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Eating Right Before and During Pregnancy

You need to eat healthy before and after you get pregnant .

There are also some special considerations for mothers who breastfeed. Please see Nutrition Tips for Breastfeeding Moms for more information.


  • Preconception: Make sure that you get enough calories to keep your weight in check. You can adjust the amount of calories you consume to reach your weight loss or weight gain goals.
  • Pregnancy: Increase your intake of 300 calories daily starting in the second trimester. You can monitor your weight and adjust your diet if necessary.
  • Increase your daily intake of 500 calories.


  • Preconception Protein should make up 12 to 20% of your daily calories. You should eat at least 40g of protein daily. If you are 120 pounds, that means you need to eat 44 grams of protein per day.
  • Pregnancy You should consume at least 60g of protein per day during pregnancy This accounts for about 20 to 25 percent of your daily calories.


  • Preconception: The amount of carbohydrates you should consume is dependent on your individual nutritional assessment. Generally, however, carbohydrates make up between 50 and 60 percent of a person’s daily calories.
  • Pregnancy. Some women may develop gestational diabetes, or diabetes during pregnancy. They will need to reduce their carbohydrate intake by 40 percent to 50% of their daily calories. For more information, please refer to Dietary Recommendations on Gestational Diabetes.


  • Preconception. The amount of fat that you should consume depends on your individual nutritional assessment. Most people should consume less than 10% of their daily calories from saturated fat, and as much as 10% from polyunsaturated oil. Monounsaturated fats are preferred.
  • Pregnancy During pregnancy, your body needs more fat. Your carbohydrate goals will determine how much fat you need. Monounsaturated fats are preferred to saturated.


Between 20 and 35 grams of fiber should be consumed each day during pregnancy. The guidelines for general population are the same.


The recommended sodium intake for pregnant women is 3000 mg per day. There may be medical reasons to limit sodium intake in certain cases. If you have any questions about your sodium intake, talk to your doctor.


If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it is crucial to not drink alcohol. Your baby can have serious health problems if you drink alcohol during fetal development.

Artificial Sweeteners

  • Preconception You can safely use any artificial sweetener available on the market.
  • Pregnancy: The Food and Drug Administration has approved sucralose, aspartame-K and acesulfame K for use in pregnancy. Before using artificial sweeteners, consult your doctor.

Folic Acid

  • Preconception Folic acid or folate is essential to ensure that you are getting enough before you get pregnant. To reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifurca and anencephaly, you can start adding 400 micrograms per day before conception.
  • Pregnancy Increase your daily intake of folic acid to 600 mg during pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding Ensure that you get 500 mg of Folic Acid per day.


  • Preconception Between the ages 14-18, you should consume 15 mg of iron per day. You should consume 18 mg of iron per day between the ages of 19 and 50.
  • Pregnancy requires more iron. You should consume 27 mg of iron per day. Anemia can make women more susceptible to iron deficiency. They may need up to 60 mg of iron per day, as prescribed by their doctor.
  • Breastfeeding You can get 9 mgs of iron a day while breastfeeding If you’re 18 or younger, you can get 10 mgs a daily.

Don’t take prenatal vitamins or iron with calcium.


  • Preconception Between the ages 14-18, you should consume 9 mg of zinc per day. Between the ages of 19 and 50, you should consume 8 mg of zinc per day.
  • Pregnancy You need more zinc during pregnancy. Get 11 mgs per day if you’re 18 or younger.
  • Breastfeeding You should consume 12 mg of zinc per day if you’re breastfeeding If you’re 18 or younger, you should take 14 mgs.


You need the same amount calcium before, during, and after breastfeeding. However, it can vary depending on your age. You need 1300 mg of calcium per day if you’re 18 or younger. You need 1000 mg of calcium daily if you’re between 19-49 years old.

Don’t take calcium with iron or your prenatal vitamins.

This information has been reviewed by UCSF Health health professionals. This information is intended for education only. It does not replace advice from your doctor or any other health care provider. Talk to your provider if you have any questions.

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