How to eat when you're pregnant
Pregnancy eating is not the same as eating when it’s just you. However, don’t fall for the common misconception that you’re “eating for two.” A lot of women get carried away when they think of their developing little one, and they’ll be tempted to start shoveling in the extra food. What she forgets is that the second person is very little and doesn’t require nearly as much food as the worried mother thinks.
How much, and what kinds of food should you be eating? For starters, if you haven’t started taking a prenatal supplement, now is a good time to start. Doctors suggest you start taking prenatal vitamins several months before you plan on getting pregnant, throughout your pregnancy and for several months afterwards, especially if you’re breastfeeding. The most important thing to look for in a prenatal vitamin is Folic Acid. This essential nutrient is vital during the first trimester to prevent neural tube defects. You might also want to choose one with iron in it as anemia is a common problem in pregnant women.
Calorie counting through the trimesters
Even though you’ll likely find out somewhere around the fifth week of pregnancy that you have a new little one on board, you don’t have to start eating extra portions until your second trimester. Your tiny womb dweller is so minuscule in the first few weeks that the little nutrition it needs will come out of what you consume without any detriment to you.
In the second trimester, you should begin consuming 300 extra calories a day (which equals about 3 glasses of low fat milk), and in the third trimester you can increase to 450 calories (add a handful of nuts or a half of a peanut butter sandwich to your 3 extra glasses of milk). Be sure, whatever you do, that you’re spending your calories on healthy foods, rather than empty foods like cookies or candy. Not only will this help keep your baby healthy, it will also make it easier for you to lose weight after your baby is born.
Prevent acid reflux
I remember one of the most disconcerting symptoms I developed around my 21st week was a daily dose of heartburn. I’d rarely had it before being pregnant, but suddenly if I inclined my head a little after eating or drinking I’d feel the itchy, burning sensation of food creeping back up my throat. To prevent this from happening, don’t lie down immediately after eating. Give your food some time to settle.
You could also try eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Acid reflux is more likely to happen when you overeat, or consume an overabundance of spicy foods. Eating several small meals will also help you cope with morning sickness and the shrinking size of your stomach in later months when you’re perpetually hungry but your stomach has no room to expand.
It will be scary, especially if you’ve spent your whole life watching your weight, to see the numbers on the scale inch upward. Just remind yourself that it’s not fat, it’s a baby that's growing. The sacrifices, the weight, and the stretch marks will all be worth it in the end. Think of it as a badge of honor as you fulfill the world’s most noble calling: motherhood.
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