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Top Tips for Pregnancy Nutrition

Which vitamins and nutrients are key to your baby's health?

Rethink Your Drink During Pregnancy

Pregnant women require about 10 cups of fluid every day. Although plain water is preferable, milk and juice count toward your fluid quota too.

Beer, wine, and spirits work against a healthy baby, however. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy promotes physical and mental birth defects.

"There is no known safe level for alcohol when you are expecting, so the best thing to do is avoid it," Tracy says. If you're worried about taking a drink before you knew you were expecting, talk with your doctor or midwife about your concerns.

What about caffeine? Its effects on developing babies is a subject of debate. Limit coffee to one or two eight-ounce cups a day to be on the safe side, advises the March of Dimes.

Juice seems like a healthy alternative to soft drinks, and it is. However, juice is laden with calories that can cause unwanted weight gain. Other soft drinks, such as soda, supply about as many calories as juice, and may also contain caffeine.

Your Pregnancy Eating Plan

Prescription prenatal pills may provide what your diet lacks on any given day, but when you're pregnant, healthy eating takes center stage. A balance of nutrients is key, according to Jirtle.

"Just because a little of something is good does not mean a lot is necessarily better," Jirtle says.

Moderately active women who start pregnancy at a healthy weight need about 2,400 calories a day. Here are some ideas of what to include on a daily basis:

Grains: 8 servings, such as 1 slice whole wheat bread, 1 cup whole grain cereal; 1/2 cup cooked pasta or rice. (Choose high fiber whole grains often to reduce pregnancy constipation.)

Vegetables: 4 or more servings, such as 2 medium whole raw carrots; 1 cup dark leafy greens; 1 cup cooked broccoli or cauliflower.

Fruits: 2 to 4 servings, such as 1 small apple, orange, pear, or banana or 1 cup berries.

Dairy: 3 servings, such as 8 ounces milk or yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces hard cheese.

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and beans: 2-3 servings, such as 2-3 ounces cooked meat, poultry, or seafood.

Fats, oils and sweets: sparingly.

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Reviewed on October 01, 2008

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