When you are expecting, it’s important to establish a healthy pregnancy diet so you and your baby receive the best nutrition. Remember, everything you consume is also consumed by your baby.

The more you know about prenatal food choices, the easier it is to maintain a healthy pregnancy diet. Incorporating a better diet and understanding nutrition more in-depth allows you to take complete control of your body and baby’s development throughout your pregnancy. Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re eating the right foods.

Your daily diet
Make sure you are enjoying at least three servings of dairy products each day to support your baby’s bone structure and keep your strong throughout your pregnancy. Eat at least three servings of food with a high iron content, allowing you to reach 27mg of iron each day. Foods high in iron include beef, lamb, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach and berries.

It is also important to get at least 70mg of vitamin C each day. Skip the bottled OJ which is high in sugar and opt for a glass of freshly-squeeze juice, and top it up by eating papaya, broccoli, grapefruit and strawberries. Get your daily dose of vitamin A by eating pumpkin, carrots, turnip greens and apricots.

Folic acid is essential for baby’s development, helping to deter against any potential neural tube defects. Load up on leafy green vegetables, chickpeas, black beans and humanely-raised veal.

Foods to avoid
Throughout your pregnancy, there are a few foods you should stay away from to avoid potential health risks to your immune system or to your baby. Do not eat raw fish, soft cheeses and deli meats during your pregnancy, as this can lead to bacterial infections. It is also highly advisable to stay away from seafood during pregnancy to avoid a high mercury level in your blood as well as food poisoning.

Also limit your caffeine intake, as it increases your blood pressure and heart rate and can lead to dehydration. Remember that caffeine is found not just in your morning latte, but tea, soft drinks and chocolate.

Eating a variety of foods throughout your pregnancy is highly recommended, but may still not be enough to give you all the vitamins and minerals you need. Speak to your doctor about any multivitamins and prenatal vitamins that you may be lacking.

Increasing your weight
If you are a healthy weight during your first trimester of pregnancy, it is not always necessary to eat more to increase your caloric intake, unless you are underweight. Your doctor will be able to tell you how many calories you should be eating to get to a healthy pregnancy weight.

During your second trimester, it is important to increase your overall caloric intake by about an extra 300 calories to help with gaining weight and providing enough nutrients for your baby.

By the third trimester, increasing your caloric intake by an extra 450 calories is quite common as the baby reaches its final stages of development before birth.

Make sure you discuss your pregnancy diet with your doctor.

What foods did you love (and love less) during your pregnancy? Share them in the comments!