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Important Nutrition for Pregnant Women and Recommended Types of Food

Knowing the essential nutrients for pregnant women will help efforts to maintain a healthy pregnancy. In addition, pregnant women must also be more observant in choosing the type of food so that they are not exposed to health problems due to eating certain foods.

In choosing healthy foods, the nutritional content must be the main consideration. Pregnant women need to know what nutrients are needed during pregnancy. Don't always choose foods based on taste of pregnant women only.

Nutrition Needs and Types of Healthy Foods for Pregnant Women

A healthy diet can not be separated from the amount and type of food consumed. The amount of food needed varies in each trimester. In the first trimester of pregnancy (up to 12 weeks' gestation), the number of calories needed is still the same as the need before becoming pregnant. The amount of calorie intake needs to be added when entering the second trimester, and added again when entering the third trimester.

But just adding more is not enough. The choice of food is also important. The food consumed must contain protein, carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients in equal amounts. This is needed to support fetal growth. Here are a variety of important nutrients needed during pregnancy:

1. Protein

The recommended portion of the protein source is 2-3 pieces of side dishes a day. The portion needs to be added to 1 slice in the second trimester and 1 more in the third trimester. A side dish of protein sources is equivalent to:

  • Half chicken breast
  • 80 grams of fish or beef
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of beans
  • 3 cups of low fat milk

Especially for marine fish, make sure the fish that are pregnant are not contaminated with mercury. Fish that contain lots of mercury are usually predatory fish, such as mackerel or tuna. The higher the position of the fish in the food chain and the bigger the size, the higher the mercury level in the body.

2. Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates consist of two types, namely complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Consumption of complex carbohydrates is more advisable, while consumption of simple carbohydrates needs to be limited because it has the potential to cause a rise in blood sugar and weight.

Examples of food sources of complex carbohydrates are rice and wheat (oats). While foods that contain a lot of simple carbohydrates, for example are cakes, pastries, jams, syrups and sweets.

3. Fiber, vitamins and minerals

In addition to the main nutrients above, namely protein, pregnant women also need to pay attention to fiber intake, vitamins, and minerals, which are contained in fruits and vegetables. The advice for fiber intake for pregnant women is 25 grams per day. This amount is equivalent to 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit. This amount also fulfills daily vitamin and mineral needs.

4. Fat

Some types of fat are needed for the development of fetal eyes and brain, but the amount of fat consumed during pregnancy does not need to be increased. Pregnant women only need to know the type of fat that is healthy and unhealthy. Expand to eat avocados and nuts, which are sources of healthy fats. The choice of oil type is also important. Choose the type of oil that is not saturated, such as olive oil or corn oil.

Keep in mind, sources of protein sometimes contain unhealthy fats in certain parts, so this part should not be consumed. For example, if pregnant women want to eat chicken meat, remove the skin. Or if you want to eat beef, choose a part that has a little fat.

5. Fluid

To prevent dehydration which is at risk of causing a lack of amniotic fluid, premature birth, decreased milk production, and fetal disability, fluid intake during pregnancy also needs to be considered. The amount of fluid needed by pregnant women is 1.5 - 2 liters per day, or the equivalent of 8-12 glasses of water. Be aware of the initial symptoms of dehydration which is marked by discoloration of the urine to deep yellow.

Foods that must be avoided

From now on, reduce consumption of caffeine. The recommended maximum limit is 200 mg per day, approximately 2 cups of coffee per day.

Other foods to avoid are:

  • alcohol
  • mayonaise, because it contains raw eggs
  • undercooked eggs
  • undercooked meat
  • hot dog or hamburger meat, unless fried first
  • sushi
  • unpasteurized dairy products first
  • seafood with high mercury content, such as shellfish

Nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy often occur as a result of pregnant women experiencing disturbances in their diet and digestion. This disorder is generally caused by hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. If left unchecked, lack of nutrient intake can interfere with growth and health of the fetus.

When pregnant women experience severe morning sickness, or mood disorders and gastric acid disease (GERD) that affect their diet, pregnant women should consult a doctor. In addition to alleviating symptoms and treating the cause, the obstetrician can also provide additional nutritional intake in the form of supplements, if needed.



1. Babycenter (2016). Protein in Your Pregnancy Diet 

2. American Pregnancy Association (2018). Pregnancy Nutrition. 

3. Mayo Clinic (2017). Healthy Lifestyle. Pregnancy weight gain: What's healthy?

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