Healthy Pregnancy Diet Menu Plans

  • Medical Author:
    Erica Oberg, ND, MPH

    Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, received a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado, her doctorate of naturopathic medicine (ND) from Bastyr University, and a masters of public health (MPH) in health services research from the University of Washington. She completed her residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in ambulatory primary care and fellowship training at the Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Washington.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

Quick GuideWhat Not to Eat When Pregnant Pictures: Alcohol, Fish, Fruit Juice, Sushi

What Not to Eat When Pregnant Pictures: Alcohol, Fish, Fruit Juice, Sushi

Vitamin D needs and pregnancy

Pregnant women need 600 IU of vitamin D according to the USDA RDA guidelines; however, many experts believe this estimate is far too low. Humans synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure and there are very few food sources. Additionally, factors such as skin pigmentation, obesity, and sunscreen usage impact the ability to make vitamin D from sunlight. In clinical practice, I measure patients' blood levels of vitamin D and find that many are deficient even if they are taking a 2000mcg vitamin D3 supplement every day. Pregnant women who are concerned about vitamin D can consult a midwife, naturopathic midwife, or obstetrician who is willing to test their vitamin D levels so they know how much they need. Here are a few food sources:

  • 4 oz. salmon, 411 IU
  • 3 oz. canned sardines, 231 IU
  • 8 oz. fortified soy milk, 100 IU
  • 8 oz. fortified cow milk, 98 IU
  • 1 egg, 23 IU
  • 1 cup mushrooms, 114 IU

Are supplements, herbs, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications safe to take during pregnancy?

  • Pregnant women should take a good quality prenatal multivitamin that includes natural folate/methylfolate and iron. Most pregnant women may need supplemental vitamin D based on blood tests. Supplements should remain supplemental to a healthy diet and if the diet includes fruits and vegetables at every meal, most nutritional needs should be met.
  • Some supplements and herbs can also be useful to manage some of the symptoms of pregnancy, such as morning sickness. Ginger and vitamin B6 both have been studied and found helpful for nausea in some women14,15. While commonly used, some over the counter medications that have been recommended for nausea, like antihistamines, actually make it worse for some people16.
  • Magnesium is helpful for constipation, and may reduce the risks of developing pre-eclampsia and other poor birth outcomes17.
  • Herbals teas such as raspberry leaf, lemon balm, and chamomile have been traditionally used during pregnancy and are safe to consume, although mint can exacerbate heartburn, so use with care. Women should discuss all of the medications, supplements, and herbs with their midwife or obstetrician.

What foods and exercise help morning sickness and heartburn symptoms?

  • While bland carbohydrates are commonly recommended for morning sickness and heartburn, studies have actually shown that protein helps more.
  • Eat a low glycemic-load, healthy pregnancy diet to minimize the risks of feeling poorly.
  • Eat regularly to keep blood sugars stable to minimize nausea.
  • Make sure to consume enough water to stay hydrated and to keep bowels moving regularly.
  • Exercise should be regular and not more vigorous that what the woman was used to before pregnancy.
  • Long walks, prenatal yoga classes, and stretching are all excellent options for exercise while pregnant.
  • Research has shown that all types of physical activity are safe in pregnancy except scuba diving, and extra care should be taken to avoid falling.
  • Other healthy habits to help troublesome pregnancy symptoms include getting outside for fresh air, and ensuring good sleep also make a difference for both the pregnant woman and her baby.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/21/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Pregnancy & Newborns Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors