Managing Weight Gain
Managing your weight gain during this time is critical for good health, both now and after the baby comes. A healthy weight gain during pregnancy should fall between 25 to 35 pounds. To keep your gain in check, continue to follow recommended dietary guidelines.
Concern for your nutrition should begin when the idea of a baby springs into your mind. Development begins at conception, and it may be several weeks before you get the good news. During those first weeks, cells are dividing, and the baby’s brain and spinal tube (which will become the spinal cord) are already developing.
To aid in this development, be sure to get enough folic acid, which should be obtained first through beans and dark, leafy green vegetables. It is also commonly fortified in foods such as cereals, and can be taken in a supplement. Aim for 230 mcg a day. Not all supplements contain folate, so check the label.
The phrase “eating for two” is corny, but it’s true. Everything you eat is utilized for the growth and development of your baby. This includes the stuff you shouldn’t have, as well as the stuff you should. In general, all doctors will tell you to eat a balanced diet, and to stay away from alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, for your own health and that of your baby.
During this first period of pregnancy your weight gain should only be about two to five pounds. (If you begin pregnancy underweight, this number increases, and if you begin overweight, the number decreases.) Extra calories are not yet needed, but extra nutrients are. Make sure your food choices are nutrient dense (foods that are rich in nutrients and low in calories are considered nutrient dense). Keep your diet low in fat and full of whole grains and fresh vegetables and fruits.
In the first three months of pregnancy, a woman’s hormone levels increase to ten times what they were pre-pregnancy. As you might imagine, it is especially important to consume nutrients connected with hormone production, such as vitamin C, vitamin B
Another challenge faced during the first trimester is keeping a balanced diet while experiencing morning sickness. This affliction doesn’t only happen in the morning, nor does it always include actually getting sick. But it usually includes nausea, which makes getting your daily nutrients difficult. There are a few simple strategies to help keep your diet on track.
Always have a little something in your stomach. Start the day with a plain starchy food, like crackers or toast, to give your stomach acids something to do.
Eat smaller meals (five to six per day) every two to three hours, rather than three big meals per day. This ensures you are getting a steady flow of nutrients even if your meal pattern is interrupted by nausea and napping.
Go ahead and nibble at night if you tend to wake up feeling nauseated.
Avoid high-fat foods and fried foods. They are harder to digest, which can make your symptoms worse.
Take any vitamin and mineral supplements you may be taking with meals. They can promote nausea on an empty stomach.
Drink plenty of water to keep digestion flowing. If your morning sickness includes vomiting, be sure to replenish fluids and electrolytes that are lost.
Queasiness is often triggered by smells, so avoid strong, disagreeable odors.
Get enough rest, and nap when you need to.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth months of pregnancy are commonly referred to as “the golden months.” Morning sickness usually stops, and the discomfort of carrying a human being in your belly has not yet begun. You feel better and can finally eat the foods you have been too nauseous to enjoy.
Plan on gaining between nine and 19 pounds in this period, or one to one and a half pounds a week. To achieve this feat, you will need to consume an extra 300 calories a day. Try to avoid getting these calories from a candy bar or a root beer float. Try adding a bowl of cereal and some fruit as a morning or afternoon mini-meal instead. Remember, you still need to maximize nutrients, because as your baby grows it consumes your nutrients.
Make those extra calories high-nutrient foods. Extra vitamin C will help collagen production for developing tissues. Extra iron nourishes the placenta and increases your blood supply. (Remember, you need vitamin C to absorb iron.) Extra protein will help your baby grow one and a half to two and a half pounds during this time.
Keep exercising, especially if you were lying low the previous three months due to fatigue and nausea. And keep drinking water.
During the last three months of pregnancy your baby will double in size. You may feel like you are too, but your weight gain should only be 10 to 18 pounds, or one to one and a half pounds per week. Don’t be tempted to restrict your calorie intake. You and your baby need those calories for healthy development and strength.
If you are feeling overweight, remember to make the calories count. Be mindful of adequate calcium and protein intake for growing bone and muscle tissue. If you are increasing protein, you may need more vitamin B
Be sure to eat plenty of fiber-rich foods, and even though you may feel as though you spend the entire day running to the bathroom as it is, drink lots of water to keep your system moving.
Continue to monitor iron intake (by being aware of the food you eat and making sure to eat foods rich in iron), and be sure you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, both of which help the baby’s brain expand and develop. These nutrients, too, will help your body heal after the birth.
Cravings are a normal, if exaggerated, part of pregnancy. With so many hormonal changes, and a heightened sense of smell and taste, it is no wonder moms-to-be crave foods. Over 75 percent of pregnant women report weird food cravings. They are most often for sweet foods, especially fruits, but can also include sour, salty, and spicy flavors. Go ahead and give in to these cravings because they are often an indication that your body needs something. Just be sure to combat these cravings in a healthy way. If you are craving a root beer float, it may be the sugar or the liquid your body wants. Try a juicy melon or peach, and see if that quenches your desires.
Along with cravings come the occasional food aversion. Foods you would normally consider delicious could make you feel queasy. When these foods include cheeseburgers or tacos there is nothing to worry about. If, however, the aversion is to spinach, it is important to substitute similar nutrients elsewhere in your diet. Odor can also trigger odd aversions, such as the smell of coffee. Don’t worry, as your senses will eventually get back to normal.