A balanced, nutritious diet during pregnancy is important
to maintain your health and nourish your
fetus. Be sure to increase your daily caloric intake
by 300 calories after you become pregnant.
The average woman
needs 2,200 calories a day and 2,500 when she is pregnant. If she is carrying
twins, her need increases to 3,500 calories, and for triplets or more, she
needs 4,500 calories.1 Talk to your doctor or a
dietitian about your daily calorie needs because your needs depend on your
height, weight, and activity level.
Your doctor may give you a
nutrition plan to follow throughout pregnancy and while breast-feeding. You may
also receive a prescription for a vitamin and mineral supplement or a list of
recommended nonprescription supplements.
Eating a variety of foods can help you get all the nutrients you need. Your body needs protein, carbohydrate, and fats for energy. Good sources of nutrients are:
- Unsaturated fats like olive and canola oil, nuts, and fish.
- Carbohydrate from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), and low-fat milk products.
- Lean protein such as all types of fish, poultry without skin, low-fat milk products, and legumes.
Eating healthy foods during pregnancy is good for your overall health and for the health of your baby. You may already have a healthy diet, or you may need to make some changes to eat healthier.
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It's also important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These not only give you necessary nutrients but also help you get fiber. Planning your meals can help you add healthy foods to your diet.
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Folic acid is a B vitamin. Taking folic acid before
and during early pregnancy reduces the chance of having a baby with a
neural tube defect or other birth defects.
- Women of childbearing age should get
0.4 mg (400 mcg) to 0.8 mg (800 mcg) of folic acid
from fortified food, supplements, or a mix of food plus supplements.2 This
amount is found in most once-a-day multivitamins.
- Women who are pregnant with twins or more should
take 1 mg (1000 mcg) of folic
- Women who have a family history
of neural tube defects, who have had a baby with a neural tube defect, or who
are on medicines for seizures should take additional folic acid: a daily dosage
of 4 mg (4000 mcg) of folic
acid is recommended. Do not try to reach this amount of folic acid by taking
more multivitamins because you could get too much of the other substances that
are in the multivitamin.4