Boy do your nutritional needs change when you’re expecting! And while you can’t go wrong with a healthy diet of lean meats, fruits and veggies, plenty of women have a hard time finding food that actually appeals to them when a baby’s on the way, opting to eat anything that “sounds” good at the time. Meanwhile, expecting moms can have up to a 30 percent increase in their need for certain vitamins, according to Lee Lautman, M.D. with Group Health in Cincinnati. Enter prenatal vitamins. Pregnant women need iron and calcium to help Baby’s developing bones, as well as folic acid which helps prevent neural tube defects in the brain and spine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that women need 400 micrograms of folic acid every day — pregnant or not — and your best bet for meeting this requirement is to get that prenatal vitamin down!
Gaining weight is part of a healthy pregnancy. A pregnant mom weighing 130 pounds can expect to gain about 25 pounds during pregnancy, according to Lautman, who says that you’ll lose a lot of that in the form of the baby, placenta and other fluids over the course of six to eight weeks post delivery. Lautman points out that overweight women should gain less, while slimmer ones may need to gain a bit more. “About half a pound to a pound a week,” says Lautman, with a goal of six pounds in the first trimester. A 25-pound weight gain translates into a 2,200-calorie diet, as opposed to the 1,800-calorie diet women consume on average.
Of course, your caloric needs also depend on your activity level. Expecting moms who already exercise regularly can continue doing so, as long as they have no medical issues. The goal is to monitor yourself. “If you’re a runner, your center of gravity will be off,” says Lautman. So you may need to scale things back to avoid injury. Lautman encourages women who don’t regularly exercise to start walking, whether inside or out. “We just don’t want the heart to get above 160 beats per minute,” he says, explaining that pregnancy itself already stresses the heart.
Partner With Your Doctor
With uncomplicated pregnancies, Lautman says you’ll see your OB at about eight to 10 weeks for your first appointment, then about once a month, until you reach 28 weeks, at which point you’ll start to make a visit every two weeks. Finally, at 36 weeks, you’ll see your doctor once a week until delivery. These visits are important, even if you’re not experiencing any problems, as issues related to pregnancy can develop at any time. For example, Lautman says some pregnant women may not notice a developing urinary tract infection (UTI), since the sensation of pressure in the bladder is common during pregnancy. Regular appointments with your OB can discover such infections before they become a problem.