5 Important Nutrients: Real Food For Pregnancy

5 Key Things for Optimal Prenatal Nutrition

critical nutrients for a strong healthy baby and pregnancy/postpartum from your physical therapist Real Food for Pregnancy

Prenatal nutrition is critical to your baby’s growth and development and your own maternal health. 

The diet you consume while pregnant and breastfeeding is a key determinant of metabolic health of your baby later in life.

Now that I am pregnant with my third baby my nutrition is so important to have enough energy to keep up with my 2 and 4 year old, while nourishing the baby I’m carrying.

Here are a few key foods and nutrients vital for a healthy pregnancy and baby:


Proteins are literally the building blocks of human life and necessary to supply your growing baby; aim for 80 to 100 grams per day from sources including eggs, nuts, avocado, pasture raised animals and birds, nuts, and whole milk dairy products


Did you know our brains are predominantly made of fat and all its structures and functions are dependent on essential fatty acids which we get from foods. It’s best to start building this when your baby is developing so consider including fats from unprocessed real foods including meat, dairy, and plant-based oils like olive, avocado and coconut oil.  Limit processed vegetable oils like corn, soybean and peanut oil, which are high in Omega 6 fats and aim for more Omega 3s.


You can never have enough of these! Nutrients and antioxidants found in non-starchy vegetables (like leafy greens and cruciferous veggies) are so important during pregnancy for you and baby.  They can also prevent constipation by creating and maintaining a diverse gut microbiome ????

Healthy Carbohydrates

A high carbohydrate diet during pregnancy (especially high in refined carbs) can actually be linked to higher chances of developing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, gallbladder disease in pregnancy and baby having metabolic problems in life.  Therefore, choosing the right carbohydrates including whole and unrefined grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and full fat dairy products is important.  Aim for 100-150 g a day.


Water is vital for maintaining good circulation, which brings nutrients to your baby, aids in digestion, helps with oxygen transport, regulates body temperature and removes waste products.  Aim for 100 oz a day.

As an aside: For me (and many others) the first trimester and the beginning of the second is a really tough time to eat good foods. Therefore, remember that the foods you eat before you are pregnant can still provide nutrition during those weeks when all that tastes good are mac n cheese, cereal, pizza, etc.


Sources:  Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols RDN, CDE

Birth Doula Guide by Kelli Brus, DONA

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