If you were a healthy weight prior to getting pregnant, your doctor will likely recommend that you gain 25-35 pounds gradually over the course of your pregnancy — starting off slowly and picking up as you go throughout the ~40 weeks. Many women don’t gain any weight during their first trimester, and that’s OK. While babies are growing fast during those first few months, they are still small and don’t require a ton of energy to do their thing.
Things start to ramp up during the second trimester as both mom and baby start to grow bigger. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends healthy pregnant women gain between a 0.5 pound to one pound a week during their second and third trimester, adding in extra calories little by little the further along you get. By the time you hit your second trimester, you should work up to getting about an extra 340 calories a day.
While it might be tempting to spend those extra calories indulging in some sweet cravings, it’s still important to eat a healthy, balanced diet to make sure you and your baby are getting the nutrients you need during your pregnancy. ACOG recommends healthy weight women in their second trimester aim for about 2,200 calories a day, or more if they exercise more than 30 minutes daily. These calories should consist of roughly the following breakdown of the five major food groups (grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and protein), with limited intake of fats and oils.
Second Trimester Food Recommendations
7 ounces of grains — Grains help give you the energy you need to grow a person, but they can also be high in calories. Whenever possible, try to stick to whole grains rather than refined ones (like choosing popcorn over tortilla chips), as they contain more nutrients important for growth and digestion. Seven ounces works out to be about two slices of bread, 10 whole-wheat crackers, and a bowl of air-popped popcorn.
3 cups of vegetables — Because two cups of leafy greens (like spinach) only counts as one cup of vegetables, it can be tough to get enough of what you need with just one salad a day. Thankfully, veggies can be added to all sorts of dishes, including pasta, pizza, and sandwiches. They also make great snacks between meals.
2 cups of fruit — It doesn’t take much to get to two cups of fruit a day. One small apple and half a cup of dried fruits is all you need.
3 cups of dairy — Dairy is rich in calcium, protein, and vitamin D — all of which are important for your baby’s growing body. A small glass of milk at breakfast, two slices of cheese at lunch, and a cup of yogurt as a snack, and you’re good to go!
6 ounces of protein — Three ounces of meat is about the size of a bar of soap. Combine that with an egg at breakfast and a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter (not all at once, of course — unless that’s your thing), and you’ve reached your recommended daily amount.
7 teaspoons of fats and oils — Fats found in nuts and fish can be great sources of nutrients, but they can also be really high in calories. Try to limit your daily intake of fats and oils to just 7 teaspoons (one teaspoon is roughly the size of the tip of your thumb) and avoid unhealthy fats like those found in fried or processed foods.
Note: If you were overweight prior to getting pregnant, you might need fewer calories a day during your pregnancy. Talk to your doctor to confirm how much weight you should gain to stay healthy.