Women's Health

Nutrition and Pregnancy


Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is critical for the health of both the mother and baby. It is also essential to remember that the quality of the food is more important than the quantity. Therefore, it is recommended to choose healthy foods with high nutritional value, and avoid unhealthy foods.

Why healthy diet is essential during pregnancy?
  • Necessary for the development of fetal bones and blood cells;
  • Reduces pregnancy-associated pains and health problems;
  • Promotes immunity against infectious diseases;
  • Reduces the risk of iron deficiency anemia;
  • Strengthens the body in preparation for delivery;
  • Boosts milk production for breastfeeding.

Weight gain during pregnancy:
Determining which weight is safe for a pregnant woman varies according to her pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) and health. If her BMI before pregnancy was in the normal range, it is recommended to gain 11 to 15 kg during pregnancy. 

How to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI)؟
BMI = weight (kg) / height (m)2
(Person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of the person's height in meters)
Less than 18.5
18.5 - 24.9
Normal (healthy weight)
25 - 29.9
30 - 34.9
Class 1 obesity
35 - 39.9
Class 2 obesity
40 and above
Class 3 (extreme) obesity

The doctor should be consulted to discuss the needed daily calorie intake in general. The calorie needs during pregnancy varies from woman to woman. Most often, however, the pregnant woman’s needs for calories are as follows:
  • During the first trimester of pregnancy: usual pre-pregnancy calorie intake, with no drastic changes in the dietary needs.
  • During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy: an additional 300 calories are needed.

The impact of obesity on pregnancy:
If the BMI is higher than the normal average and is within the range of obesity, it will negatively affect pregnancy. Obesity in pregnant women increases the risk of developing the following health issues: 
  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Toxaemia of pregnancy
  • Preterm birth
  • C-section delivery
  • Additionally, babies may develop the following problems:
  • Congenital defects
  • Enlargement in the size of the fetus (gigantism), with the possibility of injury during childbirth
  • Childhood obesity

Nutritional needs during pregnancy:
Recommended daily intake
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts. 
Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, orange juice, and almonds.
Meat, fish, poultry, cereals, whole grain breads, legumes, leafy green vegetables, dried peaches, apricots and raisins. 
Folacin (folic acid)
600µg Leafy green vegetables, legumes, whole grains, orange juice, asparagus.​​
(B6) 1.9mg
Wheat germ, meat, whole grains, cauliflower, bananas, avocados, peanuts, sunflower seeds, soybeans, and corn.
The same foods that contain iron, in addition to oysters, wheat germ and brown rice.

  • Vitamin A: Pregnant women need 770µg of Vitamin A daily.
  • Vitamin C: During pregnancy, the needed intake of Vitamin C rises up to 85mg.
  • Vitamin D:  All individuals under the age of 70, including pregnant women and breastfeeding women, need 600 IUs of Vitamin D daily.

Recommended foods:
  • Protein: It is recommended to get proteins from lean meat (e.g. chicken, fish, legumes, etc.) daily.
  • Carbohydrates (e.g. bread, cereals, potatoes, rice and pasta).
  • Fat: It is recommended to get fat from plant sources (e.g. olive oil), and avoid saturated fats from animal sources (e.g. butter).
  • Pasteurized dairy products: (e.g. yogurt, milk and cheese).
  • Vitamins and minerals.
  • Large intake of fiber.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy:
  • It is important to avoid uncooked meat or eggs; because they may contain the listeria bacteria that can be transmitted to the fetus through the placenta causing miscarriage, or stillbirth.
  • Fish:
    • It is recommended to avoid raw fish or oysters that may contain germs (bacteria, viruses or parasites).
    • Certain species of fish should be avoided because they contain a high level of mercury that can damage the nervous system of the fetus (e.g. shark, swordfish, and marlin).
    • It is advisable to limit tuna intake to no more than four medium-sized cans per week (net weight = 140g per can).
    • Some types of oily fish that may contain chemicals from pollution. These chemicals may accumulate in the body over time and be harmful, so it is recommended not to consume more than two servings a week (e.g. mackerel, sardines, salmon and fresh tuna (canned tuna is not considered an oily fish).
  • Caffeine: A substance found naturally in foods (e.g. tea, coffee and chocolate), as well as some soft drinks, energy drinks and some painkillers. It is recommended to reduce caffeine intake during pregnancy, because too much caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight.
  • All forms and products of unpasteurized milk.

Dietary supplements:
  • Good dietary supplements:​
    • Iron: To protect the mother from iron deficiency anemia, and to help with transferring more blood to supply the largest amount of oxygen to the fetus.
    • Folic acid: To protect the fetus from developing spina bifida.
  • Harmful dietary supplements:
    • It is advisable to avoid vitamin A supplements either in food or supplement tablets because it may harm the fetus.
  • Supplements should remain complementary to a healthy diet, not a substitute of it.

Food poisoning:
A pain in the gut accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting, caused by a bacterial infection or bacteria in the stomach. To avoid food poisoning it is advised to do the following:
  • Make sure that food and meat are well-cooked;
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly;
  • Keep the kitchen and the eating and cooking utensils clean;
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet, before and after eating, after handling raw meat, and after contact with pets.

General guidelines:
Fried foods should be avoided and replaced with grilled foods.
It is recommended to eat thoroughly washed fruits and vegetables.
Starting a diet to lose weight during pregnancy should be avoided, because it may prevent the mother and fetus from getting important nutrients.
It is advisable to limit your salt intake, as it causes fluid retention, which leads to high blood pressure.

  • Can honey cause miscarriage?
    • Consuming honey does not cause miscarriage.
  • Can cinnamon cause miscarriage?
    • Cinnamon powder is rich in coumarin, which causes contractions in the uterus, significantly increasing the risk of miscarriage.

Myths & Truths:
  • Pregnant women are eating for two.
    • Truth: Pregnant women’s focus should be on the quality of the food (which is useful for the fetus) rather than the quantity.
  • Caffeine intake (found in coffee, tea, etc.) should be stopped altogether during pregnancy. 
    • Truth: It is recommended to reduce caffeine intake to the lowest possible level, especially during the first trimester of the pregnancy, i.e. the first three months of fetal development. 

Clinical Education General Department
For inquiries, contact us by this email.

Last Update : 10 December 2019 01:44 PM
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