Calcium is a very important part of your diet when you are pregnant. Not getting enough could seriously impair your health and the health of your baby. Calcium is essential to fetal development, specifically for the bones and teeth of your baby. It also helps your baby grow a strong heart and normal nerves and muscles. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet while you are pregnant, your baby might actually get his or her calcium from your bones, which is unsafe for your own skeletal health. If you’re pregnant, you should get at lease 1,200 milligrams of calcium every day. Many pregnancy supplements already contain a large amount of calcium; so make sure you don’t take more than necessary as the body can only absorb so much.

You should always try to eat food that is rich in calcium throughout your entire pregnancy. Foods such as milk, cheese, tofu, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, almonds, kale, broccoli, bok choy, dried peas, beans, mackerel, sardines, shrimp and yogurt all contain calcium. If you are not getting enough naturally by eating these foods, you should talk with your health care provider about supplements. If you take supplements without consulting your doctor first, there could be many negative side effects if your body goes through a calcium overload. Too much calcium can cause constipation and kidney stones, which are not ailments that you’ll want to deal with while you’re pregnant. Additionally, you should make sure the calcium supplement you choose does not contain any lead, as it could negatively affect your baby’s fetal development.

Many women in the United States do not get the recommended amount of calcium on a daily basis, both during or outside of their pregnancy. Even after you’ve delivered your baby, you should continue to take calcium supplements while you breastfeed. You should even take calcium supplements for the rest of your life if you don’t get enough in your diet. Women who get the recommended amount of calcium have stronger bones and are less likely to get osteoporosis in their later years. Getting enough calcium is extremely important, especially during your pregnancy, and it is a rather simple thing to do. If you can’t get enough in your diet, supplements will work just as well. Pregnant women actually absorb calcium easier than women who are not pregnant, so taking supplements will not be for naught.

Source: Andrea N Hacker et al: Role of Calcium During Pregnancy. Nutrition Reviews Volume 70 Issue 7 pp. 397-409 July 2012