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Health Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and the Dietitians of Canada recommend that you exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first 6 months and that you continue to breastfeed for up to 2 years or longer along with complementary foods.

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Home / Pregnant / Weight gain / Healthy calorie intake during pregnancy

Healthy calorie intake during pregnancy

At each stage of pregnancy, eating nutritious foods and making sure to get the right amount of calories is good for your baby's health — and yours.

During the 1st trimester, experts recommend that you eat pretty much like you did pre-pregnancy. During this early period, your baby's nutrient needs are high but he is not growing very fast, so focus on quality, not quantity, and make every bite count!

In the 2nd trimester, your baby is starting to grow quickly, so you really are eating for 2. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that you need to eat twice as much. In fact, it is recommended that you increase your intake by just 350 calories per day, which is approximately equal to 250 mL (1 cup) of 2% M.F. milk, 1 slice of whole grain bread, and 1 large egg.

Continue choosing foods of high nutritional quality to support your growing baby. In the 3rd trimester, you can include an extra 450 calories per day (yay!). That is approximately equal to 1 fruit, 175 g (¾ cup) of 2% M.F. fruit yogurt, 35 g (¼ cup) of nuts, and an extra serving (70 g or ½ cup) of vegetables.

In general, if you include 2 to 3 additional Canada’s Food Guide servings per day from any of the 4 food groups in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, you should be able to reach these extra calorie goals.

Here are some examples of 2 extra Food Guide servings:

  • 1 fruit and 175 g (¾ cup) of yogurt
  • 1 slice of toast at breakfast and 250 mL (1 cup) of milk at supper
  • ½ bagel (45 g) with 50 g (1 ¾ oz) of cheese
  • 30 g (1 oz) of cereal with 250 mL (1 cup) of milk
  • spinach salad made with 250 mL (1 cup) of spinach, 1 hard-boiled egg, and 30 mL (2 tablespoons) of walnuts
  • 1 bowl of cooked oatmeal (175 mL or ¾ cup) made with 30 mL (2 tablespoons) of ground almonds, 60 mL (¼ cup) of applesauce, and cinnamon to taste
  • 1 bowl of plain popcorn (500 mL or 2 cups) sprinkled with your favourite flavouring (such as cinnamon, garlic powder, curry powder, hot sauce, or finely grated parmesan cheese), paired with a tall glass of soda water mixed with 125 mL (½ cup) of orange juice and a squeeze of lemon juice
  • ½ English muffin topped with 1 slice of Swiss cheese and ½ sliced pear


Health Canada. Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. 2011. Accessed April 2017.

Weight gain during pregnancy

Gaining weight is a natural part of pregnancy. This extra weight is attributed to your changing body, your growing baby, as well as extra stores that you will need to prepare your body for breastfeeding.

Your weight gain during pregnancy, however, impacts your baby's health and your well-being both during and after pregnancy. Too little weight gain during pregnancy increases the risk of preterm birth and of having a low-birth-weight baby, and may even lead to difficulty initiating breastfeeding.

On the other hand, too much weight gain could mean increased baby size (which might require caesarean-section delivery), difficulty losing weight after pregnancy, and gestational diabetes or hypertension.

But try not to worry too much. Normal pregnancy weight gain varies from woman to woman and is based on how much you weigh before becoming pregnant. Ask your doctor to help you determine how much weight you should gain.

Make exercise a priority

Pregnancy puts extra physical demands on your body. Focusing on muscles in your lower back and stomach may be particularly beneficial when preparing for pregnancy. However, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.

Throughout your pregnancy, a balanced exercise program can be as important as a balanced diet. Check out the Healthy Pregnancy Guide – Physical Activity and Pregnancy, published by the Public Health Agency of Canada: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-gs/guide/04_pa-ap-eng.php.


Government of Canada. Healthy Eating and Pregnancy. 2014.

Health Canada. Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy. 2012.

O’Connor DL, Blake J, Bell R et al. Canadian Consensus on Female Nutrition: Adolescence, Reproduction, Menopause, and Beyond.
J Obstet Gynecol Can 2016;38(6):508–54.

Health Canada. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. 2011.

American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy Weight Gain. 2015.