Eating for Two

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Does a baby on board really mean eating for two? Probably not!

You are likely to have a whole new attitude to food now that you are pregnant. You know that your unborn baby needs plenty of healthy food to grow and develop, but your usual eating habits have probably been turned on their head.

Cravings are perfectly natural and towards the end of a pregnancy, some women can’t stop eating, whilst others can hardly eat a thing. Most women are concerned about the amount of weight they put on. But unless you’re noticeably over- or under-weight, your midwife probably wont be too concerned. If you are worried about any aspect of your weight or diet, do talk to your midwife about it.

The best thing you can do for your baby when you are expecting is to eat healthily. Here’s a few pointers to get you started.

First trimester

During your first three months, you will probably feel exhausted and nauseous. Avoid junk food and too much fat, as these will only sap your energy even further. Instead, opt for foods rich in iron, such as red meat, chicken and fortified bread. You should also stock up on foods rich in folic acid, such as leafy greens and fortified cereals, and you should think in terms of taking a folic acid supplement also. Feeling parched? Drink plenty of water each day and try and try and aim for a couple of glasses of milk too – your growing baby needs plenty of calcium for those growing bones.

Feeling Nauseous?  For most women, nausea passes after week 14 of pregnancy. It certainly isn’t fun, but there are plenty of natural remedies to try.

  • Eat little and often – nausea is worst on an empty stomach.
  • Ginger is a definite winner – infuse tea, keep some ginger biscuits by the bed or use in cooking.
  • Anything lemony.

Second trimester

Many women’s appetites return with a vengeance in the second trimester of pregnancy. Nausea has probably passed and you are beginning to bloom. All your baby’s major organs have formed and he will grow at a fantastic rate over the next 28 weeks.

As you begin to show, it can become tempting to help yourself to as much food as you feel like. Actually, you should only be eating around 300 calories extra a day, and these should come from nutritious foods that contribute to your baby’s growth and development. So you have no excuse for tucking in to three packs of biscuits at one sitting!

Avoid skipping meals to prevent swings in your blood sugar levels. Making sure you eat plenty of carbohydrates, such as wholemeal bread, porridge oats, potatoes, rice and pasta, will help. Avoid constipation by drinking plenty of water and prune juice and eating lots of fibre-rich foods.

Third trimester

You are on the home stretch now! Your baby’s development is focused mainly on his brain and nervous system and you are likely to be suffering from a range of associated symptoms.

Heartburn is very common during late pregnancy and your pharmacist will be able to recommend a suitable medicine. Milk isn’t going to help, and could even encourage your stomach to produce more acid. Peppermint or ginger tea are good natural alternatives. Constipation and piles are likely to be more of a problem than ever at this stage. Beat the problem by eating lots of fruit and veg and wholegrain cereals.

GEMMA GALLAGHER

Take a look at the HSE’s advice on what to eat during pregnancy and please consult your GP if you have any concerns.

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