Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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One moment you’re hankering for salty potato chips, and the next you’re tearing into a juicy orange. Rare steak has replaced your prepregnancy vegetarian suppers, and your in-laws now stock your favorite brand of chocolate chip ice cream. What explains a pregnant woman’s cravings?
Experiencing a food craving during pregnancy often indicates that a woman is deficient in an essential nutrient. The classic "pickles and ice cream" craving is likely the result of a need for additional calcium, and perhaps a secondary need to satisfy the salty and sour taste buds. The nutrient most women lack is iron, and your craving for spinach--an iron-rich vegetable--certainly fits the bill. The cream in creamed spinach also may be soothing to a queasy stomach. As long as your craving is not an unhealthy one, pretty much any food is OK in moderation.
Experiencing a food craving during pregnancy often indicates that a woman is deficient in an essential nutrient. For instance, the classic "pickles and ice cream" craving is likely the result of a need for calcium, and perhaps also emerges to satisfy pregnancy-induced sweet and sour cravings. The nutrient most women lack is iron, and spinach is an iron-rich vegetable. Plus, the cream may soothe a queasy stomach. Rest assured that as long as your craving is not an unhealthy one, nearly any food is OK in moderation. But do be sure to take a daily prenatal vitamin as well.
Eating well during pregnancy needn't mean giving up your favorite candy. A Yale study found that expectant moms who ate chocolate five or more times a week had a lower risk for preeclampsia than those who ate it less than once a week. Dark chocolate, in particular, contains a substance thought to have cardiovascular benefits that help prevent preeclampsia.
You may think the healthy pregnancy to-do list is like a potato-chip craving: never-ending. But it's not. Aside from eating well and exercising—two topics that are so important we've covered them elsewhere in this issue—there are only about five things you really need to do to increase your chance of having an enjoyable pregnancy and a healthy baby.
I knew exactly how I was going to look and feel when I was expecting. My pregnant profile would be buff-with-a-bump, outfitted in snug tops and hip-hugging jeans that would accentuate my belly. And while I'd had friends who gained (gasp!) 30-plus pounds during their pregnancies, I wasn't going to put on an ounce more than the advised 25.
We all know that junk food is bad for us. But, we're only just beginning to understand how bad it is for the babies we carry.
A new research study may just make it harder for you to justify giving in to your junk food cravings.
Q: Your life is so busy. How are you feeling now that you're pregnant?
A: At the end of the day I am so tired I can't function or speak and my eyes glaze over; but this pregnancy has seriously mellowed me out, which is nice. I've been going, going, going for so long, it feels nice not to take things so seriously.
Getting pregnant makes some women susceptible to bingeing, even when they had no previous history of eating disorders. In a study of moms-to-be ages 25 to 34, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers noted a significant jump in new cases of binge eating. Don't confuse bingeing with simply craving a specific food. Like bulimics, binge eaters consume a large amount of food in a short time and feel out of control while they do it. But unlike bulimics, they do not compensate for their bingeing by purging, fasting, exercising or abusing laxatives.
At 38, Gabby Reece leads an exceedingly full life as a pro volleyball player, entrepreneur, former host of Fit TV/Discovery's "Insider Training," Yahoo health writer, hands-on mom to daughter Reece, 4, and wife to big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton. The 6'3" former model spoke with us from Maui as she and her family awaited the late-December arrival of baby number two.
Expecting her first child this winter, Courtney Thorne-Smith, now 40, is also promoting her first book, Outside In (Random House). The novel is about an actress on a prime-time drama who is wronged by her sleazy husband and her co-star. Thorne-Smith's own husband, Roger Fishman, has a digital media company, The Zizo Group; they married Jan. 1, 2007. Currently starring in ABC's According to Jim, she previously appeared on (the prime-time drama) Melrose Place and on Ally McBeal.
Craving a certain food during pregnancy—an iron-rich, juicy burger, say—means your body needs the particular nutrients it contains, right? Not necessarily. "There's really not a lot of scientific backup for such statements," says Linda R. Chambliss, M.D., medical director of labor and delivery at St. Mary's Hospital in St. Louis. "A lot of women are iron-depleted during pregnancy, but it's hard to show a cause-and-effect relationship between a craving and the lack of a specific nutrient."
The more nutritious your prenatal diet is, the better off you and your baby will be. So those extra 300 daily calories (yup, only 300, and only in your second and third trimesters!) should be carefully chosen. And here's a thought: Keep up the good eating once your baby is born. Because before you know it, your little one will be reaching for what's on your plate. If any of the bad habits described here sound familiar, now's the time to lose them for good.