How much should I eat?
How much you eat during pregnancy depends on things like your weight before pregnancy, your age, if you're having more than one baby, and how fast you gain weight. Many women do not need extra calories in the first three months of pregnancy or the final weeks. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you should eat more or less calories based off of your weight.
What should I eat?
It is important to remember that you are feeding a growing child. You should eat food with a high nutritional value and avoid foods with 'empty calories'. The following is recommended:
- fruits and veggies (provide vitamins and fiber)
- whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice (provide fiber, B vitamins, and other needed nutrients)
- fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or non-dairy soy, almond, rice, or other drinks with added calcium and vitamin D
- protein from healthy sources, like beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood (8 to 12 ounces per week), and unsalted nuts and seeds
- Limited salts, solid fats (butter, lard, shortening), and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods.
You may want to create a meal planto make sure you are on track, and to make it easy to share with your doctor what you are eating.
If you are vegetarian, you should talk with your doctor to make sure you are getting enough calcium, iron, protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and other needed nutrients. You may have to meet with a registered dietician or take supplements.
Because you are pregnant, your body needs more vitamins to help your baby grow. Many women take a prenatal vitamin to satisfy these needs. talk to your doctor about which vitamin is right for you.
Foods to avoid:
- Alcohol. Do not drink alcohol like wine or beer. Enjoy decaf coffee or tea, non-sugar-sweetened drinks, or water with a dash of juice. Avoid diet drinks and drinks with caffeine.
- Fish that may have high levels of mercury (a substance that can build up in fish and harm an unborn baby). You should eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week, but limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week. Do not eat tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
- Anything that is not food. Some pregnant women may crave something that is not food, such as laundry starch or clay. This may mean that you are not getting the right amount of a nutrient. Talk to your doctor if you crave something that is not food. He or she can help you get the right amount of nutrients
Regular physical activity can help you manage you and your baby's weights, reduce backaches, leg cramps, and bloating, and reduce your risk for gestational diabetes. If you exercised regularly before pregnancy, you may not need to change your routine, but should consult with your doctor.
Most women need the same amount of activity as they did before they were pregnant- 30 minutes of aerobic activity that targets major muscle groups most days per week.
If you have a preexisting health issue which can limit your physical activity, consult with your doctor.
Being active can be fun. If you already have children, you can make it a family activity. Try to find things that you enjoy doing. Simple activities such as the following can help you be active:
- Going for a walk around the block, in a shopping mall, or in a local park, for example.
- Doing chores.
- Walking around during commercial breaks.
In order to keep you and your baby safe, there are some exercises you should stay away from. Keep a log of when you exercise and what you did so that you can show your doctor if need be.
For more information: NIH, MedlinePlus, Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and USDA.