Common Myths and Facts About Pregnancy Nutrition

Myth: “If I am pregnant, I have to eat for two”

Fact: Often people say that during pregnancy you should “eat for two” or double the amount of food you normally eat. But contrary to this saying, eating healthy food is more important. From the third month of pregnancy, you would need about 200-300 extra calories a day. This would mean an extra glass of milk with 1-2 slices of additional bread per day. You definitely need to increase the amount of certain essential nutrients during pregnancy, such as protein, iron, calcium, and folic acid.

Myth: “Every woman has to put on about 30 pounds (about 13.5 kgs) during her pregnancy.”

Fact: The rules about weight gain during pregnancy have changed over a period of time. This is because many women never lose their pregnancy weight gain, increasing their risk for obesity. The amount of weight a pregnant woman needs to gain depends on her weight before she got pregnant. Please check with your doctor about your ideal weight gain during pregnancy.

Myth: "It is ok to occasionally drink during pregnancy without harming the baby."

Fact: There is no real “safe” level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Even drinking less than one drink per week can result in serious birth defects. Moreover, consuming alcohol can also impact the learning ability and growth of the baby and increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Myth: "I have to avoid all the medications during pregnancy."

Fact: There are many medications that can be safely used during pregnancy. But, it is also true that certain medication and nutritional supplements should be avoided at this time. Make sure you talk to your doctor before taking any medication when you are pregnant.

Myth: “If I will consume salt it will lead to swelling.”

Fact: Salt is an important nutrient, even during pregnancy, and its intake should not be completely avoided from your diet just because it could cause swelling. During pregnancy, some swelling is normal, but if your swelling persists you may have to take a closer look at what you are eating. During pregnancy, sodium requirement is slightly higher. But most women get enough of sodium from their typical diet so there is need to use additional salt.

  1. World Health Organization. Healthy Eating during Nutrition and Food Security Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. Cited 2016 May 6. Available from:
  2. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Staying healthy and safe. Cited 2016 May 6. Available from:
  3. Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. Pregnancy Nutrition Myths. Cited 2016 May 10. Available from: 1MB).
  4. National Institute of Child and human development. Infographic: Healthy Pregnancy: Get the Facts. Cited 2016 May 6. Available from:
Myth: “A low fat diet will keep the extra weight at bay.”

Fact: Fat is an important nutrient to help your body utilize vitamins. But it is the quantity of fat that matters. Too much food of any type will be deposited in your body to be used in the future. Opting for a low fat diet can be harmful during pregnancy as food sources that are considered fatty are often good sources of protein, which is very important for you. Your fat consumption should be about 30% of your daily calories.

Myth: “I need to eat meat during pregnancy.”

Fact: The additional iron and protein you need during pregnancy is difficult to get without meat. But, as long as you include the following foods in your diet, you should be able to meet your protein and iron needs:

Talk to your doctor about whether you need additional supplements or foods.

Myth: “If a pregnant woman is craving a certain food item, it means that her body needs to have that food.”

Fact: During pregnancy, women can crave any food type and it should not be the only indicator to assess her nutritional needs at that time.

Myth: “If I’m healthy, then I won’t have any discomfort during pregnancy.”

Fact: Even healthy women may experience nausea, heartburn, and constipation during pregnancy. But women who opt for healthy meals, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and avoid additional sugar and fat can substantially reduce these troublesome symptoms.

Myth: “I cannot have fish during pregnancy.”

Fact: Including two servings of fish per week can benefit both the mother and the baby. Coldwater fish contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids that can help in your baby's brain development and vision. But yes, you should avoid fish that has a high level of mercury, such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel. Moreover, avoid consuming raw fish as well.

  1. Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. Pregnancy Nutrition Myths. Cited 2016 May 10. Available from: 1MB).
  2. American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy Nutrition. Cited 2016 May 10. Available from:
  3. WebMD. The Top 7 Pregnancy Myths. Cited 2016 May 10. Available from: