Eating for Three: Pregnancy Nutrition When Expecting Twinsby Katlyn Joy | January 17, 2012
Pregnant with twins? The math isn't as simple as doubling your calorie intake or gaining twice the weight recommended for singleton pregnancies. However, making sure you get enough of the right foods and gain enough will go far in preventing low birth weight or preterm labor, two of the major risk factors for multiple pregnancies.
Expect to aim for about 3000 to 3500 calories a day. Don't fantasize about bags of chips and buckets of ice cream however. You still need to get those additional calories from healthy food sources instead of stacking your caloric intake with empty junk food ones.
The bottom line on weight gain for twin pregnancies depends on the weight of the pregnant women before she was expecting. For those who were of normal weight the goal is to gain between 37 and 54 pounds. Women who are overweight should tip the scales at 31 to 50 pounds during the gestation period, while obese women need to limit their weight gain to 24 to 42 pounds. One good rule of thumb is to gain 24 pounds by the 24th week of pregnancy to avoid premature labor. It's also thought to help prevent low birth weight babies if you put on this amount of weight by this point in your pregnancy.
Of course, consult closely with your health care provider to ensure your weight gain seems healthy for your pregnancy.
Women expecting twins should take a prenatal vitamin that is fortified with at least 30 milligrams of iron. Iron-deficiency anemia is more prevalent with twin and multiples pregnancy than singleton pregnancy so getting adequate iron is important in preventing prematurity, a risk of anemia. Blood volume is a key factor in pregnancy but especially with twins. Iron is crucial for supporting a twin pregnancy. Besides iron supplements, keep your diet healthy with iron-rich foods like spinach, red lean meats, and other green leafy vegetables. One good iron source is blackstrap molasses.
Folic acid is just as important to those carrying twins as it is to those carrying a single baby. Besides this nutrient associated with preventing neural defects such as spina bifida, a woman pregnant with two needs to increase her protein and calcium intake as well.
Simple as it sounds, water is crucial for a healthy twin pregnancy. Drink at least 6 eight ounce glasses a day, but drink more on days that are hot, or when you are exerting extra energy. Dehydration can cause swelling of the ankles or feet, urinary tract or bladder infections and constipation. Constipation can lead to painful hemorrhoids.
Your doctor may prescribe more than one prenatal vitamin but increase the amount only under a doctor's orders. Doubling up on the vitamins may lead to an unsafe level of certain vitamins so it's important to carefully follow instructions. Vitamin A can even cause birth defects if it reaches a toxic overdose level.
Besides low birth weight and prematurity, twin pregnancies are at higher risk for gestational diabetes. One good way to prevent this pregnancy complication is to not gain more weight than is recommended or put it on too quickly. Also by aiming for nutritional food sources over empty calories, you can prevent this all-too-common situation.
Since often women carrying multiples are advised to limit certain activities to prevent labor from occurring too soon, healthy eating is key. Since you may have to limit your exercise, watching your diet is even more important. If you are placed on bedrest or are limited in your physical exercise, ask your physician for ways to stay active safely.
For your best pregnancy outcome, consider consulting with a nutritionist to develop your eating plan for your twin pregnancy. Sometimes insurance may cover this as a means to prevent more costly complications that can arise from improper diet or weight gain.
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