Pregnancy is a remarkable journey carrying life’s most precious gift, and maintaining good nutrition is essential to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. Proper nutrition helps facilitate an easier pregnancy while supporting fetal growth and development. Yet, determining what to include in your diet can be overwhelming, especially with the plethora of information and advice available.

Dr. Barbara Hessel, MD, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with over 25 years of experience, is dedicated to providing comprehensive care and personalized support for pregnant women in Forest Hills, NY. Dr. Hessel’s expert guidance and passion for empowering patients ensure that every mom-to-be has the information she needs to make informed decisions about her health and her baby’s well-being.

In this post, we will explore the fundamentals of good nutrition during pregnancy, delve into essential nutrients and dietary considerations for pregnant women, and provide practical tips for maintaining a balanced diet throughout each trimester. Dr. Hessel’s expert knowledge and personalized approach offer a reliable resource for pregnant women seeking guidance on fostering a healthy pregnancy through smart nutritional choices.

Navigating the challenges of pregnancy can be challenging, but with professional support and guidance from an experienced healthcare provider like Dr. Hessel, you can confidently build the foundation for a healthy and thriving baby. Delve into the world of pregnancy nutrition and discover how you can optimize your personal health and ensure your baby’s well-being throughout this life-changing journey.

The Importance of Nutrition during Pregnancy

A well-balanced diet during pregnancy is essential for several reasons. First, the nutrients you consume support the healthy growth and development of your baby. Additionally, proper nutrition can help reduce the risk of birth defects, complications during delivery, and excessive weight gain. Lastly, adopting a healthy diet during pregnancy sets the stage for long-term health and wellness for both mother and child.

Essential Nutrients for Pregnant Women

1. Folate and folic acid: These crucial B vitamins help prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in the baby. Incorporate natural food sources of folate in your diet, like leafy greens, citrus fruits, and legumes, along with prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid.

2. Calcium: Supporting the development of strong bones and teeth in your baby, calcium also plays a vital role in maintaining healthy nerves, muscles, and heart function. Pregnant women should consume at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Dairy products, fortified plant-based beverages, and leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium.

3. Iron: Assisting in the production of hemoglobin and preventing anemia, iron is necessary for both a healthy mom and a developing baby. Lean meats, poultry, fish, fortified cereals, and leafy greens are good iron sources. Pregnant women should consume 27 milligrams of iron per day.

4. Omega-3 fatty acids: Essential for the baby’s brain and eye development, omega-3 fatty acids also help prevent preterm delivery. Fish such as salmon and sardines are ideal sources of omega-3 but always adhere to safety guidelines regarding fish consumption during pregnancy.

Dietary Considerations and Tips during Pregnancy

1. Understanding caloric needs: Pregnant women need not “eat for two.” During the first trimester, calorie needs remain the same as before pregnancy. However, expect an additional 340 calories per day during the second trimester and about 450 additional calories per day during the third trimester.

2. Choosing nutrient-dense foods: Opt for foods that deliver the most nutritional value per calorie, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products.

3. Staying hydrated: Drinking enough water is essential for a healthy pregnancy, with a daily recommendation of around 10 cups (2.4 liters) for pregnant women.

4. Managing cravings and aversions: Occasional indulgence in cravings is fine, but avoid consuming excessive sugar and unhealthy fats. For food aversions, find alternative sources for the nutrients found in the avoided foods.

Foods to Avoid during Pregnancy

Some foods can pose risks to pregnant women and their developing babies. To minimize exposure to potentially harmful substances, avoid the following:

1. Undercooked or raw meats, poultry, fish, and seafood: These foods can harbor bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria, which can cause serious infections.

2. Unpasteurized dairy products and soft cheeses: Foods like brie, feta, and queso blanco can contain Listeria, leading to foodborne illnesses.

3. Excessive caffeine: Limit caffeine intake to around 200 milligrams per day. Excessive consumption may increase the risk of miscarriages and low birth weight babies.

4. Alcohol: Pregnant women should avoid alcohol, as it can lead to birth defects, developmental abnormalities, and premature delivery.


Maintaining good nutrition during pregnancy is critical for the health and well-being of both the mother and her baby. By understanding the importance of proper nutrition, focusing on essential nutrients, and adopting a balanced diet, pregnant women can optimize their overall health and provide the best possible start for their baby’s development.

With expert guidance from Barbara A. Hessel, MD. FACOG, a certified obstetrician in Forest Hills, NY, you can confidently navigate the complexities of pregnancy nutrition while receiving personalized care and support in Forest Hills, NY. You and Dr. Hessel can create a tailored nutrition plan that addresses your unique needs and ensures the health of both you and your baby.