Women of childbearing age (typically ages 11 to 49) need 400 to 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Folic acid is found in vitamins and foods like breakfast cereal or bread that have folic acid added.


Why is folic acid important?
Everyone needs folic acid, but it’s especially important for women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant. Folic acid is a vitamin that can prevent birth defects.


Getting enough folic acid is important even when you aren’t planning to get pregnant. It’s needed during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant.


Talk with your doctor about folic acid.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your doctor can help you figure out how much folic acid is right for you. You may need more than 400 mcg folic acid if you have a health condition or are taking certain medicines.

When you are pregnant, you need more protein, iron, calcium, and folic acid. But this doesn’t mean you need to eat twice as much. Making smart food choices can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.


Don’t forget breakfast.


Try fortified ready-to-eat or cooked breakfast cereals with fruit. Fortified cereals have added nutrients, like iron, calcium, and folic acid. Look for options with less added sugar.

If you are feeling sick, start with a piece of whole-grain toast. Eat more food later in the morning.


Eat foods with fiber.


Vegetables and fruits, like green peas, spinach, pears, and bananas

Whole grains, like brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and oatmeal

Beans, like black beans and kidney beans


Choose healthy snacks.

  • Low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fruit (choose options with less added sugar)Whole-grain crackers with fat-free or low-fat cheese
  • Carrots with hummus
  • Take a prenatal vitamin with iron and folic acid every day.
  • Iron keeps your blood healthy. Folic acid helps prevent some birth defects. Talk with your doctor or nurse about a prenatal vitamin that’s right for you.

Eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood each week.

Fish and shellfish have nutrients that are good for your growing baby. Eat a variety of seafood 2 or 3 times a week. A 3-ounce serving is about the size of a deck of cards

Physical activity is important for everyone, including women who are pregnant. Staying active during pregnancy can help you have a more comfortable pregnancy. It may also help reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.

If you were already physically active before your pregnancy, it’s healthy to keep exercising. If you weren’t physically active before your pregnancy, it’s not too late to start.

Before you start…

 Talk to your doctor about getting active during your pregnancy. As long as there isn’t a medical reason for you to avoid physical activity during your pregnancy, you can start or keep doing moderate physical activity.

Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activities.