The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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2)Use fats, oils and sweets sparingly.
3)Focus on fiber, aiming for 20 to 35 grams a day. Eating two-thirds of a cup of bran cereal, one medium cooked sweet potato and a pear puts you in range for preventing the constipation and hemorrhoids so common in pregnancy.
4)Ask your doctor to suggest a daily prenatal multivitamin that contains the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals, especially folic acid and iron, that you need for a healthful pregnancy. (See “Nurturing Nutrients”)
5)Also consider calcium supplements if you can’t make the calcium quota of at least 1,000 milligrams a day (about three glasses of milk). Some prescribed prenatal supplements won’t supply the calcium you need.
6)Help prevent birth defects by taking only prescribed multivitamins and other supplemental nutrients, such as calcium, that your health care provider recommends. Just because a little is good doesn’t mean more is better. For example, vitamin A in excess of 10,000 international units a day (twice the recommended intake) during pregnancy can cause irreversible damage such as spontaneous abortion and malformations. The safety of herbs and other botanicals during pregnancy and lactation remains to be proven, so steer clear of them.
7)Drink at least 64 ounces of fluid daily (eight 8-ounce glasses), more if you’re active and during hot weather. Fluid helps regulate body temperature, aids in digestion, works with fiber to fight constipation, and cushions joints and organs.
8)Aim for a 25- to 35-pound weight gain, as long as you began pregnancy at a normal weight. After the first trimester, expect to gain between 3/4 and 1 pound per week for the rest of the pregnancy. Twins (and more) require that you gain even more to foster a healthful birth weight. Underweight women may be advised to put on more than 35 pounds; overweight women could be counseled to put on less. Never diet during pregnancy, and always follow the advice of your doctor, certified nurse-midwife or nurse practitioner. Some women choose not to look at the scale during weigh-ins at the doctor’s office to avoid obsessing about pounds gained.
9)Add 300 calories a day to your diet, beginning in the second trimester. Women carrying more than one baby need additional calories, as do physically active moms-to-be.
10)Avoid alcohol. According to the March of Dimes, drinking even small amounts of alcohol can cause physical malformations and developmental difficulties in baby that last a lifetime.