Water carries nutrients from the food you eat to your baby. It can also help prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, excessive swelling, and urinary tract or bladder infections. As your pregnancy progresses, drinking too little water can contribute to premature or early labor.
How much: The Institute of Medicine recommends about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluids a day during pregnancy. Water, juices, coffee, tea and soft drinks all contribute to your daily fluid needs. Keep in mind, however, that some drinks are high in sugar and too much can cause weight gain. Because of the potential effects on your developing baby, your health care provider might also recommend limiting the amount of caffeine in your diet to less than 200 milligrams a day during pregnancy.
Fats, oils and sweets
There are no minimum requirements for fats and sweets. Choose foods with healthy fats such as nuts, seeds or avocados. Use oil and vinegar as your salad dressing. It's OK to indulge once in a while — as long as you're getting the nutrients you need and your weight gain is on target. To avoid going overboard, control your portion sizes of foods high in fat and sugar.
Ask about supplements
Even women who eat healthfully every day can miss out on key nutrients. A daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help fill any gaps. Your health care provider might recommend special supplements if you follow a strict vegetarian diet, have had bariatric surgery or have any chronic health conditions, such as diabetes. Always consult your health care provider before taking any new vitamins or supplements during pregnancy.
Twins or other multiples
If you're pregnant with twins or other multiples, you'll likely need more nutrients and calories than does a woman pregnant with one baby. Consult your health care provider about how much more to eat.
Feb. 28, 2014
See more In-depth
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- Nutritional needs during pregnancy. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/pregnancy-breastfeeding/pregnancy-nutritional-needs.html. Accessed Nov. 1, 2013.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on TK. Committee Opinion No. 462: Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2010;116:467.
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ001. Nutrition during pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq001.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20131101T1536072807. Accessed Nov. 1, 2013.
- Hibbeln J, et al. Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): An observational cohort study. The Lancet. 2007;369:578.
- Tips for pregnant moms. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.nal.usda.gov/wicworks/Topics/PregnancyFactSheet.pdf. Accessed Nov. 1, 2013.
- Caffeine and pregnancy. Organization of Teratology Information Specialists. http://www.mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets-s13037. Accessed Oct. 28, 2013.
- Routine prenatal care. Bloomington, Minn.: Institute of Clinical Systems Improvement. https://www.icsi.org/guidelines__more/catalog_guidelines_and_more/catalog_guidelines/catalog_womens_health_guidelines/prenatal/. Accessed Oct. 24, 2013.
- Daily food plan for moms. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/daily-food-plans/moms.html. Accessed Nov. 1, 2013.
- Health conditions — Medical conditions, allergies, and food intolerance. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/pregnancy-breastfeeding/medical-conditions-allergies-food-intolerances.html. Accessed Nov. 1, 2013.
- Committee to Reexamine IOM Pregnancy Weight Guidelines, Food and Nutrition Board, and Board on Children, Youth and Families. Weight gain during pregnancy: Reexamining the guidelines. Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. http://www.nap.edu. Accessed Nov. 1, 2013.
- Dietary Reference Intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate. Institute of Medicine. http://www.nap.edu. Accessed Nov. 1, 2013.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed Nov. 1, 2013.