Pregnancy: What to eat, fish, how much weight to gain and more

Cover of "Eating Expectantly : A Practica...

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Tips to maximize health of baby. Part 2 interview with author Bridget Swinney, MS, RD

In our second of three interviews, registered dietitian and author of Eating Expectantly: Practical Advice for Healthy Eating Before, During and After PregnancyPregnancy: What to eat, fish, how much weight to gain and more, Bridget Swinney and I discussed ways to maximize the health of a baby and how much weight a woman should gain. (To watch video, scroll to bottom or click here.)

Neily:In the previous video we talked about the risks of a woman being overweight and what she can do. Let’s talk about a healthy woman. She gets pregnant. What can she do to maximize nutrition and the health of the baby before it’s born?
Bridget:All women should strive for a nutrient-rich diet—one that is based on whole grains, fruits and vegetables and healthy lean proteins. One thing that I find is that doctors often tell their patients not to eat fish because some fish are high in mercury. But actually, eating fish is a really healthy habit to get into. What is recommended is maximum of 12 ounces of a low mercury fish such as salmon, tilapia, shrimp per week. Those are really healthy fish to eat while you are pregnant.
Neily:What about canned tuna?
Bridget:Canned tuna is one of those things—it’s not considered extremely high in mercury but it’s not on the low-end either. So if you are going to have tuna, my suggestion is that you do not have it more than once a week. The albacore tuna, the white tuna, does have more (mercury) than the light tuna. The fish that women want to avoid would be shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel. Actually one of the things I recommend is a website and app called ‘Fish 4 Health’ ( It can help track what fish are the healthiest to eat and also keep track of how many ounces of fish you are eating.
Neily:So, eating fish. Eating a plant based diet. What else can a woman do?
Bridget:Well, they really want to gain the right amount of weight. That’s key for everybody. For most women, it’s the ‘eating for two’ myth. Everybody thinks, I’m pregnant, I get to eat what I want. That’s not true. And it is really easy to go overboard. The truth is you don’t need any extra calories during the first trimester because you just need to gain 2 – 4 lbs the first 3 months, which is not very much. So, generally, I recommend that people just follow their appetite—don’t let the ‘eat for two’ go to your head. Increase the servings of healthy food—like an extra serving of dairy products, a couple of extra servings of fruits and vegetables and maybe a little more   protein and then you already have all those calories and nutrients you need.
Neily:And how much again should a woman gain?
Bridget:For a normal weight woman, 25 – 35 lbs.
Neily:And for somebody that is overweight?
Bridget:For someone overweight, it would be 11 – 20 lbs. And, unfortunately, there is no recommendation for an obese woman. That recommendation should really come from one’s physician.
Neily:Good advice! Thanks so much Bridget. Bridget Swinney, author of ‘Eating Expectantly’. Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition  and we’ll see you in the next video!


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