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Is Oatmeal Good for Pregnancy?

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD
Updated
Learn about the benefits and side-effects of eating oats during pregnancy.

Are you pregnant and craving oatmeal? I don’t know about you, but we just couldn’t get enough oats when we were expecting.

You can dress them up, dress them down, or even add them to smoothies. And aside from eating oats as a hot cereal, there are hundreds of recipes for oat bars and oatmeal cookies!

Whether you’ve always loved the stuff or couldn’t stand it before you found out you were expecting, it can be surprising to have such a specific craving during pregnancy.

In this article, we’ll discuss the many benefits of consuming oatmeal during pregnancy. We’ll even offer up some of our favorite recipes, so you can find new ways to enjoy this nutritious grain.


Is Oatmeal Safe During Pregnancy?

We know the relationship between food and pregnancy can be complicated. It seems like there are new rules for not just what you can eat, but how you can eat it too.

In fact, you’re probably so used to hearing about the things you can’t eat. Even the simplest food cravings can create questions and concerns.

But there’s good news for you if you’re craving oatmeal! Oatmeal — and oats in general — is one of the best foods you can eat during pregnancy.

Oats are safe to eat during every trimester and offer a ton of incredible health benefits to you and your baby. They’re an affordable superfood you can easily include in your diet.

Food Tip

Oats are naturally gluten-free. However, in rare cases, those who have gluten sensitivities have had reactions to them. The best way to avoid this is by looking for certified gluten-free symbols on the packaging.

Oatmeal can worsen symptoms of indigestion and diarrhea if consumed in large amounts. In addition, keep an eye out for some of the instant oatmeal options that have a very high amount of sugar and artificial flavors.

What Nutrients Are In Oatmeal?

Oats are incredibly beneficial for your body and your growing baby. They’re full of vitamins, fiber, and complex carbs, which help give you energy throughout the day. Furthermore, they’re a nutritional powerhouse.

Oats are also a fantastic source of these nutrients:

  • Folic acid: This is great for fetal development. Folic acid has been known to prevent birth defects in babies’ brains and spinal cords (1).
  • Iron: Anemia — low iron — is common in pregnant women. Oatmeal provides an excellent source of iron, keeping you from feeling sluggish and exhausted.
  • Calcium: During pregnancy, your baby takes all the calcium they need from you. Fortify your diet with calcium-rich foods like oats to help keep your bones and teeth strong during this time.

Oatmeal contains complex carbohydrates that break down slowly in your body, keeping you feeling full longer and decreasing the chance of excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes.

Are Oatmeal Cravings Normal During Pregnancy?

Absolutely! Your body is extra needy when you’re pregnant. Everything you eat is fuel for you and the new life you’re growing — there’s a reason we say we’re “eating for two!”

During pregnancy, your body has a whole new set of dietary requirements. Cravings are how your body communicates what it needs — even if those needs are hard to decipher at times.

Food Fact

If you find yourself craving oatmeal, you may need more fiber, zinc, or iron in your diet. Oddly enough, if you usually prepare your oatmeal with milk, your body may also be craving the nutrients in the milk, and not simply the oatmeal alone.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy, specifically the rise in estrogen, increase sensitivity in our sense of taste and smell. This is the case when the smell or taste of food makes us sick during early pregnancy, but it can also play a part in craving a particular smell or taste of food.

Can Oats Help My Constipation?

Constipation is a common problem for pregnant women. It’s most easily solved by consuming oats — or other sources of fiber — and making sure you’re getting enough fluid in your diet.

There are two kinds of fiber. Insoluble fiber moves through your digestive system and cleans out waste and toxins. Soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol and control blood sugar — oats have both (2).

The amount of insoluble fiber in oatmeal can be vital in helping reduce constipation.

The largest caveat? Too much oatmeal without other ingredients can cause diarrhea or indigestion. Everything in moderation!

Remember to increase your water intake along with your fiber intake. Too much fiber without proper hydration can have a counter effect on the body and lead to constipation, gas, and bloating.
Headshot of Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD

Editor's Note:

Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD

4 Delicious Oatmeal Recipes

Somehow, oatmeal and oats have gotten a reputation for being boring. We want to put an end to this unfair stereotyping. Plain oats are deliciously versatile!

Whether you’re cooking or baking with oats, you can add almost anything to make them taste great.

Dress them up for dessert, or dress them down for breakfast!

1. Simple Cinnamon Oatmeal

It’s pretty common for store-bought oatmeal to be high in sugar, which everyone knows we shouldn’t overdo anytime — especially while pregnant.

By using natural sweeteners, as this recipe does, you get a satisfying sweet tooth remedy while empowering your body with the health benefits of oats.

2. Sweet Potato Pie Oats

Who said oatmeal was only for breakfast? Savory-but-sweet oatmeal dishes can be great for a quick lunch or a dinner side.

Combining sweet potatoes — another amazing pregnancy superfood — with the benefits of oats is a winning combination that will leave you energized and satisfied.

3. Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

This recipe is perfect for moms who like to spend time in the kitchen but find themselves too busy to dedicate the hours baking can require. It takes less than an hour to create, and it tastes amazing!

Plus, combining oatmeal and dessert is a great way to feel like you’re treating yourself while still meeting your nutritional needs!

4. Quick Maple Spice Oatmeal

Easy, tasty breakfasts infused with energy-building ingredients are essential while pregnant. This is another gluten-free oatmeal recipe you can enjoy during pregnancy. It brings together a variety of incredible superfoods.

The best part? It’s sweetened with natural maple syrup for a lovely, familiar breakfast flavor.


Are You Hungry Yet?

So you’re craving oats during pregnancy — that’s great! Oats are a healthy and delicious way to get healthful nutrients like calcium, fiber, and folic acid. As we’ve read, they can even help clear up pregnancy constipation when combined with drinking a healthy amount of water.

Avoid pre-packaged oatmeal, and choose old-fashioned or steel-cut oats. You can add those to yogurt or milk for an extra source of calcium.

One final thing to note about oats — specifically colloidal oatmeal, which is finely ground — is its numerous benefits to the skin. That is why you will see it included in many skin products. It has a calming effect on skin irritations and skin issues such as eczema.

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Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD

Dr. Njoud Jweihan is a medical doctor in Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for primary care and women’s health. She has over nine years of medical education and training experience. She also enjoys cooking, traveling and is excited to welcome her first child this summer!