There are a lot of challenges to eating right when you’re pregnant. Nausea and other digestive symptoms can make food unappetizing, and as your pregnancy progresses there’s less room for your stomach and esophagus. When you’re pregnant with multiple babies, nutrition and eating enough become extra challenging and equally important. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re eating for multiple babies.
You will need and often want to eat more food, but it’s important to be careful about the quality and quantity of foods that you’re eating. In general, practitioners recommend eating around 300 additional calories per day per fetus, meaning that twins would require 600 extra calories, triplets 900, and so on. This number will increase as you progress during your pregnancy, and it’s important to follow your doctor’s and nutritionist’s advice for your particular situation and needs.
This sounds like a lot of food, and it is. Women normally eat around 1,800 calories a day, which makes 600 a big increase. The trick is to eat smaller meals throughout the day and pick a variety of nutrient-dense foods that get everything you need into smaller, more appetizing servings.
The Necessary Nutrients
Multiple pregnancies require the same nutrition as single pregnancies, but because there are more risks associated with multiple pregnancies, diets that are high in calories and nutrients improve your babies’ chances of being delivered healthy. In general, you’ll stick to a pregnancy diet but add extra servings of protein, calcium, and whole grains: here are some nutrients that you and your health care provider will discuss.
It might be annoying to stop by the bathroom so often, but it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink eight glasses of water during and between meals to decrease your risk of preterm labor and symptoms like constipation.
Zinc is linked to a lower risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight, and prolonged labor. You’ll need to supplement your diet with zinc because your levels will drop during pregnancy.
Folic acid lowers your babies’ risk of birth defects, and it’s important to get extra even before you become pregnant. Spinach, asparagus, and oranges are all good sources of folic acid.
Eat some yogurt to get extra calcium in your diet. This will help your babies’ bones develop and could reduce the severity and risk of preeclampsia, low birth weights, and preterm delivery.
Magnesium is what your body uses to build and repair tissues as well as regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. It also helps build strong bones and teeth in your babies, develops their immune systems, and keeps your uterus from prematurely contracting.
You’ll need extra help growing your babies and building not only their muscles but also your uterine muscle fiber. Protein may also prevent preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preterm labor. Get your protein from lean meats and dairy products.
Higher levels of DHA are associated with higher birth weights, and fewer neurological problems for babies as they grow. Fish Oil supplements are are great way to get DHA into your diet.
You need iron to help manufacture red blood cells and prevent maternal anemia as well as decrease your risk of hypertension, preterm delivery, and low birthweight. Try fortified cereals, red meat, and supplements if you need them. If you have a hard time stomaching the supplements, talk to your doctor about splitting up the doses.
Vitamin D can help increase blood circulation in the placenta as well as aid in calcium absorption, which helps your babies’ bones develop properly. Drink a cup of fortified orange juice or go out into the sun to get some extra Vitamin D.
Nutrition Counseling with Valley Perinatal Services
With more than one baby on the way, it will take a lot of work to make sure that everyone is properly nourished. For expectant mothers of multiples in Phoenix, Tucson & Sierra Vista, the perinatologists and staff at Valley Perinatal Services can help. We offer nutrition counseling and services tailored to the needs of women pregnant with multiples and can support you in every phase of your pregnancy journey. Talk with your OB/GYN about co-managing your pregnancy with Valley. Call 480.756.6000 or contact us online.