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Healthy Hints for Pregnant Women

Give your baby a great start in life. What you eat, the amount of weight you gain and the healthy things you do during your pregnancy can help your baby for its entire life.

Do I have to eat for two?

Your energy and nutrient needs are certainly greater when you are pregnant, but being pregnant does not mean you have to eat twice as much. Most pregnant women only need about 300 extra calories daily.

Choose a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals & breads, low fat meats, beans, nuts and dairy.

For women of childbearing age and children under 15, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services advises extra caution about eating Michigan fish. Some Michigan fish contain toxic chemicals that may be harmful if eaten too often. In addition, women of childbearing age, particularly those pregnant or nursing, and children under 15 should not eat the following fish due to mercury levels: Swordfish, Shark, King Mackerel, Tilefish.

For a copy of the Michigan Fish Advisory, including information about mercury in fish, click here.

Supplemental Vitamins & Minerals

A well-balanced varied diet from the 5 food groups can usually provide most of the vitamins and minerals needed for pregnancy, except for iron and folic acid. Your doctor or registered dietitian may recommend a vitamin and mineral supplement to help ensure you are getting the iron, folic acid and other important nutrients you need.


Pregnant women need extra fluids. Drink at least 8 - 12 cups daily. Some examples of fluids include milk, juice, water, and soup.

How much weight should I gain?

The amount of weight to gain during your pregnancy will depend on how much you weighed before you became pregnant. Every woman is different.

  • If you were at a healthy weight for height before becoming pregnant, you can gain 25 to 35 pounds.
  • If you were underweight, you can gain 28 to 40 pounds.
  • If you were overweight, you can gain 15 to 25 pounds.

Short women should gain at the low end of their range. Teenagers should plan to gain at the high end of their range.

If you are underweight, choose the largest number in the range. If you are overweight, choose the smallest.

It is important to gain weight slowly and steadily over the 9 months. Usually 2-4 pounds are gained in the first three months and 1 pound per week after that.

Discuss with your doctor how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.

How can I deal with discomforts of pregnancy?

Women experience many changes and challenges during pregnancy. Common ones are:

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness or nausea usually happens during the first three months of pregnancy. In spite of its name, it can occur at any time of day. Some helpful ways to cope are:

  • Eat some crackers or dry cereal before getting up in the morning.
  • Get out of bed slowly.
  • Eat small portions of food at meals and snacks to avoid having an empty stomach.
  • Drink water or other beverages between meals.
  • Avoid spicy and strong flavored foods.
  • If the smell of food bothers you, ask somebody else to cook for you.


Constipation can be a problem in the last few months of pregnancy. Sometimes it is due to not enough fluid or fiber, or lack of exercise. Some ways to help avoid constipation are:

  • Eat a high fiber diet, but start slowly, increasing the amount of fiber a little each day.
  • Foods rich in fiber are: whole wheat breads, bran cereals, fruits, vegetables and cooked dry beans. Prunes, prune juice and figs are very high in fiber and may also help.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (at least 8 cups a day) and stay physically active.


As the baby grows, he or she adds pressure to the mother's body. During the last few months of pregnancy the pressure can cause heartburn. Consider the following tips:

  • Eat small, frequent meals.
  • After a meal, sit comfortably, but do not lie down.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty meals.
  • Eat slowly, chewing foods well.

You can make a difference...Drop the drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes! Only take medications after your doctor's approval.

For more information about pregnancy, check out the My Web MD website at

If you would like to know more about this subject and get individualized information about it, contact the WIC office in our area.

The WIC Program can help during pregnancy. If you believe you qualify for WIC, contact 211 for the phone number of your local WIC Office.