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From Bump to Birth: Your Complete Guide to Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

Embarking on the journey of pregnancy is an extraordinary and transformative experience, filled with joy, anticipation, and a myriad of questions. Amidst the excitement, ensuring optimal nutrition for both mother and baby becomes paramount.

In this comprehensive article on pregnancy nutrition, we delve into the essential dietary considerations, offering practical advice and evidence-based insights to guide you on your path to a healthy and vibrant pregnancy. From understanding the importance of key nutrients to navigating common cravings and aversions, we aim to empower you with the knowledge and tools needed to make informed choices and nurture both your own well-being and the precious life growing within. 

Whether you're a first-time parent or a seasoned pro, join us on this journey as we explore the transformative power of nutrition during pregnancy.

Note: There is no specific diet to follow during pregnancy, rather, we want you to focus on nourishing your unique body as well as you can. 

Macronutrients During Pregnancy  

Healthy Fats 

Healthy fats play a crucial role in pregnancy as they are essential for hormone production, which is vital for the development and well-being of both mother and baby. However, it's important to be mindful of the types of fats consumed. Refined seed oils should be minimized due to their inflammatory effects, while good quality fats should be increased. Opting for whole food sources is ideal as they provide not only the necessary fats but also additional nutrients beneficial during pregnancy. Good sources of healthy fats include olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, grass-fed dairy or coconut-based products, and avocados. 

The general recommendation is about 20-35% of total daily calories should come from fat. This equals roughly 70 grams of fat for a woman consuming 2000 calories a day, but this should be calculated based on your unique needs (by a qualified provider). The American Pregnancy Association suggests that pregnant women aim for at least 200-300 milligrams of DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid) per day, which can be obtained from sources like fatty fish or DHA supplements. By incorporating these healthy fats into your diet, you support hormonal balance and promote overall well-being during pregnancy.


Protein plays a vital role in pregnancy, not only for the growth and development of the baby but also for your well-being. It helps stabilize blood sugar, maintain muscle mass, and curb cravings (among other things). In addition to getting enough protein overall, you may need to specifically consider the amino acid glycine. Glycine becomes conditionally essential during pregnancy when the body can’t make enough to meet the increased demands. Bone broth, gelatin, chicken skin, fish, and dairy products are rich sources of glycine.

As the baby grows, so will your protein requirements. Initially, aim for 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and gradually increase to 1.5 grams per kilogram as pregnancy progresses. Choose high-quality animal products and avoid highly processed meats containing additives, MSG, and nitrates. If you’re new to higher protein intake, start with easily digestible options like pulled and ground meats, soups, and stews. Adding digestive enzymes with protein-rich meals can ease digestive discomfort if necessary.  

Example: 150 pounds = 68 kilograms.

68 kilograms x 1.2 grams of protein

= 81.6 grams of protein/day

Fat Soluble Vitamins   

Getting enough fat-soluble vitamins during pregnancy is crucial for supporting both maternal health and fetal development. These vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, play essential roles in various bodily functions, such as immune system regulation, bone health, vision, and cell growth. Adequate intake of these vitamins can help prevent complications during pregnancy and support the healthy growth and development of the baby. To ensure sufficient intake, focus on incorporating nutrient-dense foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins into your diet.

Sources include: 

  • Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel for vitamin D

  • Leafy greens, nuts, and seeds for vitamin E

  • Liver, eggs, and dairy products for vitamin A

  • Leafy greens and broccoli for vitamin K. 


Ensuring an adequate intake of fiber during pregnancy is essential for maintaining digestive health and preventing common discomforts such as constipation. Start with 30 grams per day and gradually increase to 40-50 grams, as tolerated, to support optimal bowel function throughout pregnancy. To increase fiber intake, focus on incorporating a variety of fiber-rich foods into your diet such as: 

  • Whole grains - oats, quinoa, and brown rice

  • Fruits - berries, avocado, apples, kiwis, citrus and pears (including the skin)

  • Vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, artichoke hearts, spinach, and carrots

  • Legumes, beans, lentils, chickpeas 

  • Nuts and seeds - ground flaxseed, chia, hemp

Note: some carbohydrates will have more fiber than others:

1 cup brown rice = 51.7 grams carbs / 3.2 grams is fiber

1 cup raspberries = 14.7 grams carbs / 8 grams is fiber

1 cup avocado = 11.7 grams carbs / 8.4 grams is fiber

2 artichoke hearts = 7.1 grams carbs / 3.4 grams is fiber

2 tbsp ground flaxseed = 4 grams carbs / 3 grams is fiber

Other practical tips for boosting fiber include: 

  • Choose whole fruits over fruit juice

  • Opt for whole-grain bread and chickpea pastas 

  • Add seeds like chia or flaxseed to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, or salads 

  • Eat a serving of berries once a day 

  • Add beans and lentils to meals. 

Remember to increase fiber intake gradually and drink plenty of water to help prevent digestive discomfort.


Staying hydrated and maintaining electrolyte balance is crucial for both maternal and fetal health during pregnancy. Drinking enough filtered water helps support proper circulation, digestion, and nutrient transport, while also aiding in the elimination of waste products and toxins from the body. Adequate hydration can help prevent common pregnancy discomforts such as constipation, urinary tract infections, and even preterm labor.

Maintaining electrolyte balance, which includes minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium, is essential for regulating fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contraction. To ensure sufficient hydration and electrolyte intake, aim to drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces, adjusting intake based on activity level, climate, and individual needs. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will help you obtain some electrolytes. If you prefer to use electrolyte beverages or coconut water, look for options without added sugars and a blend of all the electrolytes (not just salt). We like LMNT and Redmond ReLyte.  

Pregnancy Superfoods 

There are certain foods that offer such a powerful blend of nutrients for both maternal and fetal development that we’re calling them pregnancy superfoods. Some of these include:  

  • Antioxidants - protect against oxidative stress and inflammation for baby and mom. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables (red cabbage, berries, oranges, kiwis, radishes, bell peppers, etc.) are great sources of antioxidants. 

  • Cruciferous vegetables - such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts are good sources of B-vitamins, vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber that support fetal development, immune health, iron absorption, inflammation, and liver detoxification. 

  • Salmon and low mercury seafood - rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids for brain and vision development in baby and to support hormone production a

  • Bone broth - is a good source of glycine, an amino acid that becomes conditionally essential during pregnancy. Bone broth is also a good source of protein and supports gut health. 

  • Leafy greens - contain folate, iron, calcium, and vitamin K, all of which are vital for maternal and fetal health. 

  • Berries - are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support the immune system, digestion, blood sugar, inflammation, and more. 

  • Avocado - is a rich source of monounsaturated fats that are essential for fetal brain development and overall growth and aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Avocados are a rich source of B-vitamins and potassium which helps maintain fluid balance and regulate blood pressure. 

  • Olive oil - is another good source of monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid, which supports fetal brain development and overall growth. Olive oil contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative damage and inflammation. Including olive oil in the diet may also help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, common complications of pregnancy. 

  • Fermented foods - contain probiotics that keep the gut healthy and happy! Gut health determines how well we absorb nutrients, so this is a key piece of the pregnancy puzzle.  

What are your cravings telling you?  

Although pregnancy cravings could be an entire article on its own, we can’t write this article without mentioning them. Cravings during pregnancy are a common phenomenon, with many expectant mothers experiencing strong urges for specific foods. These cravings vary widely among individuals but commonly include foods high in sugar, salt, fat, or a combination of these elements.

Cravings can be influenced by hormonal changes, nutrient deficiencies, and psychological factors such as stress or emotional comfort. Pregnancy cravings serve as signals from the body indicating a need for certain nutrients. For example, cravings for chocolate may signal a need for magnesium, while cravings for salty foods could indicate a requirement for electrolytes.

While it's essential to indulge in cravings in moderation, listening to the body's cues and choosing nutritious options whenever possible can help satisfy cravings while supporting overall health during pregnancy. You can read all about decoding your cravings here.  

Food Aversions 

Food aversions during pregnancy are a common experience, with many expectant mothers finding themselves repelled by certain foods they previously enjoyed. These aversions often occur due to hormonal changes, particularly heightened levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can alter taste and smell perceptions. Common food aversions during pregnancy include strong-smelling or spicy foods, meats, dairy products, and certain vegetables. 

While the exact reasons behind food aversions remain unclear, they may serve as a protective mechanism to avoid potentially harmful substances and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Coping with food aversions during pregnancy involves listening to your body's cues and finding alternative, nutrient-rich options that are more tolerable. Experimenting with different cooking methods, textures, and flavor combinations may help make previously aversive foods more palatable. It's also essential to prioritize a varied and balanced diet, focusing on foods that are well-tolerated and provide essential nutrients for both maternal and fetal health. If you’re having trouble eating a variety of foods due to aversions, consult with our team of providers to ensure you’re getting adequate nutrition for you and your baby.  

To reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses during pregnancy, it's essential to opt for fully cooked seafood and meats, and pasteurized dairy products. Additionally, practicing proper food safety measures, such as washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly, avoiding cross-contamination, and following proper storage and cooking guidelines, can mitigate the risk of foodborne infections.  

Final Thoughts 

Pregnancy nutrition is a complex subject and there are a lot of circulating opinions and advice (solicited and otherwise). Ultimately, you and your healthcare team are the best judges of what's right for you and your family. Use this guide to inform and empower your decisions, but don't forget to trust your intuition along the way!

Check out Prenatal Powerhouses, where we will dive into specific pregnancy nutrients, how much you need, and where to find them. 


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