Breakfast During Pregnancy: What to Eat and Why

Breakfast During Pregnancy: What to Eat and Why

Pregnancy is a very exciting time for most women. Their bodies are changing, and so are their nutritional needs. What worked for them prior to getting pregnant may not be the most nutritious meal for them anymore. If you’re having difficulties figuring out what to eat for breakfast when pregnant, this article will help you!

We’ll look at some of the key nutrients that you’ll want to include in your breakfast to start your day off right, the nutrients that you want to avoid and some simple recipes that will benefit you in different situations. Every pregnant woman will need a different type of breakfast depending on the challenges that they are facing.

In general, pregnant women should eat a balanced diet high in a wide variety of micronutrients, but there are some specific foods you can eat to help with some issues you might be having as well. For example, someone who is struggling with morning sickness should eat a different type of breakfast than someone who is struggling with gestational diabetes.

Key Nutrients to Include in Breakfast

granola and fruits on a table

It’s important to start off your day with a healthy breakfast that will keep you energized and uplifted. Pregnant women should make sure they get some key nutrients in during breakfast. Some of the key nutrients that you should try to have in your breakfast include:

  • Calcium. Aim for about 1,000 mg of calcium. Your baby needs it to develop strong, healthy bones. It’s also needed to keep your bones healthy and strong as well.
  • Fiber. Aim to get about 25 to 35 grams of fiber every day, as it helps to lower cholesterol, to stabilize blood sugar and to prevent constipation.
  • Folate or folic acid. Aim for 600 mcg of this daily. It’ll help prevent neural tube defects.
  • Iron. Aim for about 27 mg every day. Iron is an essential mineral needed to help deliver red blood cells and oxygen to your baby.
  • Magnesium. Aim for about 400 mg daily. This mineral will prevent preterm birth, preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications.
  • Protein. Aim to get about 75 grams of protein into their meals every day. Those amino acids are important building blocks that your baby will need for development.
  • Vitamin A. Aim for about 770 mcg of this vitamin. It’s needed for healthy skin, eye and bone growth.
  • Vitamin B12. Aim to get about 2.6 mcg of this vitamin daily. It helps maintain proper nervous system function and development.
  • Vitamin C. Aim for 85 mg of this daily. It’s needed to help the body absorb iron and for healthy overall development.

If you’re feeling queasy, go for a smaller breakfast or even several snacks during the day. You don’t have to include all of the key nutrients above although you should try to at least incorporate some healthy foods into your first meal of the day.

Breakfast Foods to Avoid While Pregnant

pregnant woman saying no to food

When pregnant, there are some food items that you should avoid because they may contain bacteria or other minerals that can do harm to your growing baby. Some of these common breakfast food items include:

  • Caffeine. Anything more than 200 mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to about two cups of brewed coffee, can be bad for your body. Caffeine is a stimulant that will increase both your blood pressure and heart rate, which is not recommended during pregnancy. Caffeine can also cross the placenta and interfere with your baby’s development.
  • Raw and undercooked eggs. This means that you’re going to need to pass on the soft-boiled eggs, as runny yolks can contain salmonella. Although the risk is fairly low, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Sugary foods. Gone are the days where you could fill up on donuts and cinnamon buns. When you’re pregnant, you’re going to want to avoid sugary foods, as it could cause your blood sugar to crash and could lead to gestational diabetes.
  • Unpasteurized dairy products. This includes raw milk and soft cheese, as they can contain listeria, salmonella and other harmful bacteria.

If you’re not sure what you can or cannot eat, speak with a healthcare professional. You might have to avoid many of your favorite breakfast items, which can make it difficult for you to figure out what to eat for breakfast when pregnant.

5 Fun and Easy Breakfast Recipes

Depending on your needs, different breakfast items will be a better choice for you than others. Below, we’ll look at 5 fun and easy breakfast ideas for different situations and needs. Watch the video for a step-by-step on how to make these breakfast items, and substitute any of the ingredients that you don’t like with something that you do like, but do check whether your substitutions are nutritious or not.

Breakfast for Nausea: Whole Grain or White Toast

Morning sickness is extremely prevalent amongst pregnant women and will affect 7 in 10 women during their first trimester. If you’ve experienced or are experiencing morning sickness, you’ll know just how queasy mornings can feel. Stomaching any type of food whatsoever can feel like an uphill battle, which is why you’ll need to choose your breakfast carefully.

Foods that have a higher glycemic index may help with morning sickness, which is why some dieticians recommend eating whole grain toast or white toast. It’ll ease nausea and overall discomfort.

On top of that, studies suggest that vitamin B6 can help improve nausea caused by morning sickness, so add some margarine-like spread to your toast and some fruits, like sliced bananas! Fruits, like bananas, also contain healthy proteins, vitamins and minerals that will help you get through the day!

Added Tip! Pair your breakfast with ginger or lemon tea. Both of these teas can calm queasy stomachs and help with morning sickness.

Breakfast for Gestational Diabetes: Granola

If you struggle with gestational diabetes, you want to avoid having too many sugars in your diet, so say goodbye to donuts, cakes and all those other sweets. For breakfast, you should have granola instead made from oats. Oats have a low glycemic index, so the carbohydrate breaks down slowly throughout the entire morning.

Oats can help regulate your blood sugar levels and it also contains a moderate to high fiber content. It may even help you regulate your blood sugar levels so much that you won’t need insulin injections. Best of all, the high fiber content in oats will make you feel full for even longer, which can help with weight management. It’ll keep you energized throughout the day.

The recipe above gives you many different ways to enjoy granola. You can pair it with some fruits, which is our favorite method of eating granola, or you can add it on top of a smoothie bowl.

Added Tip! Reduce your portion sizes as well to manage your weight and choose healthier carbohydrates whenever possible.

Breakfast for Heartburn: Strawberry Smoothie

When it comes to heartburn, you’ll want to find a breakfast item that’s easy on the stomach and also easy to consume. We highly recommend trying a strawberry smoothie made from low-fat milk. Milk can help ease heartburn by stimulating gastrin production. It also goes down very easy and is a delicious breakfast to have!

The key to this breakfast is to use a low-fat milk option, as fatty milk can make heartburn worse, as it relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and interferes with digestion.

You don’t necessarily have to add strawberries if you don’t enjoy them. You can add other types of fruits as well that are rich in important vitamins. We chose strawberries because it’s a good source of iron, copper, magnesium, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin K, potassium and vitamin E.

Added Tip! Keep a food diary to see what foods trigger your heartburn, which can be different things for different people.

Breakfast for Weight Gain: Avocado Breakfast Taco

Pregnant women need to monitor their weight. They need to gain some weight to support their babies’ development.

If you have a body mass index (BMI) under 18.5, you’ll want to gain 28 to 40 pounds. If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you’ll want to gain 25 to 35 pounds. If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, you’ll want to gain 15 to 25 pounds, and if your BMI is above 30, you’ll want to gain 11 to 20 pounds during your pregnancy.

The easiest way to gain some weight is to add some healthy fats to your diet. The first ingredient that comes to mind is avocados! Avocados are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber and potassium. They can help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and help you gain weight during pregnancy!

One of our favorite recipes has to be the avocado breakfast taco above. It’s fun, easy-to-make and delicious. You can add eggs and other ingredients that are high in protein.

Added Tip! Make sure to have a lot of healthy snacks throughout the entire day, like a boiled egg or sliced apples!

Breakfast on-the-Go: Steel Cut Oatmeal

It is much more common for women to still go to work while they’re pregnant. Many pregnant women won’t take time off until they’re 6 months pregnant, which can be a huge emotional, physical and mental strain.

These women may have a hard time figuring out what to eat for breakfast when pregnant because they don’t have a lot of time to prepare a healthy meal. If you fall into this group of women, one of the best choices out there for you is steel cut oatmeal.

Steel cut oats are a great choice because they’re made from whole grain groats, which gives them a very appealing chewy texture. It’s also really nutritious and contains a lot of healthy fats and proteins. Add in some milk or a soy beverage, as well as some fruits, and you’re good to go!

First, it can be made in several different ways. You can add different types of fruit toppings to give your oatmeal some flavor. Most importantly, however, is that these breakfast items can be prepared the night before or even a week before. Store the oatmeal in a cute little jar with a spoon, and it’s the perfect breakfast for those who are always on-the-go.

Added Tip! If you don’t enjoy the chewy texture of steel cut oats, substitute it with oatmeal. It’s just as nutritious!

Have Fun With Breakfast

Different pregnancy needs will require you to eat different types of breakfast items. However, it can be difficult to find something that works for you depending on your cravings and what your stomach can handle. Some pregnant women may find that they simply can’t stomach specific foods anymore. It just doesn’t agree with their bodies and their developing babies.

The key to having an eventful morning is to eat a nutritious breakfast and to have fun trying out different things. Pregnancy is quite an adventure, and you’ll never know what works for you until you explore the different options available.