Diet and Exercise

A woman who is pregnant needs extra protein, calcium and calories.

Daily, try to eat:

  • 8 or more servings of complex carbohydrates (rice, pasta, whole grain bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grain cereal, OATMEAL, barley
  • 4 servings of vegetables
  • 3 servings of fruits
  • 3 servings of dairy
  • 2-3 servings of extra-lean meat, poultry, fish and/or legumes
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of fluid daily (mostly water)
  • Minimize beverages/foods sweetened with sucralose (Splenda) or aspartame (Nutrasweet)
  • You may drink tap water OR well water

Foods to limit:

  • Empty Calories
  • Candy, cookies, cakes, pies, doughnuts
  • CHIPS and snack foods high in fat and salt
  • Caffeinated BEVERAGES (limit to 1-2 daily)
  • Hot dogs/deli meats-must be heated to steaming before consuming

Foods to avoid:

  • Alcohol
  • Raw or undercooked animal foods
  • Sushi, raw oysters, under-cooked eggs (sunny-side up or soft boiled)
  • Refrigerated pate or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pate and meat spreads can be eaten
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood (salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna and mackerel) unless it is an ingredient in a cooked dish. Canned fish or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be safely eaten in limited amounts.
  • All cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. Read labels carefully.
  • Certain Ocean fish: Almaco jack, banded rudderfish, canned albacore tuna, cobia, crevalle jack, greater amberjack, south Atlantic grouper, king and Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, little tunny, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tuna (fresh/frozen).
  • Certain freshwater fish: Blackfish, catfish, jackfish, largemouth bass, warmouth
  • Unpasteurized milk and anything made with unpasteurized milk

Weight Gain

Weight gain is one of the few things about pregnancy that you do have some control over. Normal weight gain in pregnancy (limited to 20-30 pounds over the course of the pregnancy) can help ensure a more normal pregnancy with less risk of obstetric interventions, complications and C-sections. Excessive weight gain (over 35 pounds) increases your risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, larger babies, difficult and longer labor and a higher C-section rate.

If you are overweight before pregnancy, your weight gain goal should be around 10 pounds. Weight gain of greater than 25 pounds if you are overweight increases risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, larger babies, difficult delivery, stillbirth and a higher C-section rate. Excessive weight gain in pregnancy doubles your risk of having a baby larger than 9 pounds and may also increase risk of childhood obesity.

Don’t be discouraged if you weigh more by the end of pregnancy than you ever have in your life. The physiological changes associated with pregnancy (baby, placenta, fluid, increased blood volume) will add up to 15-20 pounds by the end of pregnancy. And don’t be discouraged if you see your weight going up faster than it ought to. We are happy to work with you to try and slow the weight gain and may refer you to a nutritionist to help with that. We don’t want you skipping meals or dieting. The best way to avoid gaining too much is to be conscious of calorie intake. Normal pregnancy calorie goals are an additional 100-300 kcal/day. This works out to about a pound a week in the second and third trimester.

If you are pregnant with twins, weight gain goals are approximately 35-45 pounds if your pre-pregnancy weight is in a normal range. This works out to about an extra 600 kcal/day.


Adequate exercise in pregnancy is helpful, both physically and mentally. Some forms of exercise are discouraged for obvious safety reasons (no water skiing, jumping horses, kick boxing, etc.), and others for comfort; but in general, moderately vigorous exercise can and should be continued during pregnancy. You should take care not to overheat and to stay well-hydrated during exercise. Avoid saunas and hot tubs. There may be times when you will be asked to forego exercise for other reasons during your pregnancy.

If you were not exercising regularly before pregnancy, you can still be active with walking. Please talk to a provider before beginning any new exercise regimen in pregnancy.