illustration of eating for two; a mother and baby

When you are pregnant, you need more nutrients than before.

Eating healthy is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your baby during pregnancy. You may be “eating for two,” but may not need to eat as much as you might think. In fact, most women only need an extra 300 calories during their second and third trimesters. Picking out the foods with the right nutrients can help your baby grow.


Protein provides the “building blocks” for both you and your baby. Choose lean meats like chicken, beef, and turkey. Fish low in mercury, such as salmon, is also a good option. If you are a vegetarian, be sure to have plenty of dairy, beans, eggs, or soy.


Iron helps your body get oxygen and blood to your baby as they grow. Beef, chicken, turkey, sardines, lentils, spinach, and beans all have iron. If you eat foods high in iron at the same time as foods high in Vitamin C (such as an orange), you can help your body absorb iron even better.


Calcium helps your baby’s bones, teeth, and muscles to develop. Dairy products as well as leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens, and broccoli are great foods to eat during pregnancy.

Folic Acid

By taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid each day, you can help lower your baby’s risk of disabilities. You can start taking folic acid one month before you even start trying to get pregnant. Natural sources of folic acid include beans, green leafy vegetables, and citrus fruits. Folic acid can also be found in cereals, pasta, and bread, as well as prenatal supplements.

By Rebecca Ditkoff, MPH, RD

Rebecca Ditkoff