Now that you're pregnant, it's more important than ever to eat the nutrients you and your baby need to thrive. Here's how.

pregnant woman drinking milk
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Take a prenatal supplement every day

It provides the vitamins and minerals you need, such as folic acid, iron, zinc, iodine, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin A (though you should avoid taking more than the recommended daily value of vitamin A -- 5,000 international units -- since large amounts may be harmful to pregnant women).

Watch your weight

Mothers-to-be need to consume only 300 extra calories a day to support their baby's development (that's the equivalent of a container of yogurt and a piece of fruit). Women of normal weight should gain 25 to 35 pounds while they're pregnant; overweight ones will need to add only 15 to 25. If you're underweight, your doctor will likely advise you to put on between 28 and 40 pounds depending on your pre-pregnancy weight.

Eat a variety of foods

It's easy -- just follow the food pyramid. Each day, aim to eat between 6 and 11 servings of whole-grain or fortified breads, cereals, rice, and pasta; at least 3 vegetables and 2 fruits; 3 to 4 protein foods, such as meat, fish, and dried beans; and 3 to 4 servings of low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese.

Limit your fat intake.

Fat should account for no more than 30% of your daily calories. Go especially light on high-fat foods like butter, sour cream, salad dressings, and gravies.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Shoot for 6 to 8 cups of liquids a day. Water is best; consume juice in moderation since it's high in calories. And limit your consumption of beverages that contain caffeine.

Originally published in the March 2003 issue of Child magazine.

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