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Pregnancy Nutrition When Carrying Twins

Dianna Graveman | 8, March 2012


Carrying twins is a workout! Just as when you are pregnant with one baby, good nutrition is essential at this time. Most health care professionals suggest you add about three hundred extra calories to your regular daily diet when pregnant with one baby, and six hundred when pregnant with twins. One way to do this is to eat several times each day--three meals and at least two healthy snacks. But make sure those calories count: plan to eat a variety of foods high in protein and carbohydrates, and avoid too many sugary treats.

Fruits, vegetables, and grains are important in pregnancy no matter how many babies you are carrying, but high protein foods like milk, cheese, nuts, eggs, and meat will provide energy and help you keep that calorie count at the level required to nurture your unborn twins. Additional high protein choices may include yogurt, peanut butter, brown rice, and oats. Nutritionists also recommend pregnant women ingest about 1100 mg. of calcium each day. Some of the foods already mentioned--milk, cheese, yogurt, almonds, and tuna--all contain plenty of calcium, as do leafy green vegetables. If you are a vegan, consult your health care provider or a nutritionist to make sure you meet yours and your babies' needs at this time.

Of course these extra calories and the development of two babies instead of one means you will gain more weight than you would with a single fetus. Guidelines suggest that a mother of twins should gain about ten additional pounds to accommodate that extra baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommendation is often 37 to 54 pounds (about 17 to 25 kilograms) for women who are pregnant with twins and who have a healthy weight before becoming pregnant. If you are overweight or underweight before pregnancy, the recommendation may be much more or less. Always talk to your doctor or health care provider to decide what is best for you.

Later in the pregnancy, when two babies take up a lot of room, you may find your appetite waning. Healthy snacks like granola bars, cheese strings, nuts, dried fruit, or peanut butter and crackers can easily travel with you in your purse or tote so you can enjoy convenient, nutrition-packed snacks throughout the day if you have difficulty eating large meals. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, and milkshakes are good sources of calcium and protein and may be more appealing than other foods, especially during the warmer months.

It's important to remember to take your prenatal vitamin throughout the pregnancy to ensure you get enough calcium, iron, and folic acid. Your health care provider will prescribe a supplement for you early in pregnancy. Most likely, you will not take anything different when you are carrying twins than you would if you were carrying one baby. However, mothers of twins can have a slightly higher risk of developing anemia, and if your doctor or health care provider determines during a routine blood test that your iron level is not high enough, he or she may prescribe an additional supplement. The recommended daily intake of iron is about 22 to 36 mg. when pregnant.

As with any pregnancy, remember to drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Dehydration later in pregnancy can put you at risk for premature labor. Guidelines suggest that women pregnant with twins should drink as much as a gallon a day. That can be difficult, especially later in pregnancy when the babies are getting bigger and taking up a lot of room. Try keeping a bottle or jug of water with you and taking sips from it throughout the day instead of drinking large amounts of water at one time.

Choose your foods wisely and enjoy those extra calories. Your healthy newborns--and your own healthy post-pregnancy self--will thank you for it.

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