Practice Paper: Nutrition and Lifestyle for a Healthy Pregnancy Outcome

Paper was published on the Academy website July 2014.

(Abstract published in the July 2014 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Volume 114, Number 7)


It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that women of childbearing age should adopt a lifestyle optimizing health and reducing risk of birth defects, suboptimal fetal development and chronic health problems in both mother and child. Components leading to healthy pregnancy outcome include healthy prepregnancy weight, appropriate weight gain and physical activity during pregnancy, consumption of a wide variety of foods, appropriate vitamin and mineral supplementation, avoidance of alcohol and other harmful substances, and safe food handling. Nutrition assessment needs to encompass changes in anthropometric, biochemical and clinical indicators throughout pregnancy. Pregnant women should gain weight according to the 2009 Institute of Medicine Guidelines. Energy needs are no higher than the Estimated Energy Requirement for nonpregnant women until the second trimester; thereafter, the extra energy need per day is 340 kcal and 452 kcal in the second and third trimesters, respectively. Using the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, registered dietitian nutritionists and dietetics technicians, registered, can help pregnant women select a food plan based on age, physical activity, trimester, weight gain and other considerations. Women are encouraged to participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread throughout the week or 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise on most days of the week. When good food choices are made, food consumption to meet extra energy needs and the increased absorption and efficiency of nutrient utilization that occurs in pregnancy are generally adequate to meet most nutrient needs. However, vitamin and mineral supplementation may be important in vulnerable cases including food insecurity; alcohol, tobacco or other substance dependency; anemia; strict vegetarian (vegan) diet; or poor eating habits. Multiple strategies are needed to support healthy lifestyles for all women, from preconception through the postpartum period. This practice paper supports the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' position paper "Nutrition and Lifestyle for a Healthy Pregnancy Outcome" published in the July 2014 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.