A healthy pregnancy is indisputably the most exciting time in a woman’s life. And just as with any exciting event, there’s also the thrill of uncertainty. However, there’s no need to worry or lose sleep over it, because you’ll find each one of your pregnancy questions answered right here.
You may be trying to get pregnant, or you may have already got the good news that you are pregnant, and you can do with all the pregnancy information you can get. Our healthy pregnancy guide is packed with all the pregnancy advice you will ever need.
As the due date approaches, you will want to take pregnancy pictures of yourself to treasure these unique moments in your life. The great thing about pregnancy is that it does not matter whether it is the first or the third child; each one is equally wondrous and the mother is just as concerned about having a healthy pregnancy with each child.
It is during those nine months that you experience the maximum changes in your body – both internal and external – some obvious, some subtle. Get ready to handle all these natural changes that go with a pregnancy body. Understanding these changes can enhance these months in your life, making them pleasantly unforgettable in every way.
A pregnancy journal makes the whole experience that much more real for a pregnant woman. She wants to do everything she can to ensure that those three trimesters go as smoothly as possible. Record those vital moments you cherish during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy journals are also readily available, conveniently containing month-wise sections with questions that you can answer about this remarkable time in your life. You can even note down your pregnancy doctor visits, and the changes that you feel in your body and make it more interesting by including pregnancy photos of yourself in appropriate places. Just imagine looking at it a few years later!
Learn how you can get a good night’s sleep, how to eat a healthy pregnancy diet, how to keep fit, and get the answers to all those countless pregnancy questions.
Go ahead. Make those nine months a time to cherish forever!
6 Questions All Women Ask About Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be an apprehensive time for any mother, especially if this is her first baby. There will be legions of people who will give you advice, whether you want it or not. Of course, the best person to answer your questions is your health care provider, but here are the answers to some of the more common questions you’ll undoubtedly ask.
1. Will it hurt to give birth?
In a word, yes. How painful it will vary greatly from one woman to another. However, there are a few decisions that you can make, including your delivery method, that can impact this greatly.
The good news is: that the better prepared you are, the easier it is going to be to deal with the pain. Also, if you want an idea of how your pregnancy and delivery may go, talk to your closest female relatives and ask them about their birthing experience, chances are that you’ll have a similar one. And above all, remember this, the pain of childbirth is manageable.
You will have several options when it comes to pain management and it is important you discuss them with your physician to find out which is best for you. You can be without any anesthesia at all (tough it out!) or have different levels of anesthesia (for example, from your mid-chest down). Also, if this is not your first pregnancy, each delivery is usually easier than the one before!
2. How will I know my baby is healthy?
This is where your choice of a health care provider comes into play. Not only do they have access to all those wonderful diagnostic tools, but you’ll also have access to the best tool of all. their professional judgment. You can ask them about any of the symptoms you may be experiencing and they can reassure you it is part of normal pregnancy or figure out the cause.
You can also ask them about which medications to take. And lastly, do not forget your judgment is your last and best asset. Women have been having babies for thousands of years and both have gotten through pregnancy and delivery just fine!
3. How much weight will I and should I gain?
Unfortunately, it is not one-size-fits-all. There is not a magic number that you should expect. There are many variables including your pre-pregnancy weight, your health, the health of your baby, and whether or not you have twins. However, there is a good rule of thumb for how much weight you should gain based on your weight:
Also, it is important that you not try to shed weight and hit the gym as soon as you get home from the hospital! To have a healthy baby, you need to keep your calorie count up high in order to breastfeed. Also, a special weight-loss hint you probably did not know about! Adequate breastfeeding makes your uterus shrink down faster (and lose that extra weight!) and is also nature’s form of birth control! A win-win!
4. Do I need to change my diet during pregnancy?
The answer is yes. There are certain foods and drinks that you should avoid during your pregnancy. Many women like to wake up and have a cup of coffee with breakfast or a cup of tea in the afternoon – as far as caffeine goes, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid consuming more than 200 milligrams of caffeine (equal to a 12-ounce cup of coffee).
As far as which foods to avoid, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid all uncooked seafood (sushi, shellfish), undercooked meats and poultry, and unpasteurized dairy products (brie, feta, blue cheese, and Mexican-style cheeses). As far as which seafood is considered okay…the FDA and EPA say pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces a week (or two average-sized portions) of salmon, catfish, cod, and canned light tuna.
5. Will using a seat belt hurt me or the baby?
If worn properly, a seat belt will not only not hurt but will be one of the best protections the two of you can have in the case of an automobile accident. When you’re pregnant, it’s especially essential to wear your seat belt low across your hip bones and under your baby bump. As your tummy gets larger, you may need a seat belt extender to be comfortable. And always see your health care provider after any automobile accident, even just a minor fender bender.
6. Is it safe to have sex while I am pregnant?
This is a question that a lot of pregnant women want to be answered but may feel uncomfortable asking their physician or friends/family. That is why we are here to answer the question for you…and the answer may surprise you. YES, you can. Sex will not harm your baby. Early miscarriages are due to problems with the baby’s DNA (and NOTHING you did!).
Also, your baby has very special protection called the amniotic sac that is inside your uterus – sexual activity will not affect it. There is a caveat, however. During your first trimester, your hormones will be fluctuating and it may actually decrease your desire. You may also have less desire during the third trimester as you may be experiencing back pain or other symptoms associated with your weight gain.
A Week By Week Guide To Pregnancy
In general, your pregnancy will last an average of 40 weeks. First-time mothers usually deliver around 41 weeks, while mothers who are carrying multiples generally deliver before 40 weeks. Here’s what you can expect during each:
Weeks 1-2: When using the gestational age method, week one begins when your period begins. Around day 14, you will ovulate.
Weeks 3-4: Conception takes place as the egg is fertilized – usually in the fallopian tubes – and travels to the uterus, where it implants into the uterine lining. You may experience some implantation bleeding or some mild cramping during this time, although your early pregnancy symptoms will be hard to distinguish from premenstrual symptoms, such as fatigue, mood swings and breast tenderness.
Week 5: The fertilized egg is now an embryo and the major systems are starting to develop. The first systems to develop are the heart and circulatory system.
Week 6: Your baby’s heart begins to beat, while most other organs are starting to be formed. Arm and leg buds form and the umbilical cord develops. You can also see where the baby’s eyes and ears will be. If you haven’t had morning sickness before, this is usually when it hits.
Week 7: The arms and legs are continuing to develop, as are the brain, eyes, intestines, and other organs. The intestines will initially bulge into the umbilical cord during this week.
Week 8: Tooth buds begin to form in the baby’s gums, and you can see the beginnings of fingers and toes. On an ultrasound, you can see the baby’s heart beating. You may have started to notice a difference around your waistline at this time, as your uterus is now about the size of an orange.
Week 9: Now there’s room for the growing intestines to move out of the umbilical cord and into the baby’s abdomen. The baby’s bones and cartilage also begin to form. You may experience some heartburn and indigestion at this stage and it may be time for new bras with larger cups.
Week 10: The baby begins to move around, although these movements can’t yet be felt. Fingers and toes are developed, and joints at the shoulder elbow, wrist, knee, and ankle are formed.
Week 11: This week, your embryo officially becomes a fetus. You may not even look pregnant yet, but the most critical stages of development are already complete. During this week, your baby will double in length, from one inch to two inches. During weeks 11 and 12, the placenta will begin to function and blood will begin to circulate through the umbilical cord. In most women, this coincides with a decrease or the end of morning sickness. From the size of a pear, your uterus has grown to the size of a grapefruit and you may begin to experience round ligament pain.
Week 12: Nearly all organs are finished forming. Nails and hair begin to grow and genitals differentiate. The kidneys begin to function and amniotic fluid begins to accumulate. As your uterus grows, it will shift forward of your bladder, so the urinary frequency will lessen.
Week 13: Here, the first trimester ends and the baby begins to look more like a miniature person. You may still feel tired, but most early pregnancy symptoms will begin to disappear now.
Week 14: The baby is about 3 and one-half inches long and weighs about 2 ounces. Your baby is being fully nourished by the placenta now. Usually, the baby’s heartbeat can be detected via Doppler at this stage, and the baby begins to “breathe” in amniotic fluid. The baby’s hands can move and you may be noticing some constipation and more prominent veins in your breasts.
Week 15: The baby is now covered in soft, downy hair called lanugo, which will protect her skin until later in pregnancy. At this point, your uterus has grown enough that you can probably feel it just below your navel, and you may have begun to show.
Week 16: You may begin to feel the baby move at this point. Some women tend to experience nasal congestion or nose bleeds, and round ligament pain may continue.
Week 17: Your baby is growing rapidly and can now swallow, blink and suck her fingers. By this time, you’ve probably gained between 5 and 10 pounds of pregnancy weight.
Week 18: The baby weighs about 8 ounces now, and you may be able to see your tummy move from the outside when the baby moves or has hiccups. Gender can sometimes be determined via ultrasound at this stage.
Week 19: Vernix, which protects the baby’s skin, forms. You may also notice skin changes of your own, including dryness or pigment changes.
Week 20: You’re at the halfway point. The baby’s sleep and waking schedule are much like that of a newborn. Your uterus may press on your belly button, causing it to become an “outie,” and you may develop a linea nigra.
Week 21: The baby continues to grow, though not as rapidly. You’re probably beginning to show if you haven’t been already, and you may be experiencing some swelling in your feet and ankles. You’ve probably now gained about 10 to 15 pounds.
Week 22: Your baby’s brain continues to grow rapidly at this stage, and the baby now weighs about one pound. You may begin to experience some back pain around this time.
Week 23: Bones develop in baby’s middle ear. This is a good time to learn about childbirth classes and enroll in the ones that interest you.
Week 24: The baby begins to fill out. Your doctor may schedule you for an ultrasound or glucose tolerance test at this point.
Week 25: The baby’s spine and pulmonary circulatory system begin to form. Your uterus is now about the size of a soccer ball – and you can definitely tell!
Week 26: Your baby now weighs about 2 pounds. Air sacs in the lungs are forming and brain wave activity begins. You may also begin to experience Braxton Hicks’s contractions around now.
Week 27: The baby’s brain continues growing rapidly and the retinas begin to form. You may begin to experience difficulty breathing, as your uterus is now pressing against your diaphragm.
Week 28: The third trimester begins. The baby now weighs about 2 pounds and can recognize your voice. At this point, you’ve probably gained between 17 and 24 pounds. During the final trimester, you may experience leg cramps, itchy skin, hemorrhoids, and increased swelling in your feet and legs. You’ll probably also begin seeing your health care provider every other week, instead of monthly.
Week 29: The primitive breathing functions are now controlled by the baby’s brain. The baby is becoming sensitive to sound and light and can taste the amniotic fluid. This is a good time to start working on your birth plan.
Week 30: Your baby now weighs about 3 pounds. The lanugo begins to disappear and you may be having trouble finding comfortable positions for sleeping.
Week 31: Your baby’s brain is continuing to develop. All of the major organs – except the lungs – are fully developed.
Week 32: Your baby now weighs 4 pounds. You may be experiencing increasing heartburn and constipation, along with other pregnancy discomforts at this point.
Week 33: The amount of amniotic fluid you have now will remain fairly constant until delivery. Brain growth means the baby’s head is about an inch larger, and you’ll gain about a pound a week for the rest of your pregnancy.
Week 34: The baby’s eyes are now open when awake and closed when sleeping. Your baby begins to develop some immunity, and Braxton Hicks contractions become more frequent.
Week 35: Your baby weighs about 5 and one-half pounds and takes up most of the space in your uterus. Your cervix may begin to efface or dilate in preparation for the upcoming delivery.
Week 36: The baby may move into the birthing position and drop into the birth canal. You’ll begin seeing your health care provider weekly at this point and should be aware of signs of premature labor.
Week 37: Your baby weighs about 6 and one-half pounds now and will continue to gain about one-half pounds per week. You may notice increased vaginal discharge and you may begin to breathe easier as the baby drops into the birth canal. Bu this point, you should be preregistered at the hospital and have your delivery bags packed and waiting for you.
Week 38: The baby continues to gain weight and Braxton Hicks contractions occur more frequently.
Week 39: The baby probably weighs over 7 pounds by this point. Surfactant is preparing the lungs for breathing after birth and you’re probably urinating frequently as your uterus presses on your bladder.
Week 40: Congratulations, you’re at term! Your baby could come at any time now – some health care providers schedule even inductions at this point.
Week 41: Most first-time mothers deliver this week. If you haven’t yet delivered, your health care provider may schedule tests to make sure everything is alright with your baby.
Week 42-45: If your pregnancy goes this long, your health care provider will likely schedule tests to make sure your baby is fine and may schedule an induction or Caesarean section delivery.
Interesting Facts About Pregnancy
For a woman, pregnancy is both an exciting and a scary moment of her life. Let’s have a look at some of the interesting facts about this phase of a woman’s life.
Speaking in medical terms, the definition of pregnancy is the carrying of one or more offspring, known as a fetus or embryo, inside the womb of a female. In a pregnancy, there can be multiple gestations, as in the case of twins or triplets. Childbirth usually occurs about 38 weeks after conception; in women who have a menstrual cycle length of four weeks, this is approximately 40 weeks from the last normal menstrual period (this is why the doctor always asks you about your last period!) The World Health Organization defines the normal term for delivery as between 37 weeks and 42 weeks.
What Are Trimester Periods?
In order to understand this period better and in a simpler manner, it is divided into three trimesters. In the first trimester, there is a maximum risk of miscarriage, which is the natural death of the embryo. In the second trimester, it is possible to monitor the development of the fetus accurately. In the third trimester, the fetus learns to survive and prepares itself for the outside world.
How Does A Woman Get pregnant?
In order to get pregnant, the female egg (oocyte) has to unite with the male sperm, in a process that is called fertilization. This union occurs as a result of sexual intercourse. When a man ejaculates, sperm is released and will travel up through the uterus to try to find the female egg. After this, the fertilized egg will implant itself into the lining of the uterus.
This process will result in the newly developing embryo releasing a very special hormone – called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). This is a very important hormone – because it will cause your ovaries to release a different hormone – called progesterone – which will be critically responsible for maintaining your pregnancy. Human chorionic gonadotrophin should also be very important to you for another reason – this is the hormone in your urine that the home pregnancy test and physician will check to confirm that you are pregnant!
What Is A Due Date?
It is the date when a pregnant woman is expected to deliver her baby. As per the Merck Medical Manual, the human pregnancy lasts for 266 days, i.e, 38 weeks. However, if we count from the first day of the last menstrual cycle (which is why the doctor asks you about the first day of your last period), it amounts to 40 weeks. However, these are average calculations and the actual length of your pregnancy will depend on many factors. It will depend on the health of the mother, the health of the baby, and whether or not you are having twins (shorter length of pregnancy).
What Is A Premature Baby?
If a baby is born before 37 weeks, it will be regarded as a premature baby. Do not be scared though, if your doctor tells you that your baby may be premature. Every day hundreds of premature babies are born and they do just fine! On the other hand, if your baby wants to stay inside a little too long to come out, it is considered a post-term baby. Your baby will be post-term if it is born after 42 weeks.
There are innumerable changes that take place in a woman’s body during pregnancy. It also affects her emotional side. It is better to keep in constant touch with your doctor to know what’s happening inside your body, as you prepare to bring a new life into this world!
Refer Books or Websites for 40 Weeks of Pregnancy Information
The pregnancy period can be made much more enjoyable if you equip yourself with 40 weeks of pregnancy information. Expectant mothers or those who plan to get pregnant soon need not worry about finding comprehensive pregnancy information. There are some great online stores that sell various books pertaining to pregnancy divulging the information in an easy-to-read and understand manner. You may also find that there are several pregnancy websites that offer detailed and accurate information about the 40 weeks of pregnancy.
Why People Refer Books and Pregnancy Websites
People who need 40 weeks of pregnancy information usually refer to books or websites, as the information they access will help them understand pregnancy better. Many issues are dealt with in the sites and the books such as the complications of pregnancy, the importance of diet, planning a pregnancy, and other relevant matters. This will help them learn about the changes that take place in the body and will help them pay more attention to folic acid consumption as they realize it can help prevent birth defects to a certain extent.
Many expectant mothers have been gifted a pregnancy record book that can help them record and maintain a log of their daily experiences during pregnancy and childbirth. This along with pregnancy photographs can help a mother remember forever those amazing days. It can also be wonderful to present the journal to your child when he/she is of age and can understand how much they are loved starting from the day you found you were pregnant.
Pregnancy cookbooks are also available that outline weekly diets during the various stages of pregnancy ensuring that the expectant mother gets regular and nutritious meals. The meals can be enjoyed by the whole family so making it worthwhile to look up pregnancy cookbook and utilize it. The books can also have secrets to healthy 40 weeks of pregnancy information regarding the foods to be avoided and the foods to be included.
There are some women who mistrust technology and who may appreciate natural pregnancy books that can help them learn safety procedures and therapies that can lead to natural birth. Such books can provide guidance regarding natural herbs, herbal remedies for nausea, morning sickness, stretch marks, etc.
These books can also be helpful to those who are planning pregnancy as they can guide them to have safe, healthy pregnancies. Women will learn to quit smoking, drugs, and alcohol as they will learn about the adverse effect on the health of the baby. They will learn about the dangers of eating raw uncooked food and how important a nutritious and well-planned diet is during pregnancy. They will learn about 40 weeks of pregnancy information such as not to neglect to spot bleeding however minimal it might be.
Pregnancy books are, therefore, great gifts to give to a couple who are planning a pregnancy or to a loved one who just found out she was pregnant. They will learn about other important 40 weeks of pregnancy information such as the importance of wearing comfortable clothes, and that comfy clothes need not be expensive when you shop online or during sales.
Don’t Want To Ask Your Doctor? Get Pregnancy Books!
When you’re pregnant, you’ll definitely have lots of questions – especially if this is your first pregnancy. Of course, you should have a health care provider that you feel comfortable sharing your questions and concerns with. But there may come a time when you have questions you don’t want to ask your doctor for a variety of different reasons. You may feel uncomfortable discussing certain bodily functions or you may not want to trouble your doctor with what you believe to be a small, unimportant question. In these situations, a good pregnancy book can give you the answers you want and need.
If you just go into a bookstore, however, you’re likely to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of books you have to choose from. The following are some of our favorites, all of which are written by knowledgeable, well-respected authors in the pregnancy field.
Our first recommendation is The Pregnancy Book: Month-by-Month, Everything You Need to Know From America’s Baby Experts by Martha and William Sears. Dr. William Sears is a pediatrician and his wife, Martha, is an RN and lactation consultant with labor and delivery experience. Between the two of them, they have raised eight children, two of whom are now practicing pediatricians as well. The Sears’ books are written from the perspective of trusted friends who just happen to be medical professionals. Their other books come highly recommended as well.
Another excellent pregnancy book is Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, and Ann Keppler. The book covers your pregnancy from conception to those first few postpartum weeks – and just about everything in between. Penny Simkin is another author whose complete works we recommend wholeheartedly.
Next up is The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, written by Sheila Kitzinger. If you’re looking to prepare for pregnancy and childbirth or to understand the “hows and whys” of the way pregnancy and childbirth are managed, then this book is a good choice for you. This is also a good book for understanding the many emotional changes a woman experiences during pregnancy.
Managing Morning Sickness: A Survival Guide for Pregnant Women by Miriam Erick MS RD is considered one of the definitive books on handling morning sickness. If you’re experiencing morning sickness, this book can help you choose the right kinds of foods and learn how to deal with this very common pregnancy side effect.
And while you may be a long way from thinking about delivery, we strongly recommend you read the book Husband-Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth by Dr. Robert A. Bradley early in your pregnancy.
This book contains tons of valuable information on diet and exercises that can help you stay healthy and at low risk throughout your pregnancy, regardless of whether or not you plan un-medicated childbirth. In addition, the diet recommended in this book (the Brewer diet) is the only pregnancy diet with medical research backing up its claims of preventing certain pregnancy complications.
Should You Get Vaccines While Pregnant?
Vaccines are a controversial issue among parents – even parents-to-be. Some parents believe vaccines are essential to protect all children from disease, while other parents believe that vaccines can cause more harm than good. Wherever you fall on the issues of vaccination for your child or children, you also have to decide whether or not you should get any vaccines while you’re pregnant.
If you aren’t yet pregnant, do your research and talk with your health care provider before you become pregnant. If you’re missing any vaccinations and want to take them, it’s best to get them before you become pregnant. Allow about one month after the vaccinations before you begin trying to conceive. If you aren’t missing any regular vaccinations, you may still want to talk to your doctor about new vaccinations that have become available, such as the Gardasil vaccine, or vaccines that are new every year, such as the yearly vaccine against the flu.
The question about whether not a vaccine is safe to take during pregnancy is essentially based on what kind of vaccine is being given. Vaccines can be made from live but weakened viruses, killed viruses or from bacterial toxins. The goal with any of these is to expose your immune system to an infective agent so that it can make the appropriate defensive antibodies without you having to actually have the diseases.
Vaccines that use live viruses include the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine) and the chicken pox vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that pregnant women not take these vaccines because of the risk of contracting the disease from the live virus. In addition, both chicken pox and rubella can cause harm to an unborn baby. If you haven’t had these diseases before becoming pregnant, you should do all you can to avoid contracting them while pregnant.
This means avoiding persons who may have these diseases, as well as avoiding persons who have just been vaccinated for these diseases. If you are planning on getting pregnant soon, it is important to go ahead and make an appointment with your doctor to get your vaccine at your earliest convenience. If you are already pregnant and did not get the vaccine, it is still important that your partner and other caregivers get the vaccine. This is because they can still get sick and pass it on to you and your baby.
At present, the flu or influenza vaccine is made from killed viruses. These vaccines are safe to take during pregnancy should you so desire. As a point of interest, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that women who are pregnant during flu season take the flu vaccine because pregnancy increases the likelihood that if they contract the flu, they’ll develop complications.
Finally, vaccination against tetanus, Diptheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), is usually given as a single injection called the DTaP. The pertussis part of the vaccine shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy as there is limited information regarding its safety. However, tetanus and Diptheria components are safe to take as a separate booster shot. If you need a tetanus booster shot during pregnancy, don’t worry – it’s generally considered safe as well. If you do have any concerns about your vaccinations, it’s best to address these before you begin trying to conceive.
Common Skin Changes and Rashes During Your Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, the changes that your body undergoes affect every part of your body, including your skin. Common skin changes include melasma, striae gravidarum, linea nigra, and varicose veins – just to name a few.
Melasma is more commonly known as the mask of pregnancy. Because of hormonal changes, some women develop dark patches on their face, particularly around the forehead and cheeks. This is a normal change and it usually fades away after delivery when the mother’s hormones return to normal. Other common changes affecting the face are an increase in pimples, skin that becomes either more oily or drier and occasionally oily hair.
Striae gravidarum – or the dreaded stretch marks – tend to affect some women more than others. It’s thought that genetics plays a large role in determining who’s cursed with these spidery imperfections and who isn’t. In general, stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body during pregnancy but appear primarily on the stomach, buttocks, thighs, and breasts. Stretch marks are generally very red when they first appear and sometimes appear raised at first. Over time, they’ll fade and become less noticeable, but unfortunately they never completely disappear.
In addition, some women develop a dark line that runs from their belly button down toward their pubic area. This line is called the linea nigra and usually fades away after delivery.
Next, it’s common not only for the nipples and areola to become somewhat enlarged, but they also tend to become darker in color during pregnancy. The external genitals also become increasingly pigmented during pregnancy. A few months following delivery, this increased pigmentation typically fades back to normal.
Existing moles also become darker. New moles may appear, as may skin tags, which are harmless skin growths.
And although varicose veins aren’t technically a skin condition, they can seem to be as veins become more obvious during pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, you’re also more likely to develop heat rash, as pregnant women generally perspire more than non-pregnant women. To avoid developing a rash, avoid becoming overheated, and use a powder containing baking soda to help absorb moisture. You may also want to use an emollient cream under your breasts and at the top of the thighs to help prevent chafing.
Most of the skin conditions discussed above are harmless, but there are some rashes that occur during pregnancy that are cause for concern. PUPPP – or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy – are red raised bumps or spots that itch strongly and usually appear on the abdomen first, spreading to the things and occasionally to the arms and buttocks.
Papular dermatitis of pregnancy is another serious condition that causes a rash of red spots that are raised, look like insect bites, and are extremely itchy. They can appear anywhere on the body.
Baby Blues Vs Post-Partum Depression
There are three levels of depression that can occur after giving birth – baby blues, post-partum depression, and post-partum psychosis, listed in order of frequency and severity. The baby blues are usually mild and most women can get past them on their own with a little time, love, and support. However, if a woman develops post-partum depression, she’ll probably need medical help and possibly an antidepressant medication. If a woman develops post-partum psychosis, she’ll definitely need medical assistance to get through it.
Depression is common after giving birth – in fact, some medical professionals estimate that about 85% of all women experience the baby blues. However, it’s important to know the difference between these varying levels of depression so that you’ll know when to seek medical help.
*The following are some of the ways in which post-partum depression and the baby blues are alike:
-Both involve feelings of depression, although the baby blues are usually milder, and post-partum depression is more severe.
-Feeling fatigued and experiencing insomnia are common symptoms of the two
-Feelings of irritability, agitation, and crying spells are common in both cases
-You may find yourself feeling uninterested in activities you usually find fun
-Your appetite may be poor, which can lead to problems producing sufficient milk for breastfeeding
-You may have trouble concentrating and making decisions
-You may feel guilty or feel that you’re a poor mother
-You may be unusually worried about your baby’s health
*On the other hand, post-partum depression differs from the baby blues in several significant ways:
-Post-partum depression is more persistent, lasting at least two weeks after delivery
-The baby blues usually begin the week of delivery – if symptoms start later than that, you may be dealing with post-partum depression
-Most of every day, you feel depressed and have little interest in pleasurable activities
-In addition, you experience multiple symptoms, including at least four of those listed above
-You may find yourself unable or unwilling to care for yourself or your infant
Those most at risk for post-partum depression include women who have previously had post-partum depression, who have had a mood disorder before becoming pregnant, or who are adolescents. First-time mothers are also sometimes more susceptible to post-partum depression.
However, don’t get overly caught up in trying to make a diagnosis of post-partum depression versus baby blues yourself. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your health care provider. Not only can your health care provider help you with a diagnosis, but he or she can also prescribe antidepressant medications if they’re indicated and refer you to counseling or support groups that can help you through this difficult time. There are even some medications that are safe to use during breastfeeding.
Finally, if you have any thoughts or feelings of harming yourself or your baby, please get medical help right away, as this may be an indication of a more serious case of post-partum psychosis.
Nutrition During Pregnancy
Planning a Healthy Pregnancy Diet
When you’re pregnant, everything you do either contributes to your and your baby’s health or is a missed opportunity to have done something positive for both of you. You can make a big difference in your health and in your baby’s health, just by choosing the right foods for a healthy pregnancy.
Essentially, the diet, while you are pregnant, isn’t any different than before you were carrying your new bundle of joy. There are, however, a few foods to avoid or eat less of. Following the normal daily recommendations for the good old “four food groups” is the easiest way to make sure your baby gets what he or she needs.
Researchers used to believe that if babies did not get the proper nutrients from their mom’s body then they just suffered without those key nutrients—however new data now proves that babies will take from their mom’s body what they need—robbing mothers of key nutrients. For this reason, mothers-to-be should be careful to eat a balanced diet.
Your healthy pregnancy diet should include up to four servings of dairy products each day. Dairy is an important source of calcium and Vitamin D. You can choose from low fat or even skim milk or yogurt – cheese counts as a dairy serving as well. If you’re lactose intolerant or are an active vegan, soy options exist that can replace dairy products.
You should have one to two servings of lean protein daily as well. Protein sources can include foods like chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, and seafood. Do be aware, however, that some forms of seafood – particularly fish that may contain mercury – aren’t safe during pregnancy. The highest levels of mercury are found in kingfish, swordfish, tilefish, and sharks. Six ounces of chunk light (not chunk white) tuna weekly is considered safe for pregnant moms.
Other protein sources to use with caution include hot dogs and luncheon meats like bologna. These meats can contain bacteria known as Listeria which has been linked to miscarriages during the first trimester. Hot dogs should be heated to steaming, and avoiding luncheon meats altogether are safest.
If you’re a vegetarian, you can choose beans and cheese to fulfill your dietary requirements. However, if you’re choosing cheese as a protein source, it can’t also count as a dairy serving – one serving of food can only fulfill one requirement, not two. Aim for a total daily protein intake of around 80 grams, counting the protein in all the foods you consume. Nut sources like almond and peanut butter are also high protein sources.
One or two servings of fresh green leafy vegetables should also be included every day. Vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, spinach, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and collard greens all fit into this category.
You should also include five servings of whole grains each day. Whole grain products not only provide a number of vitamins and minerals, they’re also a good source of fiber. Pregnant women have a tendency to be constipated, and whole grains can help bulk up stools by absorbing water, making it easier to pass.
Whole wheat bread is a good choice – just make sure the first ingredient on the label reads “100% whole wheat,” and not “enriched wheat,” which isn’t actually a whole grain. Whole grain cereals like oatmeal are also a good choice, as is granola, as long as it doesn’t include trans fats.
Each day, you should include at least one serving of fruit that’s rich in Vitamin C in your diet. This could be an orange or grapefruit, or a serving of tomato. This can be in juice form, although the whole fruit is preferable, as you’ll get more fiber and nutrients this way. Five times each week, add a yellow or orange colored fruit or vegetable to your diet. This includes carrots, squash, and yellow bell peppers. These foods are a good source of beta carotene, from which the body manufacturers vitamin A.
You should also try to include two eggs in your diet every day. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and contain many vitamins and minerals that benefit your body, including a healthy form of cholesterol that will help your baby’s brain develop.
Healthy fats are another important dietary element during pregnancy. Nut oils, olive oil, or avocados are good choices. Avoid trans fats and aim for three servings of healthy fat each day.
Caffeine is generally safe as long as it is consumed in small amounts. Keep soda, coffee, and tea intake to six to eight ounces per day, or consider switching to a decaffeinated variety. Water is best of course, and it’s recommended that you get 64 ounces of water per day.
While a balanced diet may feel like lots of numbers and too much to think about, common sense will direct you to healthy choices. The occasional pit stop for a burger and fries is fine, just don’t make it a habit—or you may gain more weight than necessary.
How to Get Pregnancy Nutrition Help
Surprisingly, most health care providers receive little instruction on nutrition as a part of their education, and the nutritional education they do receive is targeted toward the minimum daily requirements for an average healthy adult. The particular needs of a pregnant woman are discussed only minimally.
Fortunately, there are a number of online sources that offer nutrition information for pregnant women and most books on pregnancy include a section on nutrition. But how can you evaluate this information and know whether you’re getting good information or not?
One of the best ways to evaluate pregnancy nutrition information is to consider the source. A website run by the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, for example, is generally considered to be more reputable than one run by an individual. However, a website run by a certified nutritionist is better than a site run by an individual with no particular nutritional education.
Once you’ve found several reputable sources, compare the information they provide. You’ll begin to see a pattern emerge. Generally speaking, when several major sources agree on a certain recommendation, you can feel confident that the recommendation is one you should follow.
For example, the need for folic acid before and during pregnancy is well established. You’ll also need additional calcium, additional iron, an increased amount of protein, and a good source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids during your pregnancy. But it’s enough to just get these vitamins and minerals in a prenatal supplement – you also need to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
A healthy diet during pregnancy is much like a healthy diet at any time in your life. You need whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. You should also try to avoid caffeine, processed foods, and sugar. Junk food and trans fats are a bad idea at any time – whether you’re pregnant or not.
However, there are some pregnant women that need more help with their pregnancy nutrition plans than others. For example, if you’re underweight, your overall food intake requirements will generally be higher than that of a normal-weight mother. But even if you’re overweight, you may still be deficient in certain areas of your diet and it’s usually not a good idea to try to lose weight while you’re pregnant.
In addition, if you avoid certain food groups – for example, if you’re a vegetarian or lactose intolerant – you may need special help to get all of the nutrients and calories you need during pregnancy. In each of these cases, talk with your health care provider. He or she may be able to provide you with a referral to a qualified nutritionist who can help you develop and follow a nutrition plan targeted toward your special circumstances.
For optimal nutrition during pregnancy, choose a wide variety of healthy foods that are as nutritionally sound as possible. Avoid junk food, trans fats, and extra sugar, and, when possible, choose organically grown food that’s free from added chemicals. Following these general guidelines will ensure that you and your baby receive the nutrients you need throughout your pregnancy.
Eating Right During Pregnancy
Eating right during pregnancy is an important responsibility. Not only do you need to maintain your own health, but your baby is also depending on you for everything he needs. In some instances, your growing baby will take the nutrients he needs even at your expense. For example, if your diet doesn’t include enough calcium, calcium will be taken from your calcium stores – your bones – for your baby. This can mean an increased likelihood that you’ll develop osteoporosis later in life, and is the science behind the old wives’ tale that you lose a tooth for every child.
In addition to an overall healthy diet, there are specific nutrients that must be included in a healthy pregnancy diet. While you’re eating for two, for most of your pregnancy, that second person is not much bigger than your fist. You only need about an additional 300 to 500 calories per day if you’re carrying one baby and twice that if you’re carrying twins. The thing you need to focus on more than overall calorie intake, however, is the quality of those calories. This is very much a case of quality being at least as important as quantity, if not more so.
For example, you’ll need additional iron during your pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, your blood volume nearly doubles and you need enough iron for all those red blood cells to be healthy. Food sources of iron are more easily absorbed than artificial iron from a supplement – some good sources of iron include dried fruits, spinach, red meat, fish, and chicken.
The B vitamin folic acid is also important, especially in early pregnancy when the tissues of the baby’s brain and spinal cord are forming. In fact, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting enough folic acid even before you conceive, as some of these important structures will form even before you know you’re pregnant.
However, it’s hard to get enough folic acid through diet alone, although you can get folic acid in many grain products, such as breakfast cereal and bread that have been fortified with additional folic acid. Your best bet to ensure adequate folic acid intake is with a good quality supplement.
In addition, if you want your baby to have strong teeth and bones, he needs plenty of calcium and vitamin D. The best sources of calcium and vitamin D are milk and milk products, such as cheese and yogurt. Most soy products, such as tofu and soy milk, also contain calcium and Vitamin D, but should be eaten in moderation, as excessive quantities of soy may cause harm to your developing baby.
Your pregnancy diet should also include healthy fats and essential fatty acids. Healthy fats include nut oils and nuts, olive oil and olives, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon. Butter is a better choice than other saturated fats and is fine in moderation. However, some women may find it hard to consume enough essential fatty acids without taking a supplement – check with your doctor to see if this is something you should consider.
Pregnancy Nutrition Guidelines
Follow certain pregnancy nutrition guidelines for a healthy pregnancy. These pregnancy nutrition guidelines ensure that you have a risk-free pregnancy. Nutrition during pregnancy is crucial to determining the health of the mother and the baby. What you eat determines the proper development of the baby, and easy labor and delivery. You should follow these pregnancy nutrition guidelines in consultation with your doctor, to maintain the ideal weight and meet the nutritional requirements of yourself and your baby.
Nutrition requirements during pregnancy are much more than before. Good Pregnancy nutrition ensures that you get adequate calories to build energy and tissues. The baby needs these nutrients for development. This is why Pregnancy Nutrition guidelines must be followed. You need 300 calories more than what you did before you were pregnant. Your diet should consist of cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy products. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and harmful drugs.
Here are the pregnancy nutrition supplements you should concentrate on:
Iron – Iron is a component of hemoglobin that carries oxygen. It is needed to form blood. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, a potentially fatal pregnancy complication. The need for iron during pregnancy is greater than before since the blood cells of the baby are also being formed. This also helps prevent fatalities caused by excessive bleeding during childbirth.
Protein – You need around 60 percent more protein than you did before pregnancy. This protein is used for the development of tissues like the placenta, uterus, etc. It also helps the baby grow.
Calcium – Calcium is another crucial part of Pregnancy Nutrition. Adequate calcium supplements are needed for developing the baby’s bones, teeth, and muscles. If calcium is not taken in the right amount, it could lead to the erosion of your bones to build the baby’s tissues.
Milk products are some of the best sources of calcium. Every Pregnancy Nutrition guideline recommends at least 1,500 mg of calcium per day. Soy products like tofu are also rich in calcium. If your calcium intake is not adequate, you may need to take a calcium supplement.
Vitamins – Take vitamin supplements if your vitamin intake is not as per Pregnancy Nutrition guidelines. Folic acid is a crucial nutrient since it aids the development of the baby’s nerves. Folic acid deficiency can cause defects in the baby’s nervous system.
Getting Adequate Nutrition
You need to follow certain Pregnancy Nutrition guidelines to ensure that you get adequate nutrition. Pay attention to vegetarian nutrition during pregnancy. Eat only fresh produce, and avoid tinned items as far as possible. Uncooked vegetables and meat carry germs and worms, so they are best avoided. Too much cooking can destroy the nutrients in the food, so steam the vegetables or bake them before eating.
These Pregnancy Nutrition guidelines help you overcome any nutritional deficiencies.
Foods to Eat During Your Pregnancy
Eating well during pregnancy is very important for the baby’s growth and development as well as for your health. In general, women do not require extra calories during the first trimester but will require about 300 extra calories per day in the second trimester and 450 extra calories per day in the third trimester. These numbers may vary slightly among women depending on their pre-pregnancy weights and current activity levels. The amount of calories consumed is important, but it is also important to obtain those calories from high-quality nutritious sources.
Protein: the recommendation is 1.1 g/kg/d, which is slightly higher than the non-pregnant woman (0.8 g/kg/d). Proteins are essential for cell growth and development and are considered the “building blocks of life.” They are involved in virtually all cell functions, so it is very important to consume adequate amounts.
What to Eat: lean meats, poultry, fish (low-mercury), eggs, beans, nuts, tofu
Carbohydrate: recommendation is 175 g/d (130 g/d for non-pregnant women). Carbohydrates are the most efficient energy source for the body because they are readily available, which is in contrast to both fat and protein that must first be broken down into component parts. Your body requires additional energy during pregnancy because it is making a baby! Therefore, now is not the time for a low-carb diet.
What to Eat: fruits, vegetables, pasta, cereal, rice, bread, potatoes. Try to choose whole grain carbohydrate sources as they tend to be more nutrient-dense
Fat: the primary functions of fat in the diet are energy production and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. However, not all fats are created equally. Intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids appears to have a positive effect on the neurodevelopment of the fetus as well as a role in reducing your cholesterol, while saturated fats and trans-fatty acids are known to be a factor in cardiovascular disease and may also contribute to unnecessary or excessive weight gain. Fat intake should be less than 30% of your total daily caloric intake.
What to Eat: in addition to high amounts of protein, fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy fats that also appear to play an important role in fetal brain development. However, many fish also contain mercury, which in high amounts may damage the fetal nervous system. It is however safe for pregnant women to eat 12 oz (about two meals) per week of low-mercury fish like salmon, shrimp, clams, catfish, and tilapia. Other sources of healthy fats include olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds. Meat also contains fat.
Aside from making sure you are eating foods that provide protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to you and your growing baby, it is also important to pay attention to serving size (this is true for everyone; not just pregnant women.)
A serving of protein is three ounces of lean meat (about the size of a deck of cards), two tablespoons of peanut butter, or one large egg.
A serving of carbohydrates is one medium-sized apple (or other fruit), one half of a bagel, or one cup of rice, pasta, or cereal.
A serving of fat is a teaspoon of olive oil or salad dressing, one ounce of avocado (which is 2-3 thin slices or . of a medium avocado), or one ounce of nuts (about 16 cashews).
As long as you pay attention to serving sizes and eat a variety of nutritious foods including protein, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats, your nutrition should be adequate to maximize your health while supporting your developing fetus. If you think you may be eating too much or too little, you might try writing everything you eat for three days in a food diary, so you can talk to your doctor about it at your next appointment.
Foods to Avoid When You’re Expecting
When you’re pregnant, everything you eat has the potential to either add to your baby’s health or put him at risk. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to avoid foods that can be harmful to your baby. Check out the following list of some of the primary foods you should avoid.
During pregnancy, you should avoid alcoholic beverages as much as possible, as alcohol doesn’t provide you or your baby with any nutrients. It can cause dehydration and can pass through the placenta to harm your baby. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a serious condition that can cause your baby problems for life. If you must drink, limit your alcohol consumption to a half glass of wine each week.
Other beverages you should avoid include those containing caffeine and artificial sweeteners, or beverages that are unpasteurized. While small amounts of caffeine won’t harm your baby, there are no studies showing that artificial sweeteners are safe for babies. The larger danger is that consuming beverages with caffeine will limit your consumption of other healthier beverages, like water and milk.
You should also avoid unpasteurized beverages, such as unpasteurized fruit juice or raw milk, as these beverages may contain harmful bacteria. Also avoid any milk products made from unpasteurized milk, including all soft cheese, such as feta, brie, camembert, queso blanco, queso fresco, and blue-veined cheeses like bleu cheese and stilton. If these cheeses are specifically labeled as pasteurized, they’re safe for consumption, but if not, stay away. Unpasteurized milk products may contain listeria, bacteria that can be fatal to pregnant women and their babies.
In addition, try to limit your consumption of organ meats such as liver or kidney. Also, avoid any undercooked meat and never eat raw oysters or any sushi – all of these foods expose you to potential food-borne illnesses.
On a similar note, you should not consume raw or partially cooked eggs unless they’re pasteurized. However, eggs are good food for pregnant women, so don’t eliminate them entirely from your diet – just be sure they’re cooked thoroughly. Raw eggs can be found in eggnog, cookie batter, some ice creams, Caesar salad dressings, mayonnaise, and even hollandaise sauce. When in doubt, it’s better to pass on a dish than risk becoming ill.
Next up, processed foods may contain chemicals that can be harmful to your developing baby. Whenever possible, choose fresh sources of food, such as freshly cooked ham instead of over-processed versions, like deli ham. Always be cautious when dining at buffet-style restaurants; look for food that’s kept steaming hot and frequently changed to avoid harmful bacteria.
Finally, cooked fish is a good source of lean protein and healthy essential fatty acids, but you must be careful to avoid fish that have been contaminated with mercury or other chemicals. Fish you should avoid include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Salmon and trout are usually good fish choices, but it’s a good idea to talk with your health care provider to find out what kind of fish are safest to eat in your area.
Don’t automatically assume that just because a fish has been farm-raised that it’s safe to eat – these fish may be even more contaminated than their fresh-raised brethren.
First Trimester Nutrition
Ideally, nutritional status should be assessed prior to conception, which allows any necessary dietary changes to occur and healthy habits to be established prior to pregnancy. The pre-conception check-up might also include a discussion of immunization status, vitamin and mineral supplementation (prenatal vitamin), menstrual history, previous pregnancies, general health and weight, medical conditions and medications, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. Your doctor will suggest ways to maximize your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
The major organs all begin forming during the first trimester, so a healthy environment right from the start is critical to the baby’s development. Here’s a quick overview of organ formation:
4 weeks: placenta and amniotic sac begin formation
5 weeks: the neural tube is forming – this will eventually become the spinal cord, nerves, and vertebrae. The heart and circulatory system begin to form
6 weeks: the heart is beating at 100-160 BPM, nose, mouth, and ears begin to form, intestines develop, brain, muscles, and bone are all starting to form
7 weeks: liver has started making blood cells, the appendix and pancreas have formed, hands and feet develop
8 weeks: fingers and toes form
9 weeks: the heart divides into 4 chambers, eyes are fully formed, the placenta takes over hormone production
10 weeks: kidneys are in place
Because the development of vital organs begins almost immediately, it is crucial to take a prenatal vitamin containing 0.4 to 0.8 mg of folic acid and eat a balanced diet beginning in the pre-conception period.
Calories are the most important factor in determining birth weight. Most women do not need to increase their caloric consumption until the second trimester when an additional 340 calories per day are needed, while 450 extra calories are typically needed in the third trimester.
Protein: the recommendation is 1.1 g/kg/d, which is slightly higher than the non-pregnant woman (0.8 g/kg/d)
Carbohydrate: recommendation is 175 g/d (130 g/d for non-pregnant women)
Fat: intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids appears to have a positive effect on neurodevelopment, while trans-fatty acids may have adverse effects on fetal development.
Vitamin: make sure you’re taking a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid. For more information, please see the vitamin supplementation in article Part 3
Mercury: found in certain fish. Pregnant women should avoid eating sharks, swordfish, and other fish high in mercury. Shrimp, salmon, and tuna are low-mercury fish and also contain healthy fats; these can be eaten twice per week.
Caffeine: 200 mg or less per day is recommended. The amount of caffeine varies among brands of soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Coffee (8 oz) has approximately 100-250 mg. Soda (12 oz) has about 50 mg.
Tea: (8 oz) has about 35 mg. Chocolate can be quite variable but may be up to 25 mg/serving.
Artificial sweeteners: there is no evidence that these increase the risk of birth defects
Food handling: it is generally advised to not eat raw or undercooked meat, fish, or eggs. The exception to this is sushi. Appropriate freezing of raw fish eliminates most parasites and bacteria, so sushi is considered safe.
Restrictions: it may be difficult for women who eat a vegan diet, have a health condition that causes malabsorption, or who have many food allergies to obtain adequate amino acids, iron, minerals, vitamins, and calcium for normal fetal development. A dietician should be consulted to maximize maternal and fetal health.
In general, women who eat three meals per day containing vegetables, fruit, whole grain, low-fat dairy, and lean protein usually have adequate nutrition. In contrast, women who skip meals or have a high intake of candy, soda, cookies, and chips are more likely to be deficient in some areas.
Although the calorie requirement does increase during pregnancy, the increase is not substantial. Likewise, pregnant women do need to gain weight, though it may not need to be substantial.
BMI < 18.5 (underweight): gain 28-40 pounds
BMI 18.5-24.9 (normal weight): gain 25-35 pounds
BMI 25-29.9 (overweight): gain 15-25 pounds
BMI > 30 (obese): gain 11-20 pounds
BMI stands for body mass index, and you can calculate yours with the following formula:
weight in kg / (height in meters x height in meters)
In conclusion, proper nutrition should start prior to pregnancy and continue into the postnatal period. Small increases in calories, protein, and carbohydrates are indicated and should come from nutritious and variable food sources. A moderate amount of weight gain should also occur during pregnancy and be based on the woman’s pre-pregnancy weight.
Second Trimester Diet
For most women, the beginning of the second trimester of pregnancy is a happy time. Most women find that their morning sickness is behind them and find their appetite has been restored. This is when those notorious pregnancy cravings often begin, as well as the infamous aversions to formerly preferred foods.
It’s thought that food cravings and aversions are the body’s way of getting the nutrients it needs and avoiding foods that could be harmful. And while there’s no sound science to support this, the theory certainly makes sense.
Unless you’re craving a non-food item, like charcoal, ice, chalk, or paint, it’s usually safe to indulge your craving in moderation. If you’re craving a non-food item, talk with your health care provider, these kinds of cravings, known as pica, can indicate a serious underlying deficiency that needs to be addressed. Even small amounts of chocolate and ice cream can have their place in a healthy diet during pregnancy, and if you’re craving healthy food like strawberries go ahead and indulge.
The hardest cravings to resist may be those foods that are bad for you. For example, sushi is a food that pregnant women must avoid, due to the potential for foodborne illness.
If you’re craving sushi, try eating cooked fish with sushi rice. Or, if you’re craving feta cheese, try substituting a pasteurized goat’s milk cheese. If you’re craving potato chips, make sure you’re eating enough salt, your chip craving could actually indicate a desire for additional salt. Some popcorn with salt and butter will give you the salt you are craving, along with whole grain, fiber, and some healthy fat. Craving pizza? Go lighter on the meats and heavier on the vegetables, but don’t deprive yourself.
While most women have plenty of energy during their second trimester, it’s still a good idea to begin planning ahead for those last months of pregnancy and the first few after the baby is born when you’ll be more tired and have less time for cooking. Cook extra servings of healthy foods now and store them in your freezer. In days to come, you’ll be glad you did.
Also, try to keep healthy snacks on hand. Fresh vegetables and fruit make great snacks, but be sure to add some protein – like cheese or milk – to round out your snack and give it more staying power.
The second trimester is an important time to focus on eating as healthy as you can. This will make up for any difficulties you had during the first trimester due to morning sickness, and help prepare your body for the additional challenges of the last trimester.
You should be consuming about 70 grams of protein each day, several servings of fruits and vegetables including leafy green vegetables, fruits rich in Vitamin C, and a good source of Vitamin A, several servings of whole grains, healthy fats, and essential fatty acids. If you have any questions about your diet, talk with your health care provider.
Third Trimester Diet
The third trimester for many women feels like the home stretch. However, there’s still important development happening for your baby most especially brain development. At the end of your third trimester, your baby gains additional weight and size so that she’ll be healthier at birth. You’ll also need reserves of strength to carry you through the arduous process that is labor, and the days to come when you’ll be recovering and caring for your baby.
Unfortunately, the third trimester can also present eating challenges, as the increasing size of your baby and uterus can press against your stomach, making it harder for you to eat.
During your third trimester, you need to consume about 300 more calories each day. This is when you’ll gain the most weight, but that’s to be expected. Don’t attempt to diet during your last trimester, but do make sure that the weight you gain is from eating healthy foods, and not junk food.
Junk food is especially tempting during the third trimester. You may be tired and not feel like cooking, and it’s all too easy to grab something from the store. You may also be anxious about the upcoming birth, and wind up choosing junk food as a form of self-comforting. Both of these behaviors will actually make things worse, junk food won’t give you the nutrients you need to create the energy you need, and it’s ultimately not comforting because it makes you feel worse for having eaten it.
When you need to grab something quick, focus on fresh fruits and vegetables. Add some cheese or another protein source, and your snack will have staying power. If you’re anxious, try talking with your partner, health care provider, or a trusted friend who has also had children instead of reaching for cookies or chips. It’s normal to feel anxious about childbirth, but it’s better to deal with your anxiety by doing something constructive, like taking a childbirth class, than by eating.
You’ll also feel better if you eat several small meals throughout the day rather than eating fewer, large meals. Your stomach will be a bit cramped toward the end of your pregnancy until your baby drops and smaller meals will be easier to tolerate.
One food you need to be sure to include in your third-trimester diet is a healthy fat. The last weeks before birth are when your baby’s brain does most of its development. You especially need essential fatty acids, including Omega 3s like DHA, which you can get from servings of fish and some nuts. You may also want to take a supplement if these foods don’t appeal to you. To make this easier, you can now find essential fatty acid supplements made especially for pregnant and nursing women.
Keep eating the same healthy foods that you have during your entire pregnancy. You still need the lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats that you’ve been eating during the first two trimesters. And remember to drink plenty of water – staying hydrated will help you to finish your pregnancy strong.