Dallas, Madison, Polk and Warren Counties in Iowa

Nutrition & WIC Foods


We’re here to support you through the journey of motherhood. A healthy mom can start healthy families! Check out our tips for a healthy lifestyle.

Eating well will not only help you stay healthy and feel your best, it will provide your growing baby with the best nutrition.

A gradual increase in calories as the baby grows is the best bet. In general:

  • The first trimester does not require any extra calories.
  • During the second trimester, an additional 340 calories a day are recommended.
  • For the third trimester, the recommendation is 450 calories more a day than when not pregnant.

Additional calories should come from nutrient-dense foods including lean protein, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy, vegetables, and fruit.

While it is important to eat a variety of healthy foods, there are some foods that pregnant women should limit or avoid:

  • Avoid unneeded extra calories by cutting down on foods high in solid fats and added sugars such as regular soda, sweets, and fried foods.
  • Avoid raw or unpasteurized milk, cheese, and juice because they may have harmful germs.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks.
  • Limit caffeinated drinks.
  • Avoid raw or undercooked meat, eggs, and fish because they may have harmful germs.
  • Always heat hot dogs and lunch meats until steaming hot to help kill potential germs.


What about fish?
Fish has many health benefits, and pregnant women can continue to eat most types of fish. Enjoy 2-3 meals of lower mercury fish such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, and catfish.

Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish because they are high in mercury, which can be harmful to your baby.

You should gain weight gradually during your pregnancy, with more of the weight gained in the last 3 months. 

Many health care providers suggest women gain weight at the following rate:

  • 1 to 4 pounds total during the first 3 months (first trimester)
  • 2 to 4 pounds per month during the 4th to 9th months (second and third trimesters)


The total amount of weight to gain during pregnancy depends on how much you weighed when you became pregnant. Talk with your health care provider and WIC nutritionist to find out what amount is right for you.

Women pregnant with multiples need to gain more weight to help support the growth of multiple babies.

There can be risks for mom and baby if too much or too little weight is gained.

Staying active is safe for most pregnant women and will help you have a healthier pregnancy and delivery. A good goal is to aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. Talk to your health care provider to find out what type of physical activity is safe for you. Physical activity can help with: 

  • Constipation
  • Improved sleep and more energy
  • Improved mood

Exercise and moving your body is still important during and after pregnancy.

Exercise is safe for you AND for baby. When in doubt, listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right, then stop. Always check with a doctor if you have concerns.


  • Exercise, like daily walks and light strength training, is safe for you AND for baby.
  • Aim for 30 minutes per day or 150 minutes of movement per week. It is okay to do short intervals of exercise a few times per day.
  • Be careful not to overstretch. Your ligaments start loosening up to help prepare for birth, so it is easy to pull muscles.
  • Use caution with exercises that require you to lay on your back or any crunching of the abs.



  • Wait for the okay from your doctor to return to exercise after baby, usually 6 weeks postpartum.
  • When you start exercising, start slow with short walks or moving around the house.

Everything changes when you have a baby. Some moms may experience the baby blues, postpartum anxiety, or postpartum depression. Learn the signs and how to get help.


Baby Blues


Mood swings after the birth of your baby are not uncommon. It can be confusing to feel sadness after the joy of adding a new baby to your life. It is important not to ignore the changes in your body. Talking about your emotions, changes, and challenges of having a new baby is one of the best ways to cope.


How often do women experience “baby blues?”

Up to 80% of all new moms experience negative feelings or mood swings after their baby is born.


When do “baby blues” occur?

Symptoms of “baby blues” are usually noticeable 4-5 days after birth. They can be noticeable earlier depending on how the birth went.


Symptoms of “baby blues”

  • Weepiness or crying for no apparent reason
  • Impatience
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue – feeling tired/exhausted
  • Not being able to sleep even when baby is sleeping
  • Sadness
  • Mood changes
  • Poor concentration


Causes of “baby blues”

While the exact cause is unknown, it is thought to be related to hormone changes during pregnancy and after birth. Changes in sleep, routine, and emotions after your baby is born all contribute to how a mom feels.


How long do “baby blues” last?

Symptoms of “baby blues” can last a few minutes to a few hours each day. They should lessen and disappear about 2 weeks (14 days) after your baby is born.


How can you take care of yourself?

Taking care of you is the best way to decrease symptoms of the “baby blues.”

  • Talk with people you trust about how you are feeling. You are not alone.
  • Journal all of your thoughts and feelings.
  • Accept help/ask for help – any help can allow you to focus on the joy of your baby and not the pressure of it all.
  • Connect with other new moms.
  • Don’t expect perfection – give yourself time to heal and adjust.
  • Eat well – not eating enough or eating too many simple carbohydrates can make mood swings more noticeable.
  • Ease back into physical activity.
  • Go outside and enjoy fresh air – a different view can make a big difference.
  • Take time for rest, sleep, and things you enjoy.
  • Talk to your doctor if your symptoms last longer than fourteen days.


Postpartum Anxiety – The Other Baby Blues


Postpartum anxiety is different than the baby blues or postpartum depression but can occur at the same time. Changes in hormones, sleep, routine, and responsibility can cause feelings of being overwhelmed, fearful, or panicky.


What are the signs of postpartum anxiety?

  • Can’t relax
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Constant sense of worry that something bad will happen
  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Dizziness &/or nausea
  • Lack of concentration
  • Racing thoughts


When does postpartum anxiety occur?

Postpartum anxiety can occur anytime beginning at birth up to baby’s first year.


How long does postpartum anxiety last?

Postpartum anxiety doesn’t always go away in a few weeks or on its own. It is very important to get help, especially if it is disrupting your sleep or you are having constant preoccupation with worries.


How is postpartum anxiety treated?

  • Increased support – help with caring for baby and other responsibilities
  • Increased sleep
  • Connecting with other new moms
  • Enjoying physical activity
  • Enjoying the outdoors and fresh air
  • Talking with someone you trust, including individualized counseling
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Mindfulness & meditation
  • Talking to your loved ones about your worries and concerns
  • If anxiety continues to get worse, causing distress and impacting relationships with your baby and others, medication may be a safe option.


Postpartum Depression


Most new moms experience “baby blues” (mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping) after their baby is born. Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are more intense and can last longer, possibly affecting your ability to take care of your baby and other daily tasks.


When does postpartum depression occur?

Symptoms usually start in the first few weeks after your baby is born. Sometimes they start earlier in pregnancy or later up to 1 year after giving birth.


Symptoms of postpartum depression

  • Feeling restless, moody
  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or overwhelmed
  • Crying a lot
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • No energy or motivation
  • Not having any interest in the baby, not feeling connected to the baby
  • Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Irritability and anger
  • Feeling like a bad mom, worthless, guilty
  • Unable to think clearly, focus, make decisions
  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Physical problems that won’t go away – headaches, aches & pains, stomach issues


What causes postpartum depression?

Changes in your hormones, sleep, routine, and emotions after your baby is born may contribute to postpartum depression.


How long does postpartum depression last?

Symptoms of postpartum depression can last weeks or longer depending on if it is treated or not.


How to take care of yourself

  • Talk with people you trust about how you are feeling.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider
  • Take time for rest, sleep, and things you enjoy.
  • Ask your partner, family, and friends for help.
  • Connect with other new moms.


When to see the doctor

  • Your baby blues don’t go away after 2 weeks.
  • Your symptoms get more and more intense.
  • Symptoms start within 1 year of having your baby and last more than 2 weeks.
  • It is hard for you to get things done at home.
  • You cannot take care of yourself or your baby (eating, sleeping, bathing).
  • You have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby.


Other treatments for postpartum depression

  • Therapy – talking to a professional and learning things you can do to change how depression makes you think, feel, and act
  • Medication – must be prescribed by your doctor


If you have suicidal thoughts

If at any point you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, get help right away from loved ones and call 911 or your local emergency number.


Additional options if you’re having suicidal thoughts

  • Talk with someone you trust about how you are feeling (partner, friend, doctor, minister, counselor, etc.)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use the webchat –


Family Planning


Family planning provides the ability for you to decide when and if you will have children. It can also help you be in control of how many children you have and how far apart you space pregnancies. There are many types of family planning available.


Preparing ahead for pregnancy gives you time to be in the best health possible for you and your future baby. There are many things you can do such as:

  • Learn which foods and medication to avoid during pregnancy.
  • Take daily prenatal vitamins before you become pregnant to help reduce the risk of certain birth defects.
  • If you smoke, drink alcohol, or do drugs, you can stop or seek help if needed.


Discuss with your healthcare provider which family planning method is best for you and if you do not have a healthcare provider now is the time to get one!