The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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As if being pregnant isn’t enough of a reason to celebrate, here’s another: You’re expected—and encouraged—to eat! Experts agree you need more calories, more often, as a mom-to-be. While it’s recommended that the average woman take in 2,000 calories each day, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), expectant moms need roughly 340 extra calories a day in the second trimester and 450 extra calories in the third trimester.
What’s more, your developing baby is constantly drawing nutrients from you, so it’s important to eat more than three times a day to keep your energy levels up, says Carolyn M. Zelop, M.D., director of maternal-fetal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Make the most of those extra calories by choosing foods that are high in the essential nutrients you and your baby need, including folate, calcium, protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids, and be sure to keep portion sizes in mind.
“Snacks should be mini-meals but not meal wreckers,” says Elizabeth Ward, R.D., author of Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy (Wiley). “The best snacks combine protein with carbs to keep you fuller longer.” For example, instead of just grabbing a handful of pretzels, go with whole-wheat pretzels and add a glass of milk, says Ward. If you’re expecting twins, help yourself to a second glass. Ward suggests getting an extra 500 calories a day as soon as you know you’re having more than one baby, because most moms-to-be of twins will deliver before 40 weeks.
Take pleasure in those extra bites. Here are eight 350-calorie snacks that are easy to make, packed with pregnancy nutrients and delicious, too.
Orange-Blueberry Lassi In a blender, whip together 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice, 6 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt, 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or ginger) and 3 ice cubes. Pour into a tall glass and serve.
Warm Egg and Spinach Sandwich Measure out 1⁄4 cup of low-fat cottage cheese and spread half over each side of a toasted whole-wheat English muffin. Top 1 muffin slice with 1⁄2 cup baby spinach leaves and 1 thick tomato slice. Top the other with a scrambled egg, ½ ounce prepared pesto, and salt and pepper to taste. Assemble and enjoy.