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Pregnancy Nutrition: Third Trimester Pointers

Your swelling belly won't find this hard to believe, but your baby will more than triple in size these last few months. So nutritionally, this final stretch is as important as ever.

Here are some tips to get you to the finish line:

Switch to mini-meals.

You may gain between 10 and 18 lbs this trimester, or 1 lb per week. As you and the baby get bigger, you may not feel like eating three regular meals. So, switch to five or six lighter meals or snacks spread throughout the day. Be sure to make them nutritious ones the baby can use.

Eat your nutrients: Calcium, Protein, Vitamin B6 and Omega-3s.

Your baby's growing bones need more calcium, and his growing muscles and tissues need protein. You'll also need more vitamin B6 in your diet to help you metabolize that extra protein. For his rapid brain development, your baby needs omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.

Eating a nutrient-rich diet can also help your body recover and repair itself after you give birth. So, fill your plate (even a small one) with things like lean meat, legumes, soybeans, fish and broccoli, as well as other healthy foods.

Water. Water. (Still.)

It may feel like you're spending your life in your restroom these days. Small wonder. You've got a small wonder pressing on your bladder. But that doesn't make proper hydration any less important. In fact, it can even help reduce or prevent constipation. So keep on downing those 10 cups of beverages a day.

Don't stop the exercise during pregnancy.

Even a little exercise during pregnancy can help you stay fit for birth and beyond. So don't give up now, even if getting physical is the last thing you want to be doing. Do what you can, and what your doctor says is okay.


Pregnancy Nutrition: First Trimester Pointers

As you go through your pregnancy, you've got a dining partner who says “I'll have what she's having” every time you take a bite. So it's more important than ever to think before you eat.

Here are a few tips to help you get started with your nutrition during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Make your diet healthy during pregnancy.

Doctors recommend that the average woman gain between 2 and 5 lbs during this first trimester diet, so most women don't need to add extra calories at this point. Try to get the most out of what you put in your mouth, with foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats or meat alternatives, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. And go easy on the fatty foods.

Eat your nutrients.

You'll want to get proper levels of everything from vitamin A to zinc, for your sake and your baby's. The Food Pyramid can help you learn what you need and how to balance your diet every day. Also, ask your doctor about a prenatal vitamin supplement.

Get your folic acid during the first trimester.

Folic acid is so important for a healthy baby that doctors recommend taking a supplement with at least 400 mcg per day before you even conceive. That's because it can help protect against birth defects. It also promotes healthy cell division, and nourishes your baby's developing nervous system. So be sure you're getting your share.

Watch your vitamin A intake during pregnancy.

You need some, but too much can be toxic. The Institute of Medicine recommends you get no more than 3000 mcg per day.

Include snacks in your first trimester diet.

If you're napping a lot or queasy from morning sickness, you may not feel like eating normal-sized meals. But mini-meals and snacks may fit the bill. Try to keep something in your stomach, like crackers or frozen fruit pops. And don't forget to stay hydrated by sipping water between meals.

Avoid unhealthy habits during pregnancy.

Alcohol and cigarettes can seriously compromise a healthy pregnancy.


Twin Pregnancy Nutrition

Experts recommend that the calorie requirements in pregnancy with just one baby should be around 2500 calories daily, beginning in the second trimester. But a party of three, or more? You may need to be eating 3000 or more calories per day as soon as you're aware that you're pregnant with twins.

Here are some healthy ways to increase your calories:

  • Balance your diet with the food pyramid
  • Eat a variety of foods within the food groups
  • Set up a schedule for meals and snacks
  • Be sure to get enough dairy every day, like milk, yogurt or cheese
  • Add more fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads to your menus
  • Carry snacks like dried fruits, nuts, and whole grain crackers in your purse
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat frequent mini meals or snacks
  • Ask your doctor about prenatal vitamins and DHA supplements

Foods to Avoid While Pregnant and Foods to Eat

Learn what foods to avoid while pregnant and nursing, and which foods you should add to your diet.

Foods to Avoid for Healthy Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

These foods contain, or may contain, harmful substances that can be dangerous to your baby’s health:

Chemicals:

  • Alcohol, including hard liquor, wine and beer
  • Shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish - According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these fish contain levels of mercury that may harm your unborn baby.

Possible bacteria:

  • Raw eggs
  • Raw fish and shellfish
  • Raw meat
  • Hot dogs, lunch meats and cold deli meats
  • Unpasteurized fruit juice and cider
  • Unpasteurized milk and milk products
  • Unpasteurized soft cheeses like feta, Brie and Roquefort
  • Untreated drinking water
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables

Ask your doctor for more information about how to diet during pregnancy and foods to avoid while nursing. And visit the FDA website to find out more.

Foods to Limit While Pregnant or Nursing

  • Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, colas and tea
  • Like all adult Americans, you should limit the quantity of “extras” in your diet like added sugars and fats or foods high in sugar and fats. Examples of foods high in sugars and fats are desserts, candy, soft drinks and other sweetened beverages, fried foods, fatty meats, whole milk, and cheese.

Foods to Enjoy While Pregnant or Nursing

These foods are rich in important nutrients you and your baby need during pregnancy and beyond:

  • Milk, hard cheese, yogurt
  • Vegetables, especially dark green or leafy greens, and raw colorful ones
  • Avocados
  • Fruits
  • Fruit juices
  • Potatoes, brown rice, pasta
  • Legumes
  • Soybeans
  • Whole grains, wheat germ
  • Fortified cereals
  • Lean meat
  • Liver, kidneys
  • Salmon with bones, mackerel, sardines, herring
  • Hummus
  • Peanut butter
  • Cooked eggs
  • Nuts and seeds

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