How to choose a well-balanced diet when it matters most.
Colorful fruits and vegetables
Credit: Levi Brown

A balanced diet is key to having a healthy pregnancy. The March of Dimes recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to conceive follow these guidelines.

Vital Vitamins

You'll need higher levels of vitamin supplementation during pregnancy, so talk to your health-care provider about prenatal vitamins containing iron (for healthy blood) and calcium (for healthy bones). Also, pick fortified foods (such as fortified breakfast cereals or orange juice with calcium) -- these are easy ways to get extra vitamins into your diet.

It's also important to take folic acid right before conception and in the early weeks of pregnancy, to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine. All women of childbearing age should take a daily multivitamin containing 0.4 milligrams of folic acid, and include in their diet natural food sources of folic acid. Natural sources include orange juice, green leafy vegetables, beans, peanuts, broccoli, asparagus, peas, lentils, and enriched grain products.

The Well-Balanced Diet

To get the nutrients you and your unborn baby need, plan your meals to include these daily basics:

  • 6 to 11 servings of grain products
  • 3 to 5 servings of vegetables
  • 2 to 4 servings of fruits
  • 4 to 6 servings of milk and milk products
  • 3 to 4 servings of meat and protein foods
  • 6 to 8 glasses of water, fruit juice, or milk
  • Limited servings of fatty foods and sweets

Source: The March of Dimes

Reviewed 12/00 by Jane Forester, MD

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

American Baby