Blunder 1: Overeating
The first mistake many mommies make is overshooting the whole “eating for two” thing. We know you’re feeling hungry, but you’re only feeding an extra pint-sized person, not a linebacker. Although you are meant to gain weight during pregnancy, too much weight gain can lead to problems such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and even premature labor. A healthy mama will gain an average of 25 to 35 pounds over the course of her pregnancy, and typically only about five of those pounds will be packed on during the first trimester. You probably won’t need to start consuming extra calories until the second trimester, at which point you can add around 300 per day.
Blunder 2: Giving into cravings
Satisfying the occasional craving likely won’t hurt you, but overdoing it can be bad news for both you and baby. Sarah Krieger, registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says one of the biggest no-nos is losing discipline and giving into your cravings entirely. “With all three of my pregnancies I craved salty foods in the first trimester and then sweet foods the remaining two trimesters,” says Krieger. “Did I [eat] fast food and buckets of ice cream? No. I chose lower calorie foods that were still high in nutrients.” For salty cravings, Krieger suggests using sauces on cooked veggies. For your sweet tooth, chocolate nonfat dairy products like hot cocoa and pudding should do the trick. Also try smoothies with yogurt, advises Krieger.
Blunder 3: Lacking liquids
Not only do you have to eat right—you need to drink right too. Keeping your body hydrated during pregnancy is crucial. You should be drinking eight glasses of water a day in your regular diet, and during pregnancy, 10 glasses should be your goal. The fluid you intake acts as a transportation system, carrying nutrients through the blood to your baby. Plus, a significant amount of water is used in the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby and aids in the growth of the fetus.
Blunder 4: Dieting during pregnancy
Gaining a substantial amount of weight in a short period of time can be hard on a girl, even if you know it’s happening because you’re nurturing another life in your womb. As the numbers on the scale creep up, it can be tempting to try to diet or decrease the amount of food you eat. But don’t do it! One of the biggest mistakes any mommy-to-be could make is dieting during pregnancy. You can always limit the amount of unhealthy calories you’re consuming, but it’s very important that you eat enough to allow your baby to thrive. Make healthy choices and get regular, low impact exercise to control your weight gain, and save the diet until baby has safely arrived in your arms and you’ve healed from labor and delivery.
Blunder 5: Skipping meals
We get it: You’re busy, you’re tired, food nauseates you, and you’re just not in the mood to eat in the early days of pregnancy (or maybe even the late days, when there seems to be no more room in your body for even a sandwich). But skipping meals is a bad idea when you’re feeding a family—doing so can deprive you and your baby of crucial nutrients. Many moms-to-be find that eating several small meals a day rather than three large meals keeps their stomachs in better shape and reduces nausea, heartburn and other pregnancy-related discomfort. Breakfast is especially important, since you’ve gone several hours without eating, and you and your growing bud both need some nourishment. Missing the most important meal of the day will decrease your energy level and leave you more susceptible to unhealthy snacking.
Blunder 6: Putting off prenatals
Learn to love your prenatal vitamins. They provide all the “extras” you need in your diet to properly nourish your baby-to-be. In fact, prenatal vitamins are so important for an expectant mom that Krieger recommends you start taking them early on—and she does mean early. “I advise women in the range of childbearing age to take prenatal vitamins, even if they are not planning on kids soon, because you just never know,” she says. One of the reasons popping your daily vitamin as early as possible is so important: Your little one’s brain and spine are developing even before you know you are pregnant, and the folic acid found in prenatal vitamins helps that process go smoothly. Calcium and iron are also imperative to the development of your baby. Don’t be afraid to be choosy about which vitamin you take: Some are designed for specific deficiencies and may not be right for you. Always talk to your doctor to find the prenatal vitamin that is your best fit.
Making good choices during pregnancy will provide your baby with lifelong positive effects, so eat smart—but don’t beat yourself up if you indulge that ice cream craving occasionally. As long as you’re providing your babe with the nutrients she needs and making wise food choices, you’re giving her a head start on a happy, healthy life.