In addition to providing nutrients and energy, all those calories will help you gain weight during pregnancy. The recommended gain for an average-size woman is 25 to 35 pounds. (Experts advise overweight women to stay in the lower end of the range, and underweight moms-to-be should aim for the higher end.)
While consciously putting on pounds is an unappetizing thought for many women, this is one time when you should cut yourself a break. "It's not a time to be concerned about the weight," says Los Angeles-based Kathy Kaehler, fitness consultant for DietSmart.com and a mother of three. "Focus on the fact that you are giving yourself and your baby quality nutrition, and let the weight do what it will."
Undereating or sticking to a weight-control diet while you are pregnant is not a wise choice. "When you don't eat, your baby may not have the energy and nutrients it needs and will use up your own nutrient stores," says Swinney.
But by the same token, don't feel like you can gain as much weight as you want; it won't just melt off after childbirth. "Cut out the empty calories," says Danner. If you overdo it, she says, "you're going to feel extra stress to shed those pounds later."
To accurately monitor your weight during pregnancy:
- Weigh yourself weekly, not daily (no need to worry about small fluctuations);
- Weigh yourself at the same time of day and under the same conditions (i.e., every Saturday morning, after using the bathroom, wearing the same nightgown);
- Use the same scale each time for accuracy.
Nausea and morning sickness are likely to strike during the first three months of your pregnancy. "Eating small meals five to six times a day can help," says Danner, since an empty stomach often triggers nausea, as can eating too much at one sitting. "Drink fluids between meals, not with meals, to avoid extra movement in the stomach." If morning is your queasiest time, "eat a little something to jump-start the digestive process before you get out of bed," she adds. "Keep crackers or pretzels by the bed. They help settle the stomach because they are low in fat and easy to digest."
If your prenatal vitamin is making nausea worse, "try taking it with meals or at night as opposed to first thing in the morning," says Dr. Curtis. If you really have trouble tolerating the supplement, he suggests talking to your doctor about alternatives -- like chewable prenatal vitamins -- but don't give up on getting these essential nutrients into your system.
If you are vomiting often, "eat whatever you can to get through it, and try to stay hydrated," says Swinney. "Don't feel guilty that you're not eating a power-packed meal" while you're sick, assures Dr. Curtis. Some foods that are usually well-tolerated during serious bouts of morning sickness include turkey or chicken breast, raw fruits, raw vegetables, juices, caffeine-free soda, skim milk, popsicles, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, pudding, yogurt, cereal, rice, and pasta. If you experience heartburn in the last trimester of pregnancy, drink plenty of fluids, keep active, and focus on consuming fiber-rich foods.
Read ahead for what not to eat during pregnancy