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Do I Need a Special Diet Throughout My Pregnancy?

Do I Need a Special Diet Throughout My Pregnancy?

You probably know alcohol is off-limits during pregnancy, but what about caffeine? Dairy products? Or other foods and drinks? It’s normal to wonder if you need to eat a special diet during pregnancy, and the short answer is yes.

Pregnant women have specific nutritional needs, and eating a healthy, balanced diet helps ensure the health of both you and your baby. 

Bola Sogade, MD, and our team at ObGyne Birth Center for Natural Deliveries provide comprehensive pregnancy care for women, and we’re here to help you figure out what to eat to give your baby their best start to life.

Why your diet matters during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a critical period for both mothers and their developing babies. You need more of certain nutrients when you’re pregnant than you did before you got pregnant, and making healthy dietary choices ensures you get what you need to have a healthier pregnancy.

A healthy pregnancy diet should include a variety of foods from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products. Limit foods that are high in fat and sugar, such as fried foods and processed baked goods. 

Eating a balanced diet gives your baby what they need to develop, and it may even lower your risk of complications. Following a healthy diet also helps ensure you and your baby gain the right amount of weight throughout pregnancy.

Essential nutrients to include in your diet

You understand how important it is to eat a balanced diet that’s rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. But along with making healthy food choices, you also need to make sure you’re getting enough of some key nutrients from the foods you’re eating.

Here are some of the essential nutrients that pregnant women need to include in their diet:

Folic acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin that’s essential for fetal neural tube development. Your baby’s neural tube eventually becomes their brain and spinal cord, and a lack of folic acid during pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

You can get folate from foods like dark leafy greens and beans, but you may not get all the folic acid you need from food alone. That’s why we recommend that all women take prenatal vitamins with about 400-800 micrograms of folic acid daily before and during early pregnancy.


Iron is a key nutrient for healthy blood, particularly the red blood cells that transport oxygen to your baby. When you’re pregnant, your blood volume increases by an average of 45%, and you need more iron to support that increased blood volume. 

Most pregnant women need about 27 milligrams of iron each day. Iron-rich foods include lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, spinach, and fortified cereals.


Your baby needs calcium for their developing bones and teeth, and pregnant women need around 1,000-1,300 milligrams of calcium per day. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, like milk, cheese, and yogurt, as well as leafy greens, tofu, and fortified cereals.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium from the foods you eat. It also helps to support both your and your baby’s immune system.

Pregnant women need about 600-800 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. Good sources of vitamin D include fortified milk, fatty fish, and exposure to sunlight. In some cases, we may recommend taking a vitamin D supplement to ensure you’re getting enough each day.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids help your baby’s brain and eye develop. When pregnant, aim to take at least 200 milligrams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day.

Good sources of DHA include fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, as well as fortified eggs and some types of algae. Omega-3 fatty acids and DHA are also available as nutritional supplements.

Foods and drinks to avoid during pregnancy

Along with foods you should eat, there are also foods (and drinks) that you should avoid when you’re pregnant. These include:

Raw meats, eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products can increase your risk of foodborne illness, which is more serious for pregnant women and can cause developmental issues for unborn babies. 

Food nourishes your body — and when you’re pregnant, your diet matters even more. If you’re not sure what (or how much) you should be eating, you don’t have to figure it out alone.

Dr. Sogade and our team are here to answer your questions and help you find a pregnancy diet that fits your needs. Call our office in Forsyth, Georgia, at 478-887-3506 or request an appointment online to get started.

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