Eating for Two

Prenatal nutrition guidelines to keep your baby and you healthy.


All the do's and don'ts that go along with having a baby can be overwhelming, especially when you're holding down a job and fitting in doctor's appointments. We know. That's why we've compiled the most important prenatal-nutrition information into 10 concise tips.

We've also included nine power snacks to help you keep your energy up.

1. Choose from each of the five food groups every day: Moms-to-be need a minimum of the following daily, according to the American Dietetic Association:

  • 3 servings from the milk, yogurt and cheese group
  • 3 servings from the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts group
  • 3 servings from the fruit group
  • 4 servings from the vegetable group
  • 9 servings from the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group

2. Use fats, oils and sweets sparingly: A little bit is OK, but don't go overboard.

3. Focus on fiber: Aim for a total of 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day to help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, both of which are common during pregnancy.

4. Drink at least 64 ounces of fluid every day: Fluid helps regulate body temperature, aids in digestion, works with fiber to fight constipation, and cushions joints and organs. Be sure to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day, more if you're active and during hot weather.

5. Take your vitamins: Ask your doctor to prescribe a daily prenatal multivitamin that contains the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy pregnancy. Folic acid is especially important—you need 600 micrograms daily—because it helps prevent neural-tube defects such as spina bifida. Consider taking calcium supplements if you can't make the quota of at least 1,000 milligrams a day. And steer clear of herbs and other botanicals, as their safety remains to be proven during pregnancy and lactation.

6. Aim for a 25- to 35-pound weight gain: If you began pregnancy at a normal weight, you should gain between 3¼4 and 1 pound per week after the first trimester. (A multiple pregnancy requires that mom gain even more.) Underweight women may be advised to put on more than 35 pounds; overweight women could be counseled to put on less. Never diet during pregnancy, and always follow your doctor's advice.

7. Add 300 calories a day to your diet, beginning in the second trimester: Women carrying more than one baby need even more than 300 additional calories, as do physically active moms-to-be.

8. Abstain from alcohol: Drinking even small amounts can cause physical malformations and developmental difficulties in baby that last a lifetime, according to the March of Dimes.

9. Never eat raw or undercooked animal foods: Due to a somewhat depressed immune system, expectant women are more susceptible to the effects of food-borne illnesses. To prevent such illness, avoid raw or undercooked meat, sushi, seafood and eggs, which can harbor the listeria bacterium. Also avoid deli meats and hot dogs unless they're heated to the point that they are steaming.

10. Avoid soft cheeses: Listeria also can be carried in soft cheeses such as feta, brie, Camembert and blue-veined or Mexican-style cheeses. (Hard cheeses, processed cheeses, cream cheese and yogurt are OK to eat.) For more information on listeria, visit the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition Web site at www. and click on "Foodborne Illness."