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By Traci Guthrie

Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy

Finding out that you are pregnant is an exciting time for most mothers-to-be. It is also a time to start focusing on what changes you need to make in your lifestyle and eating habits. Everything that you eat and drink and everything you do with your body directly affects the new life you are nurturing. Healthy eating during pregnancy is absolutely one of the most important things you can do for your baby's growth and development. In order to get the nutrients you need, you must eat from the basic four food groups.

Fruits and vegetables

Vitamin C and folic acid are important nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, kiwi and papayas. Pregnant women need 70 mg a day. These nutrients are also found in vegetables such as kale, broccoli and peas.

To help prevent neural tube defects, doctors recommend 0.4 mg of folic acid every day. A good source of folic acid is leafy greens. You should have at least two to four servings of fruit and four or more servings of vegetables daily.

Breads and grains

The simple carbohydrates found in breads and grains are your body's main source of energy. Iron, B vitamins, fiber, and some proteins are supplied by the simple carbs. Fortified breads and cereals provide the required amount of folic acid. You should consume between six and eleven servings of breads and grains daily.


The B vitamins and iron that you need in pregnancy can be found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs and beans. Protein is very important to your growing baby, especially in the second and third trimesters. Three servings of protein daily is ideal.

Dairy products

Your body needs at least 1,000 mg of calcium daily to support your pregnancy. Calcium is essential for building strong teeth and bones. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, and yogurt. You should consume at least four servings of dairy products daily.

Sample daily menu

Below is a 2,000-calorie sample menu that will provide you some idea of what a pregnant woman should typically eat in a day for a healthy diet during pregnancy.

1 cup fortified whole grain breakfast cereal
1 cup reduced-fat milk
1 slice whole wheat toast
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 cup calcium-fortified orange juice

1 granola bar
1 cup low-fat blueberry yogurt

1 whole wheat pita
1/2 cup hummus
5 cherry tomatoes, 4 cucumber slices, and 1 cup mixed greens with 1 tablespoon light salad dressing

4-ounce roasted chicken breast
1 medium-size baked potato
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup broccoli florets
3/4 cup coleslaw
1 cup reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup frozen low-fat vanilla yogurt

You may also supplement your diet with a prenatal vitamin. They come in chewable and capsule forms. These can be picked up at your local drugstore. Your obstetrician may even provide you with a sample pack. In some cases you may be written a prescription.

These basic pregnancy dietary guidelines should help you make good choices about what foods you consume to feed both you and your growing baby. Always consult with your obstetrician if you have any questions or have special circumstances, such as being diabetic.

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