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15 Facts About The Daily Dozen During Pregnancy

From the moment a woman learns she's got a baby on board, she's on a whirlwind journey of changes.  Of course, the first changes she'll experience are in her eating habits... or lack thereof to be precise.  Morning sickness, thankfully, usually only lasts until the beginning of the second trimester.  However, once that second trimester hits, she'll experience more changes in her eating habits.  From barely eating dry crackers and ginger ale, mama-to-be will probably want to eat everything from cheeseburgers and tacos, to ice cream topped with Cheetos. Hey, can't help those cravings!

As much as her body starts to change (and grow and grow), the types of food expectant moms eat remains important.  After all, the food choices she makes affect not only her but her growing baby as well.  To help moms stay on track (and not eat too many Cheetos ice cream sundaes), the Daily Dozen was created to help give moms 12 simple rules for eating during pregnancy. Ready to get your pregnancy diet a kickstart? Here are 15 facts about the Daily Dozen during pregnancy.

15 All About Weight Gain

First things first, moms will need to gain weight during pregnancy. After spending years trying to avoid weight gain, in this case, a little weight gain is healthy. Don't worry, though, it's not just all belly fat. According to Mayo Clinic, the average mom only gains about 6-8 pounds of fat.

Where does the rest of the weight come from?  Of course, there's the baby (7-9 pounds), increase in breasts (1-3 pounds), growth from the uterus (2 pounds), placenta (1.5 pounds), amniotic fluid (2 pounds), increased blood volume (4 pounds), and increased overall fluid volume (2-3 pounds).  So there you have it!  Every mom will need to gain weight, but it's not all fat.  So, if she steps on the scale and sees the numbers increase, it's important for her to know that it's totally normal.

14 The Secret Number Is 300

The biggest tip when eating for two is not to actually eat for two.  Technically, of course, she is eating for two, but that little nugget doesn't quite have the same caloric needs as his mom. Meaning, there's no need for mom to double her caloric intake each day.  (Even though that would totally justify eating that whole chocolate cake.)

How many calories should pregnant mamas add to their diet? During the first trimester, don't be alarmed if you can't even meet your non-pregnant calorie goals.  It's hard to keep down any food, let alone go above your calorie limit.  After the first trimester, though, you'll need to add around 300 calories per day.  If you are severely under- or overweight before pregnancy, speak with OB/GYN about your specific caloric needs.

13 Shake, Shake, Shake Your Protein!

There's a reason bodybuilder's love their protein shakes.  Protein literally helps build bodies. Proteins contain the amino acids necessary for building human tissue.  While bodybuilders take advantage of this to build new muscles, pregnant mamas need protein to quite literally build the body of their babies.

According to the dietary guidelines outlined in What to Expect When You're Expecting, expectant moms need at least three servings of protein per day.  But don't think moms have to eat steak all day long.  One serving of protein could be one cup of cottage cheese, 4 ounces of lean meat, or even 6 tablespoons of nut butter.

As a bonus, many moms have said that eating enough protein helps manage morning sickness a little better.

12 But I'm Vegan... Now What?

Over the past few years, it seems that veganism is becoming increasingly popular - both for health reasons, as well as to take a stand against the meat industry.  Just how many people are vegan?  According to the Vegetarian Times, about 3.2 percent of American adults consider themselves to be vegan. In numeric terms, 3.2 percent of US adults calculates to roughly 7.3 million people.  

Vegan pregnant moms still need those protein servings, but how can they manage without meat? There are plenty of plant-based protein sources including chickpeas (hello hummus!), tofu (add that to some homemade fried rice), chia seeds, nuts, and lentils.  There are also plenty of plant-based protein powders available.

Personally, I found that chocolate powder, one frozen banana, and one cup of milk made the creamiest, yummiest protein shake.

11 Is This An Excuse To Eat Ice Cream?

Calcium is an incredibly important nutrient during pregnancy. In fact, if an expecting mother is not getting enough calcium, her body will take her own calcium so that the baby gets an inadequate amount. Unfortunately, that means she may be at a higher risk for osteoporosis later on in life. To be on the safe side, it is important for moms to get enough calcium each day.

According to WebMD.com, the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for pregnant and breastfeeding women over age 18.  This equals to about 4 servings per day. Even if we want to eat that 1000mg in double chocolate peanut butter ice cream, there are much better sources for calcium: milk, yogurt, orange juice (if it says fortified with calcium), sesame seeds, and collard greens.  (Psst! But if mama does indulge in ice cream, just following the serving size suggestions.)

10 Taste The Rainbow

No, this isn't an endorsement to eat Skittles throughout your pregnancy... although that would be tasty. According to the Daily Dozen, pregnant moms need to eat at least 3-4 servings of brightly colored vegetables.

Don't be dismayed by the word "vegetables." I admit, you probably aren't craving veggies that much during pregnancy, but your body definitely needs them. Spice up some veggies by altering how they are cooked - raw vegetables are not an obligation. For example, try roasting some red bell peppers with olive oil, then smearing them over a corn tortilla.

9 Eat Fruit ... But Not Too Much

From personal experience, fruits were my best friend during pregnancy.  I craved strawberries like nobody's business.  Pineapple?  I ate an entire one in a one sitting once.  Orange juice? Yep, I drank a whole carton once.  I love fruit in general, but during pregnancy, I just couldn't get enough.

Of course, expecting mothers shouldn't follow my lead.  Experts recommend eating about two cups of fruit per day.  It's easy to go overboard with fruit servings, so pay attention to how much you eat.  For example, one serving of fruit equals to one medium apple, a medium banana or 1/2 cup of blueberries.

The best sources will be from fresh fruit - not canned.  Canned fruit is especially high in sugar. However, even too much fresh fruit can cause your calories and sugar intake to tally up quickly.  Here's another tip: if you are at risk for gestational diabetes, consider eating a high protein breakfast and saving your fruit for later in the day.

8 But Juice Can Be Helpful

In the previous entry, you just read that the best source of fruit is fresh. But, fruit juice has a good place in pregnancy.  In fact, fruit juice can be quite helpful, especially for moms that are constipated. Constipation becomes a problem for many pregnant moms because the hormone progesterone (which is a necessary hormone for sustaining a pregnancy) also causes the muscles in the digestive tract to slow down.  The result? Constipation.

Fruit juice - especially prune juice - can help keep mama regular.  If you're not into prunes or prune juice, don't sweat it.  Try a 100% natural pear juice.  Fruit juice comes in handy for another reason too: kick counts.  If the baby is having a slow day and you need to do some kick counts, drinking a little juice can give her the energy boost she needs to move around.

7 Nix The Low Carb Diet

Carb lovers, rejoice! The Daily Dozen rules do not promote a low carb diet during pregnancy.  In fact, an expecting mother's body needs complex carbs - 9 to 12 servings to be precise.  Complex carbs are essential because they provide vitamins and minerals that are vital to baby's healthy growth and development.

Remember that not all carbs are bad; it's the simple carbs and processed junky carbs that should be avoided - pregnant or not.  So, what are some good choices for complex carbs?  Moms have plenty of yummy options like brown rice, barley, quinoa, oatmeal (skip the premade packets though, as those have way too much added sugar), whole grain bread, corn tortillas, and sprouted grain bread.

6 Channel Your Inner Popeye

Remember earlier we mentioned that on average women gain about 4 pounds just in increased blood volume?  Well, do you know what nutrient is essential in the production of red blood cells?  Iron.  For a mother's body to meet the demands of making all the extra blood, she'll need to get about 27 milligrams of iron per day, according to the WebMD.com.  Without enough iron, she'll have an increased risk of anemia.

Channel your inner Popeye and whip up a batch of spinach.  Spinach can be steamed, creamed, eaten fresh, or added to some stuffed shell fillings.  But here's a tip: eat your iron-rich foods with vitamin C rich foods to help iron absorption.  Other sources of iron include lean beef tenderloins, shrimp, and kidney beans. If a mother has any concerns about anemia, it is important to discuss her concerns with her doctor, and never start an iron supplement unless her OB advises otherwise.

5 Hard Pass On The Excess Salt...

Experts recommend pregnant women aim for no more than 2400 mg of sodium per day. Too much salt can cause problems such as high blood pressure, and high blood pressure in pregnancy is extra dangerous. It can also make her more bloated and swollen than normal. The tricky thing is that sodium hides in a lot of foods, especially the convenient foods: canned soup, fast food, and freezer meals.

If an expectant mother is tracking her sodium, a fitness app that can log her sodium levels will be easy for her to use. That way, if she does eat canned soup or the occasional fast food meal, she'll still be able to track her daily intake.

Need some low sodium snack ideas? Apple and peanut butter, kale chips, smoothies, spiced popcorn (add spices, not salt.)

4 ... But Don't Pass On The Electrolytes

No mother wants to overdo the salt, but she does still need sodium. Everybody (pregnant or not) needs electrolytes to function properly. Electrolytes are minerals that dissolve into human fluids - such as blood. The basic electrolytes are salt (sodium chloride), magnesium, and potassium. Electrolytes help maintain water balance, prevent cramps, help muscles contract smoothly, and help transmit nerve pulses. Which are all pretty important stuff!

Dehydration and excessive sweating can cause her to lose electrolytes, so it's important to make sure mom-to-be stays hydrated and includes electrolytes in her diet. Natural sources of these minerals are better than sports drinks. Coconut water is a great choice.  Some moms-to-be even spray magnesium right onto their skin for quick absorption.  The spray also helps soothe muscle cramps on legs, which is a bonus!

3 Healthy Fat Is A Must

Fat tends to get a bad rap, but the truth is, we all need fat. The trick is to avoid the bad fats and eat the good fats. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are good fats, but unfortunately, the body doesn't make Omega-3 Fatty Acids; we have to obtain them from a diet. For this reason, an expecting mom's OB will likely tell her to take a DHA/ Omega 3 supplement during pregnancy. She can get Omega-3's from salmon and sardines. Other good sources of good fat include avocados, walnuts, and olive oil.

Don't skimp on this nutrient: Omega-3 fats are essential in the brain development of a baby.  In addition to the baby's health, mom will benefit too.  According to American Pregnancy, these fatty acids also help regulate blood pressure, blood clotting, kidney function, and hormone production.

2 Drink Up, Buttercup

We all know water is important: the human body needs water to function, thrive, and simply to exist.  It's why our doctors have us drink 8 glasses of water per day.  Water is necessary to regulate body temperature, maintain the body's pH level,  regulate the metabolism, prevent constipation and migraines, and hydrate the skin (among many other purposes).

In pregnancy, however, water intake becomes that much more important.  Not only does mom-to-be need water for her own body, but the water is needed to build the baby's circulatory system, contribute to amniotic fluid, and help the digestive system flush out wastes.  Remember, that water is your best friend in preventing constipation.  You'll need to drink your 8 glasses of water, but you can also add in other beverages including milk, juice, and decaf tea or decaf coffee.

1 From Flintstones To Prenatal

You probably had Flintstones vitamins growing up. Didn't everyone? There's a reason you took vitamins as a kid, and there's a reason why prenatal care is so important today. It's really hard to meet the daily requirements of all of the vitamins and minerals. A vitamin helps bridge the gap between what a mother needs and what she missed.  This is incredibly helpful during the first trimester when she can barely eat anything, let alone keep it down.

Even more important, prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, which is a very important, and necessary, nutrient during pregnancy. Folic acids help prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy. Many OB's recommend that women of child-bearing years take a prenatal for this reason. Prenatals also include iron, which can help prevent anemia. If an expecting mother needs help choosing the right prenatal vitamin, it is best she speaks with her OB.

Sources: Fitpregnancy.com, whattoexpect.com, MayoClinic.com, WebMD.com, AmericanPregnancy.com

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