When done right, snacks can boost nutrition, help you feel great

Quick notes:

  • Make snacks ahead of time so you’re prepared when you need something to eat

  • Pregnant women need more folic acid, calcium, and iron

  • The right snacks have substantial nutritional benefits for you and baby

When you’re pregnant it is important to eat right. In addition, some pregnancy symptoms like early-stage nausea or the position of the baby on mom’s stomach may make it hard to eat large meals. As a result, healthy snacks are more important than ever and can be a strong support to general nutrition and the right vitamin regimen.

There are tons of options for snacks, both nutritious and otherwise. Cravings, unexpected hunger jags, and the emotions of pregnancy can make it hard to make the right choice. So what can you do? Here are some ideas for snacks to prep ahead of time so when hunger hits, you’re ready.

Snacks packed with folic acid

Doctors recommend that pregnant women get plenty of folic acid — as many as 400 mcg a day. The nutrient can prevent birth defects in the spine and brain, and support the production of red blood cells. How do you find it naturally? Look no further than leafy green vegetables, asparagus, legumes, eggs, beets, and citrus fruits.

As important as folate is, it is worthwhile to have some simple snacks on hand in your home fridge, work fridge, or even your purse.

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Snack ideas: Start by cutting up some fruits and vegetables and even pre-cooking some hard-boiled eggs. You also may want to make a trail mix with dried fruit and folic-acid fortified cereal. Lastly, remember that making easy to store smoothies isn’t that hard, with minimal prep work and clean up. They can be made with a calcium-filled yogurt base and include fruits and folate-filled kale or spinach. This could also be a great time to start juicing, though it is wise to remember to try to drink juices as soon as possible after they’re pressed so that they retain optimal nutrition.

Easy ways to snack for calcium

Calcium is crucial for bone growth and for keeping circulatory, muscular and nervous systems running as smoothly as possible. Moms-to-be need between 1,000 and 1,300 mg a day. They can find it in expected places like milk, cheese, and yogurt. It may also be in unexpected places like salmon, spinach, broccoli, and kale.

Snack ideas: Once you know where to find calcium, it is easier to see how to add it into snacks. This is another great place to create dairy-based smoothies with yogurt or milk or to treat yourself with some cheese. If you’ve cut dairy out of your diet, there are still plenty of snacking possibilities. You can make an almond-milk or soy-milk smoothie, grab a handful of almonds or spread a spoonful of almonds on fruit like apples, bananas or pears.

Snacking for iron to boost energy

The right amount of iron is crucial for pregnant women. It keeps your energy levels high and helps circulate oxygen for both you and for your baby.

As your blood flow increases during pregnancy, maintaining the right levels of iron in your blood can be a challenge for some moms to be. Adding iron to your diet can help with this as well as helping with moving oxygen to the rest of your body and to your baby. It’s no wonder that iron can help you maintain energy levels! How much iron is the right amount? About twice the amount as you needed before you became pregnant.

Snack ideas: Iron is found in a lot of the other foods you’re taking to fill other nutritional needs so many of the most appropriate snacks are still cut veggies and smoothies that have leafy-green vegetables, for example. Iron is also found in truly whole-grain bread, so try to choose those when you need a carb fix. Bootstrap molasses are also high in iron and if you can add that into your snacks, you’ll be closer to getting your iron needs filled.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101

Mayo Clinic: Focus on these essential nutrients
An overview of the nutrients that keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy

Web MD: A pregnancy snack slideshow
More ideas for nutritious pregnancy snacks