Weight Gain and Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

  • HEALTHY EATING FOR A HEALTHY BABY : You’re having a baby. Congratulations! Being pregnant can be wonderful. It can also be confusing. Don’t worry. It’s normal to have a lot of questions. You want to know how to eat and how much weight to gain. Maybe you want to know what to do about morning sickness. These papers will help answer these and other questions you may have about healthy eating for you and your baby.
  • GETTING TO KNOW NUTRIENTS : Foods contain nutrients that help you stay healthy and full of energy. The nutrients you need include calcium and protein, as well as carbohydrates, water and some kinds of fats. Your growing baby needs nutrients too. Like you, your baby gets them from the goods you eat. As you read these pages, you’ll find out how many servings of each nutrient you need daily.
  • EATING FOR TWO: Right now you need enough each nutrient to help your baby grow and to keep your own body healthy. That’s why you need to eat healthy foods. When you choose healthy foods, your baby is less likely to be born too early or too small and less likely to have certain types of birth defects. You are less likely to to feel tired and more likely to have an easier delivery.
  • DOESN’T MEAN EATING TWICE AS MUCH: Although you need more nutrients, you don’t need many more calories. In fact, you only need about 300 more calories a day than before you were pregnant.
  • CALCIUM; GREAT FOR BONES: When you’re pregnant, you need extra calcium to help build your baby’s bones and teeth. You also need calcium to keep your own bones strong. If you don’t eat enough calcium rich goods, your body will take calcium fo the baby from your bones. This means your bones may become weak later in life.
  • DAIRY FOODS; MORE THAN JUST MILK: Ounce for ounce, dairy foods have more calcium than any other food but they can be high in fat. Try eating low fat or fat free forms of hard cheese, milk, ricotta or cottage cheese and yogurt.
  • IF YOU DON’T LIKE DAIRY: There are still plenty of ways to get enough calcium. Broccoli, bok choy, collards, turnip greens are good examples. Calcium added foods are soy cheese, soy milk or soy yogurt, tofu, rice milk or orange juice. Canned fish with bones, salmon or sardines.
  • IF DAIRY IS HARD TO DIGEST: If you have a hard time digesting dairy foods, ask your health care provider about Lactose reduced milk or yogurt, Latase enzymes ( you can find these in drops or pills in many grocery stores). Try Calcium carbonate pills. Calcium in this form is easy to absorb.
  • PROTEIN; BUILDING YOUR BABY: Think of protein as building blocks. Millions of these protein blocks go into making nearly every part of your baby. Without them, your baby can’t grow. That’s why you need to eat enough protein. If you don’t, your body will take protein from you to meet your baby’s needs. Eat three servings of protein daily.
  • HIGH QUALITY PROTEINS: A CUT ABOVE: Your body can easily use the type of protein that comes from animals. Good sources of high quality protein include chicken, turkey, lean red meat, fish and eggs.
  • WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TAKE MY SUPPLEMENTS? Help your body get the most from vitamin and mineral pills by doing these things; take you pills along with food, take iron pills with tomato juice or other vitamin C foods (except orange juice that has added calcium. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. Take calcium and iron pills at different times. Calcium makes it hard for your body to absorb iron.
  • HOW MUCH SHOULD I EAT WHEN I AM BREAST FEEDING? Breast milk is the best food for your baby. It contains things that help make your baby stronger and healthier. It can also help you control your weight after the birth. Breast feeding means you will need more nutrients. You should try to get 500 calories a day more than before pregnancy, drink plenty of water and get as much protein and calcium as when you were pregnant.
  • WHAT IF IT IS TWINS? When you are eating for more than one baby, you need extra protein, vitamins, calcium and iron. You can choose foods that are rich in nutrients, eat small frequent meals and expect to gain more weight (about 5-10 lbs) more than one baby.
  • WEIGHING IN: Being a healthy weight is important for both you and your baby. Right now weight gain is not just extra fat. It is also the weight of your baby and the increased blood and fluid needed to support the baby. During the first 3 months, you may not feel much like eating. That’s OK. when you do feel hungry, choose foods that are high in nutrients. This will help you gain a healthy amount.
  • HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? How much you should gain depends on your weight before you were pregnant. If your weight was normal you may want to gain 25-35 pounds. If you were underweight, 28-40 lbs. If you were overweight, 15-20 lbs is best. Talk you your healthcare provider if you are very overweight.
  • AIM FOR HEALTH: a slow, steady rate of gain is often best. After the first trimester, you may gain about a pound a week, but keep in mind that every woman gains weight differently. Don’t worry to much about pounds, instead, aim for feeling healthy.
  • EATING FOR LIFE: When you eat healthy foods you help give your baby a head start in life. Healthy eating is good for everyone. Now is a great time to help your whole family learn to enjoy foods that are high in nutrients.
  • BEYOND B: BEYOND PASTA: The B vitamins help your body us the food you eat. They also keep your nerves healthy and help make red blood cells. Whole grain foods are some of the best sources of B vitamins. Examples of whole grain are bagels or english muffins, bread, pasta or noodles, tortillas or pita bread and cereals and rice.
  • VITAMIN C: NOT JUST ORANGE JUICE ANYMORE: Vitamin C helps make the tissue that supports your baby’s bones and muscles. When you think of vitamin C, you think of orange juice. You can also get healthy amount of C in many types of fruit and vegetables like bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprout, cabbage and cauliflower. Grapefruit or cantaloupe, kiwi, orange, mango, papayas or strawberries, tangerines or tomatoes.
  • FOLIC ACID: A SAFEGUARD FOR YOUR BABY: Folic acid is one of the B vitamins. Getting enough folic acid in the first weeks of pregnancy reduces the risk of certain birth defects. Good food sources include dark leafy greens and black-eyed peas as well as pinto, kidney and navy beans. You may need even more folic acid, talk to your healthcare provider about taking folic acid pills.
  • IF YOU JUST CAN’T GO: Constipation is common during pregnancy because you digestion slows down so your body can get more nutrients. To help reduce constipation try to get 20 minutes of light exercise a day. Drink plenty of water. Eat foods that are high in fiber such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Avoid eating refined grains such as white bread, rice or pasta. Do not use stool softeners or laxatives without asking your healthcare provider.
  • WHEN YOUR HEARTS ON FIRE: It is likely to be heartburn. Once again, your hormones may be to blame. They relax your muscles so food and acids stay in your stomach longer. Sometimes acids back up into the passage between your stomach and throat. Later in pregnancy, heartburn may be caused by pressure from your growing baby. In either case, here are tips to help: Don’t eat spicy or greasy foods and cut down on citrus fruit, tomatoes, black pepper and any other foods that bother you. Limit caffeine such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate.
  • CRAMPING YOUR STYLE: Here are helpful tips for leg cramps that may be keeping you up at night. Eat more foods that are high in calcium or take calcium pills, drink plenty of fluids, stretch your calf muscles and sleep with your legs raised on a pillow.
  • WHAT IF YOU DON’T GAIN ENOUGH: If you don’t gain enough, your baby might be born too early, be too small or have health problems. Don’t worry too soon. Women tend to gain most of their weight in the second and third trimester. Eat many types of foods. Make sure you get enough calcium, protein and carbohydrates. Don’t skip meals. Eat healthy snacks. See a registered dietitian for help. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have an eating disorder.
  • DON’T DIET: Now is not the time to diet. You might not get enough of the nutrients you and your baby need. Instead, learn how to be a healthy eater.
  • WHY DO THEY CALL IT MORNING SICKNESS: Nausea and vomiting are most common in the morning, but they can last all day. In fact you might turn green just thinking about food. The good news is there is nothing wrong. Your pregnancy hormones are making you queasy. It is also likely you will feel better after the first 12 weeks. It may help to heat foods that are easy on your stomach such as cottage cheese, dry toast, crackers, plain or baked potatoes. Eat small and frequent meals. Smell a cut lemon or lemon juice. Drink water between meals.
  • CRAVINGS? Like many women, you may crave certain foods when you are pregnant. Sometimes these foods are rich in the nutrients your body needs such as the iron in a hamburger or the calcium in milk. But other times you may crave things that are not healthy. If you’re concerned about your cravings, talk to your health care provider.
  • SHOULD I EAT MORE IF I EXERCISE? You will need an extra 100 calories for each 30 minutes of mild exercise. Each of these has about 100 calories; yogurt, milk, bagel with low fat cream cheese, 1/2 turkey sandwich, 1 banana.
  • WHAT SHOULD I AVOID? Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Unpasteurized dairy foods or juices. Organ meats such as liver. Raw or undercooked meats. Some fish.
  • WHAT IF YOUR A VEGETARIAN: If you eat dairy foods and eggs you are likely to get all the protein and other nutrients you need. But if you don’t eat any animal products, talk to your healthcare provider. You may need more of certain nutrients. Good protein choices for vegetarians include; peanut or pumpkin or sunflower seeds, soy milk or soy yogurt. split peas, lentils, dried beans such as pinto and garbanzo beans and tofu.
  • PUMPING IRON: Iron helps make the extra blood you need as well as all the blood your baby needs. Iron is found in may foods, but some of the best sources are lean red meats, dark greens and enriched grains. Your healthcare provider may also suggest taking iron pills or prenatal vitamins.
  • CARBOHYDRATES: VITAMINS AND ENERGY: Fruit, veggies and grains are all carbohydrates ( your body’s main source of energy).Like other healthy foods, they are rich in nutrients and vitamins.
  • VITAMIN A, WHERE DO I GET IT? Vitamin A helps your baby’s cells grow. It also keeps your own skin clear and smooth. It is found in dark yellow, green and red fruit and vegetables such as: Apricots, cantaloup, mango, carrots, bok choy, collards, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes.
  • VITAMIN A, NOT TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING: Both you and your baby need vitamin A to be healthy but when you are pregnant, food sources of this vitamin are best. Do not take vitamin A pills unless instructed by your healthcare provider.
  • WATER: Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Your body will use the water in the liquids to make the extra blood you need and the fluid your baby floats in. Don’t worry, drinking a lot of liquids won’t make you feel bloated, in fact, the more you drink, the less puffy you will feel. Your best choices are: water or seltzer water with a slice of lemon, clear soups that are low in salt, low fat soy milk or soy rice milk with calcium added, fruit juices mixed with water, popsicles or gelatin.
  • DRINKS TO AVOID OR LIMIT: Alcohol, limit coffee and tea to 2 cups a day both regular and decaf and limit soft drinks both regular and diet.
  • IF YOU’RE VERY ACTIVE: If you work out you will need more liquids. Try to drink an extra cup of water for each 30 minutes of walking or swimming and drink more if you bike, jog or do aerobics.
  • FATS AND SUGARS; LIMIT THEM: Fats are energy powerhouses and so are simple sugars such as white and brown, honey and syrups. A little bit of fat and sugar goes a long way. Choose low fat foods and foods without added sugar.
  • FATS FOR FUEL: Fats give you long lasting energy and help your body use certain vitamins. They also help your baby’s brain grow, but fats are high in calories so limits the amount of fats you add to your meals. Better choices of fats are; avocado or olives, nut butters such as peanut butter or tahini. Oils such as olive, canola or corn oil.
  • SUGARS; THE HIGHS AND LOWS: Sugar may taste good and give you a quick lift, but it is high in calories and low in nutrients. Too much added sugar can also affect your moods and energy levels. When you want something sweet, don’t always add sugar or eat candy. Instead try eating a healthy food that is naturally sweet. Have an orange, a few raisins or a ripe banana.
  • ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS: Try not to use artificial sweeteners like saccharin or foods sweetened with them.
  • HIDDEN FAT AND SUGAR CALORIES: Baked goods, candy, dairy desserts, fast foods, processed foods and snack foods.
  • AVERAGE WEIGHT GAIN: Extra blood = 4 pounds. Breast changes = 3 pounds. Amniotic fluid = 2 pounds. Placenta = 1 pound. Uterus = 2 1/2 pounds. Baby weight = 7 1/2 pounds. Body stores (fat and other) = 4-8 pounds. Extra body fluids = 2 1/2 pounds.
  • WHAT IF I GAIN TOO MUCH ? Gaining too much weight might cause you to feel more tired. You could also have a more difficult pregnancy or birth. If you and your healthcare provider feel that you are gaining too much weight too fast you can; limit fats and sugars, drink plenty of water between meals, eat small frequent meals, eat fruits and veggies and whole grains. Increase fiber and exercise.