Is Oatmeal Good for Pregnancy? Recipe Ideas, Benefits and Safety

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Oatmeal is highly recommended during pregnancy because it’s loaded with nutritional benefits and is easy to keep down if you’re nauseous.

Oats are safe to eat during pregnancy, and that includes oatmeal. Oats are also a quick and easy way for pregnant women to stay fuller for longer while still packing a nutritional punch.

I’ll guide you through the benefits of oatmeal, safety considerations and provide some yummy meal ideas.

Is Oatmeal Good for Pregnancy? The Benefits Explained

Oatmeal is loaded with nutritional benefits for mother and baby.

Oatmeal is a very good source of iron (source: Nutrition Data)! It’s not uncommon for pregnant and menstruating women to suffer from iron deficiency. Pregnant women have increased iron demands.

This is to help to compensate for any blood loss that can occur during birth. It is also to help pass oxygen-rich blood to your growing baby and the placenta (source: Nutrition During Pregnancy). If this is something you’re struggling with during pregnancy, then see our list of high-iron foods for pregnancy, too.

A serving of oatmeal will also provide a good amount of the B vitamins, especially vitamin B1 (aka thiamine). Thiamine is important when it comes to the development of your baby’s brain (source: American Pregnancy). 

A bowl of oatmeal will also provide folate (vitamin B9) which is can ward off anemia by helping to create red blood cells (source: Obstetrics & Gynecology). Folate has been linked with protecting against pre-term birth, lowering the risk of complications such as preeclampsia and birth defects like spina bifida (source: Plos One).

Oatmeal contains riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6. These vitamins can help with easing nausea and morning sickness, and the development of your baby’s nervous system (source: American Pregnancy). If you’re experiencing morning sickness often, then you can get our list of foods that fight nausea here – and oatmeal is on that list!

You might be surprised to learn that oatmeal is a decent source of protein. Protein is key for maintaining and building muscle mass. During pregnancy, women need more protein as their blood volume increases and maternal tissues begin to form (source: Advances in Nutrition). Oatmeal is a useful way for plant-based mothers to eat more protein. 

Oatmeal is a good source of manganese. This mineral is also important for growing your baby’s bones (source: University of Rochester Medical Center).

Vitamin A can be found in oatmeal too. Consuming enough of this vitamin helps to protect the immune system, how reproductive organs work and help with the development of your baby’s bones, teeth and hair (source: Nutrients). 

oatmeal in a bowl with milk and strawberries

Can Oatmeal Help with Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy?

There are several reasons why oatmeal can help with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. 

Both niacin and vitamin B6 can help to ease nausea. Niacin can also help to improve digestion (source American Pregnancy).

As plain oatmeal is quite bland, it is not likely to upset your stomach when you are feeling nauseous. As it is high in carbohydrates and fiber, it can help you feel fuller for longer (source: Bob’s Red Mill).

Check out our list of foods that can fight nausea and morning sickness, to help you if you’re feeling rough.

What Kind of Oatmeal is Best for Pregnant Women?

There are different kinds of oats. 

Rolled oats are made from oat groats, like Bob’s Red Mill oats. The oats are dehusked and steamed and then are rolled into oat flakes and lightly toasted. They’re usually cooked in a saucepan with milk.

Pinhead oats are also known as steel-cut oats and coarse oatmeal. They get the name because the oats have been cut into several three-pinhead-sized pieces. These are cooked in a saucepan with milk. 

Instant oats often come in a small pot or sachet with flavorings or dried fruit. They usually require some milk and need to be microwaved for a few minutes. Instant oats are much quicker to make.

Some instant oatmeals are just plain oats such as Quaker’s instant oatmeal, but instant oats can often come with added sugars, flavors and dried fruit. If you’re concerned about the extra sugar some brands could contain, then it’s best to make rolled oats or pinhead oats and add fresh fruit or find plain instant oats.

If you have gestational diabetes, you might want to skip putting sugar or syrup on your oats. Bear in mind that some “instant oats” also have added sugar and flavorings. Always speak to your health professional first.

There isn’t a “best kind of oats” for pregnancy. A lot depends on your preference. Nutritionally, there aren’t large differences when it comes to pinhead, instant or rolled oats – except pinheads have more fiber. The important thing is to be wary of additional ingredients that may be unhealthy but generally, the oats themselves are all fine. 

Is Oatmeal Always Safe During Pregnancy?

Generally, oatmeal is safe when pregnant – whether it’s cooked or if you’re making overnight oats. The safety issues tend to arise with other ingredients. 

If you’re adding fruit to your oatmeal, make sure that it is fresh and clean. See our produce prep guide for that.

It’s also important that any milk is pasteurized. The sale of raw unpasteurized milk is prohibited in the US (source: CDC), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Keep in mind that sometimes artisan brands use raw milk (source: FDA). 

oatmeal cookies with raisins on a plate

Oatmeal Recipe Ideas for Pregnancy

Here are some healthy and delicious oatmeal recipe ideas for pregnancy:

Oatmeal with fresh berries and chia seeds. Whether you make rolled oats, pinhead oats or instant oatmeal, adding fresh berries and chia seeds to your oatmeal is a great way to add in some extra protein, healthy fats and vitamins to your morning meal.

Overnight oats require little preparation and are perfect for busy mornings. Simply add milk and oats to a jar and leave them in the refrigerator overnight. You can eat them cold right out of the fridge. You can also add fresh fruit and seeds. 

Oatmeal banana cookies are easy to bake. You only need one banana and one cup of oats to make cookies! Simply mix the two ingredients together (but feel free to add in chocolate chips) and cook on 350°F for 15 minutes. 

For a twist on a regular bowl of oatmeal, you can bake oatmeal with eggs, milk, spices, nuts and fruit in the oven.

If you’re not into cookies, then oatmeal breakfast muffins are another delicious recipe with chia seeds, milk, eggs and nuts.

One final thing that you might want to know about oats is that they also feature in lactation cookies, when you’re breastfeeding, too.

I hope this article helped you find some healthy ways to enjoy oats during your pregnancy!