How to Nourish Your Body During Pregnancy—According to a Dietitian

How to Nourish Your Body During Pregnancy—According to a Dietitian

You may feel a bit overwhelmed by the list of ingredients to avoid during pregnancy. But not everything is off limits! There’s also a long list of nutrients you can (and should) load up on to nourish yourself and your baby. 

“Proper diet and nutrition play a major role in setting you and your baby up for a healthy pregnancy,” says Stephanie Lauri, Registered Dietitian + Perelel Panel Expert, specializing in pre and postnatal nutrition. “And as your body changes at each stage, your diet and nutrient intake should too.”

Here are the nutrients you should focus on over the next nine months, plus a crash course in nutrition and fitness for pregnancy with Stephanie and mom and pre + postnatal exercise specialist, Laura Varney

Trying to Conceive

Key nutrients: Folate, DHA and EPA (omega-3 fatty acids), iron, antioxidants

Grocery list: dark leafy greens, beans, nuts and seeds, fatty fish like salmon or tuna, DHA-enriched eggs, full-fat dairy, lean meats and poultry, and colorful fruits and vegetables like citrus, berries, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, beets, and squash

Experts recommend starting a prenatal supplement up to six months before you start TTC to help set the stage for a healthy pregnancy and support your baby’s development from day one.

1st Trimester

Key nutrients: Iron, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iodine, choline

Grocery list: citrus fruits, dairy, eggs, meat and poultry, fatty fish like salmon or light-canned tuna, legumes, dark green veggies, iodized salt, seaweed, shiitake mushrooms, kidney beans, red potatoes, and fortified cereals and grains

2nd Trimester

Key nutrients: Vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, protein, calcium

Grocery list: eggs, meat and poultry, dairy, fish, nuts and seeds, legumes, dark leafy greens, and colorful fruits and vegetables like citrus, berries, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, beets and squash

Avoid processed foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats now more than ever to prevent gestational diabetes.

3rd Trimester

Key nutrients: Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D, fiber

Grocery list: dark leafy greens, salmon, sardines, mushrooms, dairy (both animal or nut milks), chia seeds, broccoli, eggs, lentils, whole wheat bread, pumpkin seeds or pepitas, cashews, peanuts or peanut butter, almonds or almond butter, sunflower seeds, black beans, avocado, kidney beans, and dark chocolate

To stay hydrated, aim to drink 8 to 12 cups (64 to 96 ounces) of water daily throughout your pregnancy.


Key nutrients: Collagen, iron, omega-3 fatty acids

Grocery list: bone broth, slow cooked meats, grass-fed beef, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, cooked spinach, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, oysters, anchovies, eggs, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables

Breastfeeding? Your diet plays an important role in delivering the proper nutrients to your baby, which includes the B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, choline, DHA and needed minerals like iodine and selenium. Continue to follow your pregnancy diet while breastfeeding to continue supporting baby’s growth and development.  

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Stephanie shares a few other best tips for nourishing your body throughout pregnancy.

Eat the rainbow 

Not sure what to reach for when hunger strikes? Lauri centers us with the simple phrase, "eat the rainbow" to using as a guiding light when navigating prenatal nutrition.

"Focus on adding in all different colors of fruits, vegetables and foods in your diet to get a whole host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants," she says.

"Some of my favorite foods throughout pregnancy are eggs, salmon, pumpkin seeds, bone broth and leafy greens."

Expert Tip: Eat your eggs with yolk when possible for an extra boost of DHA.

Of course, your nutritional needs are higher when growing human life so supplementing even the healthiest of diets with a prenatal vitamin tailored to your exact trimester covers your baseline nutrition. Even better? Lauri suggests starting with supplementation when you first start trying to conceive covers you through the first early weeks of pregnancy.

    Layer in daily movement

    Working in movement and exercise should still be part of your routine while pregnant, unless directed otherwise by your healthcare provider. But don't put added pressure on yourself to stick to the high-intensity workouts you may have been doing pre-pregnancy.

    "Movement is always better than no movement," explains Varney. "If you're not doing your regular high-impact workout—that's okay."

    Instead, incorporating slow movement like daily walks or pelvic-floor exercises still go a long way. "You have to be patient with yourself. Even if it's just a 30, 45 minute walk, even that is better than no movement at all."

    Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

    Still feeling plagued with nausea in your first trimester? Lauri advises: "Nausea can be totally individual bc we all have different triggers. If you're able to recognize what's triggering you, that's helpful." In general, she explains, combat nausea with "small meals, more frequently."

    "Drink water in between your meals instead of together. And make sure you're eating balanced meals as it's thought that blood sugar instability is linked to nausea."

    Class is in Session: Pregnancy Nutrition + Fitness 101 


    Be sure to complement your healthy diet with the 1st Trimester Prenatal Pack complete with targeted nutrients formulated for the unique needs of the 1st trimester. Plus, get more tips for pregnancy from the experts who know best.

    This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.