During first-trimester nausea (or whole-pregnancy nausea, for the unlucky ones), carbohydrates like pasta, bread and crackers can be lifesavers, calming a reeling stomach. Happily, they're also an essential part of a nutritious pregnancy diet.
Carbohydrates are excellent sources of energy and often fiber. But we're not talking white bread, cake and regular pasta here -- those are simple carbohydrates and aren't the most nutritious.
Pregnant women (and everyone else) should aim for complex carbohydrates, specifically whole grains -- six to 11 servings per day. That includes whole-grain cereal, barley, whole-wheat bread and pasta, sweet potatoes, oats and bran. These foods provide not only much-needed energy but also, in many cases, healthy dietary fiber. Such fiber has digestive benefits that can be of particular importance for pregnant women: Fiber can help ease constipation and reduce the risk of preeclampsia [source: Bouchez].
Some whole-grain cereals also contain folic acid, which is essential during pregnancy.
Up next: lots of options for lots of nutritional value.