quality snack.
Here are healthful snack and meal ideas that will add about 340 calories to your daily diet:
Need help with quick and healthy meal ideas? Come chat with our team of registered dietitians, fellow moms, and lactation specialists, available from Monday – Friday 8 am – 8 pm (EST) and Saturday – Sunday 8 am – 4 pm (EST). Chat now!
Read more: Meal Plan: Key Nutrients of Pregnancy
In your third trimester, add around 450 calories to your daily diet.5
You may find that it’s becoming harder to eat as much as you used to in one sitting due to your rapidly growing baby. Enjoy small, frequent meals or add in additional snacks to keep yourself comfortable while continuing to get all of the nutrients you and your baby need.
Here are some nutritious snack and meal ideas to add 450 calories to your diet:
Read more: Healthy Snacks for Pregnant Women
Nope! As long as your weight is on track, it is not necessary to track exact calories. Instead, increase the amount of food you eat slightly in the second and third trimesters by responding to your hunger and fullness cues.
If you have any concerns about your weight gain or how much you’re eating, speak to your health care provider. These calorie recommendations are general guidelines, but you may need to eat more or less depending on your specific situation.
Learn about: Foods and Ingredients to Avoid While Pregnant
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Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday – Friday 8am-8pm (EST), and Saturday – Sunday 8am-4pm (EST). Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content!
For more on this topic check out the following articles:
Healthy Snacks During Pregnancy
Healthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy and Why it’s Good
Meal Plan for Increasing Whole Grains
How to Include More Beans/Legumes in Your Diet
Food Safety During Pregnancy
Taste Imprinting While Pregnant and Breastfeeding
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Weight Gain During Pregnancy. Date accessed 21 October 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-weight-gain.htm#weight
2. Medline Plus. Eating right during pregnancy. Date accessed 21 October 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000584.htm
3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Nutrition During Pregnancy. Accessed 26 October 2021. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/nutrition-during-pregnancy
4. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation. Nutrition During Pregnancy: Part I Weight Gain: Part II Nutrient Supplements. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1990. 13, Dietary Intake During Pregnancy. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235252/
5. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Healthy Weight during Pregnancy. EatRight.org. Date accessed 21 October 2021. https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/prenatal-wellness/healthy-weight-during-pregnancy
6. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation. Nutrition During Pregnancy: Part I Weight Gain: Part II Nutrient Supplements. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1990. 7, Energy Requirements, Energy Intake, and Associated Weight Gain during Pregnancy. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235247/
7. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Nutrition During Pregnancy. Date accessed 21 October 2021. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/nutrition-during-pregnancy
8. Office on Women’s Health. Weight, fertility, and pregnancy. Date accessed 21 October 2021. https://www.womenshealth.gov/healthy-weight/weight-fertility-and-pregnancy
9. The caloric cost of pregnancy. Nutr Rev. 1973;31(6):177-179. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.1973.tb05170.x. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/4581116/
10. Mousa A, Naqash A, Lim S. Macronutrient and Micronutrient Intake during Pregnancy: An Overview of Recent Evidence. Nutrients. 2019;11(2):443. Published 2019 Feb 20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413112/
11. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eating Right During Pregnancy. EatRight.org. Revised April 2021. Accessed 27 October 2021. https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/what-to-eat-when-expecting/eating-right-during-pregnancy
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