Pregnant Woman








Pregnancy And You

Important Nutrients

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Important Nutrients

Two nutrients which are especially critical to both mother and baby are Iron and Calcium.


Most physicians recommend iron supplements for their pregnant patients because it is very difficult to get adequate amounts from the diet alone. Iron is important for building the red blood cells in the fetus and for the oxygen carrying capacity of blood for both mom and baby. Be sure to discuss your iron status with your physician.

Here are some foods to include in the diet during pregnancy that well help ensure adequate supplies of calcium and iron:

Iron rich foods:

Lean red meats*
Poultry, especially the dark meat portions
Dried beans and Peas
Iron Fortified breads and cereals
Cooked oysters
Cooked clams
Baked Potato

* Red meats are an important source of iron in the diet. If red meats are not included in the diet during pregnancy, the physician should carefully monitor the iron level in the blood and may need to recommend additional iron supplements.

Choose lean cuts of meat, trim fat well and use low-fat cooking methods to get the most nutrition from these foods without excess calories.


Calcium is vital for building strong bones and teeth for the fetus, is beneficial for the mother's own skeleton and it assists in the regulation of her blood pressure.

Calcium rich foods:

Low-fat or skim milk
Low-fat yogurt
Ice milk
Sardines with bones
Canned salmon with bones
Soy products if fortified with calcium

Choose low fat dairy products to avoid unnecessary calories and fat. Low fat dairy products have a slightly higher calcium content than full fat versions because the calcium is carried in the nonfat portion of the milk. For this reason, cream cheese, cream and half and half are not good sources of calcium.

If it is difficult for you to drink skim milk here are two hints:

  • Work toward skim gradually - start with 2% for several weeks, then mix 1% and 2% for several weeks, then 1%, then mix 1% and skim and finally drink skim.

  • Try protein fortified skim milk, it is thicker and whiter and easier for some people to accept.

Recent research indicates that even women who have a lactose intolerance can drink milk if taken in small amounts (less than 8 ounces at a time) and consumed with a meal. Also many women with lactose intolerance can consume yogurt and aged cheeses. Discuss your situation with a Registered Dietitian.


Constipation can be a problem during pregnancy, because the digestive system slows down. This is good, because it allows more time for nutrients to be absorbed as the food moves more slowly through the system. However, the discomfort of constipation can be eased through adequate intake of fiber and liquid in the diet.

Be sure to always drink to 8 - 10 (8 ounce) glasses of fluid daily during pregnancy. Choose water, milk and 100% juice as beverages. Coffee, cola and tea actually act as diuretics and can increase the fluid loss from the body, so limit these beverages. Soda of all types provides only empty calories (or in the case of diet soda - nothing) and is therefore not nutrient rich or beneficial to mom or baby.

Foods which are good sources of fiber include:
Dried Peas and Beans
Baked beans
Whole grains such as whole wheat, oats and brown rice
Oat or wheat bran
White or sweet potatoes with the skin
Prunes, figs, raisins, apples