10 Foods That Fight Pregnancy Heartburn

10 Foods That Fight Pregnancy Heartburn

Pregnancy heartburn or acid reflux: whatever you call it, that uncomfortable, burning sensation and constant need to burp is one pregnancy symptom all moms-to-be could do without.

Towards the end of both of my pregnancies, I had persistent heartburn at night the minute my head hit the pillow. I’d try to “burp” myself like a baby, hitting my back and my chest to try to relieve some of the pressure and prop my head up with pillows so I could get a few hours of shut-eye. Although it helped a bit, I was happy after I gave birth to no longer deal with it.

Approximately 30 to 50 percent of women will complain about pregnancy heartburn.

The reason is primarily pregnancy hormones—progesterone and relaxin—which cause the lower esophageal sphincter, or the muscles around the esophagus to relax and push food acids back up.

Eating alone can also cause acid reflux, so avoiding food two hours before bedtime is a good idea.

Triggers can vary between women but spicy foods, foods high in fat, and those that contain caffeine (chocolate included) or citrus usually cause heartburn.

A good rule of thumb: stick to whole foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables and eat meals you make at home so you know exactly what you’re eating. Here, 10 healthy foods that fight pregnancy heartburn.

1. Ginger

Ginger does double duty for both morning sickness and acid reflux. It’s both anti-inflammatory and well known to help with GI discomfort.

Add ginger to a homemade green juice or green smoothie, grate it into a stir-fry or sip on a soothing cup of warm ginger tea.

2. Bananas

A great source of potassium, bananas are alkaline so they can fight acid reflux. Add a few slices to your breakfast or enjoy as a snack when hunger strikes.

3. Fennel

Fennel, or “Finacchio,” is an herb thought to cleanse the palette after a large meal—at least in many Italian-American families like mine. Whether it’s an old wives’ tale or not, fennel is used to help relieve digestive issues including heartburn, gas and bloating. If you like fennel’s mildly licorice taste and crunchy texture, chew on some or chop it up and add it your meals.

4. Green leafy vegetables

During the second and third trimesters, when morning sickness usually subsides and you have more of an appetite, fill up on green leafy vegetables which are packed with nutrition, filling fiber and are alkaline, so they won’t cause acid reflux.

Broccoli, kale, spinach, celery and cauliflower are all great choices.

5. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium and can prevent pregnancy heartburn. Since most brands of yogurt are high in sugar, choose plain Greek yogurt and add low glycemic fruit like blueberries or raspberries which also have filling fiber.

6. Melon

If you’re pregnant during the summer or live in a warm climate, you’re probably craving fresh, sweet fruit that has a high water content like watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew, which are all refreshing and also keep acid reflux at bay.

7. Parsley

Well-known as an herb to aid digestion and relieve stomach upset, parsley also works well in green juices and in most dishes.

8. Whole Grains

Sources of complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa are high in fiber so they’ll help you feel satiated and ward off acid reflux.

9. Almond milk

Dairy can cause stomach upset in some people but almond milk is alkaline and a good source of calcium.

Enjoy a glass alone or use it to make a breakfast smoothie.

10. Lean meats

Chicken, turkey or lean cuts of beef are all good sources of protein which will help you feel satiated and quell acid reflux.

 

Be sure that the meat you eat however, has the skin removed, grilled, broiled, baked or steamed and is thoroughly cooked to avoid harmful pathogens.

Avoid meats that are fried or have creamy or acidic sauces, which can cause acid reflux.

Pregnancy Nutrition: 10 Diet Do’s and Don’ts  When it comes to pregnancy nutrition, the key is to eat foods that will fuel your body and help your baby grow.

Pregnancy Nutrition: 10 Diet Do’s and Don’ts

When it comes to pregnancy nutrition, the key is to eat foods that will fuel your body and help your baby grow.

All intentions of healthy eating and striving for “perfect” nutrition during pregnancy can go right out the window with your positive pregnancy test.

Eating leafy green vegetables may have been your goal but bagels and cream cheese seem to be more your reality. And if you have nausea and morning sickness, saltine crackers and ginger ale is the best meal you’ve had all week.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t know as much as I do now about nutrition. I also didn’t think too much about the foods I was eating.

Of course I knew I shouldn’t be eating chips and chocolate, but I didn’t think indulging was that big of a deal. The problem was, I indulged whenever I wanted. A second helping? Sure. Dessert? Why not.

I’m embarrassed to admit that even though I didn’t regularly eat fast food, I ate McDonald’s once during my pregnancy. After a prenatal appointment. As a “treat.” A pregnant woman “deserves” French fries, right?

After I delivered my daughter and started to research and report more on pregnancy nutrition for Fox News, I learned how important pregnancy nutrition really is.

A healthy pregnancy diet will ensure you give your body and your baby what they need. Eating healthy foods and paying attention to portion sizes can help you control your weight gain and lower your risk for certain pregnancy complications and problems after pregnancy.

But what should you eat and what foods should you avoid? Here are 5 diet do’s and don’ts.

5 Pregnancy Diet Do’s

1. DO Get Folic Acid

To prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida, it’s important that you get an adequate amount of folate, a B vitamin, and the synthetic version, folic acid both before you get pregnant and especially during the first 6 weeks of pregnancy.

Experts recommend all women—whether they’re hoping to get pregnant or not—take 400 micrograms (mcg) of a folic acid supplement. Although folate isn’t absorbed as well as folic acid, you can get it from foods like beef, chicken, pork, fish and shellfish, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans and legumes and fortified foods like some cereals.

2. DO Curb Sugar

 Your sugar cravings might be out of control but eating too much sugar during pregnancy can cause you to gain too much weight, which can increase your risk for gestational diabetes and later type-2 diabetes, pregnancy complications and birth defects.

Being overweight during pregnancy can also make it more difficult to lose the baby weight after you deliver. And studies show babies born to moms who are overweight are more likely to be overweight themselves.

But it’s not only added sugars from desserts, soda or candy that you should limit, but sugar from refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and anything with white flour like processed and packaged snacks.

Read labels carefully and watch how much sugar you’re eating. When you eat grains, stick with whole grains like rolled oats, quinoa and brown rice, for example.

3. DO Eat Whole Foods

Eating a variety of whole foods not only will give you the nutrition you need, but studies show babies’ food preferences start in utero.

So eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and chances are, your baby will be a healthy, adventurous eater when he starts solids.

4. DO Drink Up

During pregnancy, you need to drink more water even if you’re constantly in the bathroom. Staying hydrated is how your baby gets all of the nutrients you consume and. can help you prevent urinary tract infections (UTI’s), constipation, headaches and swelling. Of course, you’ll want to drink up if it’s hot outside or after a workout.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends pregnant women drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.

5. DO Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Studies show eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy is vital for the development of baby’s brain and retina development. Eating these healthy fats may even determine when your baby is born and prevent postpartum depression, according to a 2010 study in the journal Reviews In Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The best source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, are from fish, which can be tough to get if you’re avoiding it because you’re worried about mercury toxicity.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) however, says it’s safe to eat two, 8-12 ounce servings of fish per week. Fish with low levels of mercury include shrimp, salmon, catfish and pollock. Avoid those with high levels of mercury which include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. If you eat white albacore tuna, limit it to 6 ounces a week.

Pregnancy Diet Don’ts

1. Don’t Eat For Two

A common misconception about pregnancy nutrition is that you should eat for two but that line of thinking may be the reason 47 percent of women gain too much weight during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Keep in mind the foods you eat are certainly important for you and your baby but that doesn’t mean you should be eating twice as much.

In fact, during the first trimester you don’t need to eat extra calories. During your second and third trimesters, you only need an additional 300 to 450 calories a day.

These are guidelines and can vary if you’re underweight or overweight when you become pregnant, so always talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you’re on target. Also, don’t go crazy counting calories: eat until you’re satisfied, not overly full.

2. Don’t Order That Venti

The research isn’t clear, but some studies suggest that consuming too much caffeine during pregnancy could cause miscarriage or low birth weight.

ACOG recommends pregnant women limit their overall caffeine consumption from all sources including coffee, tea, soda and chocolate, to 200 milligrams a day. To put that in perspective, an 8-ounce regular coffee is 95 milligrams of caffeine so have two and you’re at your max for the day.

I love coffee and tea so when I was pregnant, I referred to this caffeine chart on BabyCenter.com.

3. Don’t Forget You Need More Iron

During pregnancy, you need about double the amount of iron than you did before pregnancy so that your body can make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby.

ACOG recommends 27 milligrams of iron a day which you can likely get from your prenatal vitamin.

But be sure to eat iron-rich foods too like beef, chicken, fish, beans and peas and iron-fortified cereals. Also, eating iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C can help your body more efficiently absorb iron. So if you make a vegetarian chili with beans, add in tomatoes, for example.

4. Don’t Eat These Foods

During pregnancy, there are certain foods you should avoid because of the risk of bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause foodborne illness and serious problems for you and your baby. Soft cheeses, lunch meats and raw fish are some but check FoodSafety.gov for a complete list of foods to avoid during pregnancy.

5. Don’t Diet

According to a 2012 survey by SELF magazine and CafeMom.com, nearly 50 percent of pregnant women admitted to restricting calories, eliminating entire food groups and eating a lot of low-calorie and low-fat foods. A few women said they even turned to fasting, cleansing, purging and using diet pills and laxatives.

You might be worried about gaining too much pregnancy weight or losing the baby weight after you give birth but pregnancy isn’t the time to diet.

Be sure to check out the pregnancy weight gain recommendations which take into account your pre-pregnancy weight and if you’re having one baby or multiples. Yet whether you’re overweight or on target, the key is to eat healthy and pay attention to portions.

10 Healthy Energy-Boosting Foods For New Moms  Between feedings, dirty diapers and everything else you have to do to care for your newborn, you’re exhausted. Although there’s not much you can do to get more sleep, you can beat fatigue with healthy foods that will give you energy.

10 Healthy Energy-Boosting Foods For New Moms

Between feedings, dirty diapers and everything else you have to do to care for your newborn, you’re exhausted. Although there’s not much you can do to get more sleep, you can beat fatigue with healthy foods that will give you energy.

After my husband and I brought our first child home from the hospital, I remember thinking, “what’s the big deal? I can do this!”

The minute we walked in the door, he actually put on the TV and plopped down on the couch like not much had changed. I even took a hot shower as my daughter slept.

During that first week, I remember telling my mom that I enjoyed waking up at night for feedings! That didn’t last long of course, when reality—and serious fatigue—set in.

If you recently had a baby, suffice to say you’re utterly exhausted. Between late-night feedings, the endless amount of dirty diapers and laundry and everything else you have to do in a day, being a new mom isn’t easy.

Although you may find it tough to eat a meal, eating healthy foods after you’ve had a baby can give you the energy you need to keep up with your newborn and feel the best you can both physically and emotionally. Here are 10 to include.

1. Bananas

One of the best energy-boosting foods for new moms, bananas are a great source of fiber—1 small banana has 2.6 grams. Bananas also have vitamin B6 and potassium, both of which are necessary for the body to make energy.

2. Eggs

Starting your day off on the right foot with a healthy breakfast will keep your blood sugar levels steady, help you feel satiated until lunch and prevent you from feeling hangry at your next meal which can cause you to overeat.

With nearly 30 grams of protein in one large egg, plus several key nutrients like potassium, eggs will you give you the energy boost you need.

Eggs are also quick to scramble, a great addition to virtually any meal and make for a quick and portable snack.

3. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but it’s because of their high amount of fiber and protein that will give you an energy boost. Three tablespoons has 9 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber

Add pumpkin seeds to yogurts, smoothies, salads and baked goods.

4. Beans and legumes

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 49 have iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia and cause fatigue.

One of the best sources of iron are beans and legumes. They’re also an excellent source of protein to satisfy your hunger and they have soluble fiber which is digested slowly and gives you a steady source of energy.

5. Salmon

Salmon is an excellent source of both protein and healthy fats to help you feel satiated and keep your blood sugar levels steady.

Salmon is easy to cook but if you’re short on time, canned is fine in a pinch.

6. Leafy green vegetables

Leafy green vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, Swiss chard and collard greens are all rich in iron and fiber to keep you feeling full and give you energy.

You can serve green leafy vegetables with any meal but one of the easiest ways to get a lot of green leafy vegetables in your diet is to make green juice or a green smoothie.

7. Almonds

One of the best energy-boosting foods for new moms, almonds are a good source of protein, fiber and iron. One ounce of almonds has more than 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 1 milligram of iron.

Almonds can help stave off hunger and they make a great snack especially when you’re on the go.

8. Popcorn

Unlike refined or simple carbohydrates which spike blood sugar, whole grain carbohydrates have fiber which keep blood sugar steady and help you to feel full.

Popcorn, one type of whole grains, is a great alternative to chips or crackers when hunger strikes in the afternoon. Stick with plain popcorn instead of brands made with added butter, salt or cheese.

9. Hummus

Hummus is packed with fiber and protein: a 1/2 cup has 7.9 grams of protein and 6.0 grams of fiber.

Serve hummus with baby carrots, pepper or cucumber slices, or swap it for mayonnaise or mustard on your favorite sandwich.

10. Chia seeds

An excellent source of protein, fiber and healthy fats, chia seeds are one of the best energy-boosting foods for new moms.

Mix chia seeds in smoothies, yogurt, muffins or make chia pudding.

 

Folic Acid: Why Women Need It Before and During Pregnancy  Folic acid supplements are vital to prevent birth defects, but when is the best time to take it and how much do you need?

Folic Acid: Why Women Need It Before and During Pregnancy

Folic acid supplements are vital to prevent birth defects, but when is the best time to take it and how much do you need?

About three months before my husband and I started trying to get pregnant with our first child, I took prenatal vitamins with folic acid.

Like any new mom, I wanted to do everything perfectly so I researched the vitamins and minerals—and the recommended amounts of each—that I should take. Since I have a cousin who has spina bifida, I knew about the importance of taking folic acid, so I specifically chose a prenatal vitamin with 1,000 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid, the highest amount that’s safe to take.

If you’re trying to get pregnant, your gynecologist, midwife or provider should also make sure you know to take your prenatal vitamins with folic acid before you get pregnant, during your pregnancy and even if you’re not trying to get pregnant.

Read on to learn why folic acid is so important for all women, how much you should take and how to get folic acid in your diet.

Why do you need folic acid?

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, or vitamin B9. Folate helps make red blood cells and is vital for the growth and function of healthy cells throughout your body.

Taking folic acid before you get pregnant is important to prevent neural tube defects—

birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects, which include spina bifida, anencephaly and Chiari malformation, occur in approximately 3,000 pregnancies each year in the U.S., according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What many women don’t know is during the first 4 to 6 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period is when the neural tube forms and when defects occur. The neural tube ultimately becomes the spinal cord, spine, brain and skull.

Whether you’re trying to get pregnant, trying to avoid getting pregnant or don’t think you can get pregnant, you should take folic acid, since 45 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, according to a March 2016 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Studies suggest taking folic acid may also have more benefits for your baby. In fact, a recent study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found moms who were prescribed a multivitamin and folic acid supplement had a 73 percent lower risk for having a child with Autism.

Eating folic acid-fortified foods was associated with an 11 percent reduction in certain heart defects, an August 2016 study published in the journal Circulation found.

Adequate levels of folate during pregnancy may also reduce the risk that a child will become obese, especially those born to moms who are obese, an August 2016 study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found.

How much folic acid should you take?

Although experts say all women of childbearing age should take folic acid, 22 percent aren’t getting enough. Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, so it needs to be taken every day.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s guidelines state before pregnancy, most women should take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin that has 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid or a separate supplement with the same amount. During pregnancy, you can increase folic acid to 600 mcg and 500 mcg if you decide to breastfeed.

If you have a family history of neural tube defects or another medical condition, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not you should take a higher dose of folic acid.

What are the types of folic acid?

Some women who have an MTHFR genetic mutation can’t utilize folate as well so they may need to take the bioactive form of folate.

Foods with folic acid

Folic acid supplements are actually better absorbed and utilized than food. In fact, folate-rich foods are absorbed and utilized at a rate of 80 percent than that of folic acid supplements, a 2007 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Nevertheless, foods rich in folate are still an excellent addition to your supplement. Foods highest in folate include:

  • Beef liver: 215 mcg
  • Spinach: 131 mcg
  • Black-eyed peas: 105 mcg
  • Asparagus: 89 mcg
  • Brussels sprouts: 78 mcg

Additionally, there are certain folic acid-fortified foods such as cereal, bread, pasta, rice and grains. Be sure to read labels carefully. Some of the highest sources of folic acid-fortified foods include:

  • Cereals: 100 mcg
  • White rice: 90 mcg
  • Spaghetti: 83 mcg
  • Bread: 43 mcg

If you’re unsure about how much folic acid and folate you should be getting or if you think you could be deficient, be sure to speak to your doctor.

 

8 Reasons To Avoid Sugar During Pregnancy  You already know you should eat healthy, get plenty of protein, iron and folic acid, but should you also avoid sugar during pregnancy?

8 Reasons To Avoid Sugar During Pregnancy

You already know you should eat healthy, get plenty of protein, iron and folic acid, but should you also avoid sugar during pregnancy?

Between fluctuating pregnancy hormones, morning sickness and intense cravings, rummaging through your kitchen pantry for cookies, chocolate, candy or a sugary treat can become a habit. Or if you hit a 4pm slump, downing some sugar for a quick boost of energy might do the trick.

Of course, sugar isn’t only found in obvious foods like pastries and desserts, it’s also in refined grains like white bread, pasta and processed foods. It can also hide in seemingly healthy foods like yogurt, granola and cereal.

Although you may have been a very healthy eater before your pregnancy, now you might find yourself indulging in sugary foods you used to eat in moderation or avoid altogether.

I won’t lie. When I was pregnant with my first child, I ate whatever I wanted to: bagels for breakfast and a piece of chocolate every day. And if I was at someone else’s house or on vacation, there was nothing holding me back from eating crackers, chips and desserts.

The foods you eat during pregnancy are crucial for you and your baby’s health and although you don’t have to completely eliminate sweets from your diet, you should do your best to avoid sugar during pregnancy. Here are 10 reasons why.

1. Gestational diabetes and type-2 diabetes

One of the most compelling reasons to avoid sugar during pregnancy is gestational diabetes.

Although researchers don’t know what causes gestational diabetes, a condition that affects between 5 and 18 percent of pregnancies, weight is a risk factor. If you’re overweight or obese, your risk for developing gestational diabetes is 2 and 4 times higher than women who have a normal weight, according to an August 2007 meta-analysis in the journal Diabetes Care.

Moms with gestational diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure, preeclampsia and eclampsia. Although gestational diabetes usually resolves itself after pregnancy, women who have it are more likely to develop type-2 diabetes later on in life.

Babies born to moms with gestational diabetes also have an increased risk for high blood sugar levels and being overweight, which can also lead to pregnancy complications.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, experts recommend you follow a healthy diet. Avoid processed, packaged foods and sugary treats and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (ideally low glycemic fruit such as berries), lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Instead of refined grains which spike your blood sugar, stick to whole grains.

2. Pregnancy weight gain

For some women, gaining more weight than they should during pregnancy is inevitable no matter how healthy they eat and how much they exercise.

Yet studies show women are already overweight before they become pregnant and they gain too much weight during pregnancy. In fact, a November 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found nearly 50 percent of women gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy.

If you eat a healthy diet and avoid sugar during pregnancy, you’re less likely to gain too much.

3. Fatigue

With all the work your body is doing to help your baby grow and develop, on top of all you have to do each day, chances are you’re exhausted or have some level of fatigue. Yet overindulge in something sweet and you’re bound to crash.

If you’re craving something sweet, opt for low glycemic fruits like raspberries, indulge in treats occasionally and eat foods that boost your energy.

4. Pregnancy complications

If you are overweight, you have an increased risk for pregnancy complications such as obstructive sleep apnea, miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery and cesarean section. You also have a higher risk for blood clots to develop during labor and delivery, infection and problems with the administration of pain medications.

Your baby also has an increased risk for neural tube defects like spina bifida, which can also be hard to diagnose on an ultrasound if you’re overweight. In fact, a June 2017 study published in the journal The BMJ found that the risk of birth defects during baby’s first year of life increases with a mother’s weight.

He could be born prematurely or be born with “macrosomia,” a term to describe babies who weigh more than 9 pounds, 15 ounces. Having a large baby can cause problems during labor and delivery and surprisingly, with breastfeeding.

5. Overweight kids

Studies show babies who are born to overweight moms are more likely to be overweight too. Although poor diet and lack of exercise could be to blame in these families, research suggests it starts in utero.

In fact, an August 2016 study published in Maternal and Child Health Journal found children whose moms gain excess weight or who have elevated blood sugar levels during their pregnancies are more likely to be overweight or obese during their first 10 years of life.

6. Losing the baby weight

According to a December 2013 survey by BabyCenter.com, nearly 60 percent of moms who have 1 and 2-year-olds were still carrying a small amount of baby weight.

Your life is much different after the birth of a baby and finding time to exercise can be tough, but if you avoid sugar during pregnancy, you may be less likely to hang on to those lbs.

7. Bad habits

Whether you started to have a sweet tooth during pregnancy or not, it’s a good idea to curb the habit now before it becomes a long-term problem. After you have your baby, you’ll be sleep deprived—and maybe stressed.

When cortisol, the “stress hormone” rises, you might be more likely to turn to food for comfort. Sleep deprivation also causes your body to ramp up production of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone” which tells your body to eat and slow down leptin, the hormone that decreases appetite. Also, the more sugar you eat, the more you crave.

8. A healthy family

If you avoid sugar during pregnancy and have healthy habits, you’re setting the foundation for both you and your children to have a healthy life. When your kids see you eating healthy, purchasing healthy foods and preparing healthy meals, they’ll be motivated to follow suit.

6 Pregnancy Nutrition Myths—Busted

6 Pregnancy Nutrition Myths—Busted

When I was expecting my first child, pregnancy nutrition wasn’t top of mind as much as it was when I was pregnant with my second child. Sure, I avoided lunchmeat, raw sushi and soft cheeses, but I ate plenty of bagels and chocolate too. I exercised but I didn’t pay attention too much attention to portion sizes and I gave myself freedom to eat what I wanted.

It was a big mistake, of course, because I gained more weight than I should have.

At the time, I knew I should eat healthy foods—but I didn’t delve deep into pregnancy nutrition. When I started to write for Fox News however, I learned how important nutrition was. I also realized that without a ton of guidance or time spent with their doctors or midwives, moms like me weren’t educated about pregnancy weight gain, foods they should eat and those they should avoid.

Here are 5 pregnancy nutrition myths moms believe and the real truth.

Myth #1: You need to eat for two.

If your mom or mother-in-law tells you that you can eat as much as you want because you’re eating for two, they’re wrong. According to a 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47 percent of women gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy and that extra weight can lead to complications and poor outcomes.

In the first trimester, you actually don’t need to consume extra calories. If you have a normal body mass index (BMI), an extra 340 calories a day during the second trimester and an extra 450 calories a day in the third trimester is appropriate, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

If you’re carrying twins or multiples, or you’re underweight, overweight or obese when you become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you eat the right amount of calories and have a healthy weight gain.

Myth #2: Coffee causes miscarriages.

Like most writers, I love coffee. My husband’s a morning person but he knows I’m not the happiest person until I have my first cup of coffee in the morning.

After my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, the amount of coffee I drank was on my radar because studies show that drinking large quantities of coffee in the first trimester of pregnancy is linked to an increased risk for miscarriage.

According to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 200 milligrams of caffeine a day—about an 8-ounce cup of coffee—isn’t associated with an increased risk for miscarriage. Of course, soda and chocolate also contain caffeine so be mindful of how much you’re getting each day.

Myth #3: You should avoid eating fish because of mercury.

You may be nervous about eating fish in fear of mercury exposure, but fish is an important source of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids which are important for your baby’s brain development.

In fact, a 2016 study in the American Journal Of Epidemiology found eating more servings of seafood each week was associated with higher cognitive scores and a decrease in symptoms of autism.

The EPA and FDA recommended pregnant women eat 2 to 3 servings of low-mercury fish per week. They also have a chart to help you decide which types of fish to eat and which to avoid.

Myth #4: You should avoid eating peanuts.

Until recently, women were advised to avoid allergenic foods like peanuts because it was believed eating them could increase the risk that their child would also be allergic.

Yet the new thinking is that allergenic foods should be consumed and avoiding them may actually increase a child’s risk for food allergies. In fact, a December 2013 study in JAMA Pediatrics found women who weren’t allergic to peanuts but ate more of them were less likely to have children with a peanut allergy.

Myth #5: You can’t eat sushi.

Not only can some types of sushi contain high levels of mercury but eating raw or undercooked sushi can cause parasite or certain bacterial infections.

Since fish is such a good source of protein, DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, you don’t have to avoid sushi but go for low mercury, cooked varieties instead.

Myth #6: A glass of wine is not a big deal.

Many women from our moms’ generation drank alcohol during their pregnancies and everything seemed to turn out fine. I’ve had women tell me that if they were near or past their due dates, their doctors told them to relax, be patient and have a glass of wine.

It also turns out some women think a glass of alcohol during pregnancy is safe. According to a report by the CDC, 1 in 10 pregnant women in the U.S. say they’ve had at least one drink of alcohol in the last 30 days. Several studies in the last decade suggest light drinking is not only safe but is associated with improved outcomes for children.

Most recently, a meta-analysis published in July 2017 in the journal BMJ Open found little evidence that low to moderate drinking during pregnancy has an adverse effect on babies.

Nevertheless, experts and major health organizations agree: avoiding alcohol during pregnancy is the best way to eliminate the risk for complications and fetal alcohol syndrome.

8 Reasons You Can’t Lose The Baby Weight

8 Reasons You Can’t Lose The Baby Weight

After you give birth, all of your time is occupied by feedings, diaper changes, laundry and errands. There’s not much “me-time” but once you get settled into your new routine, make healthy eating and exercise becomes more of a priority. Yet after a few months when your weight loss hits a plateau, you might start wondering why you can’t lose the baby weight.

It turns out that losing the baby weight is a concern for most moms. According to a survey by BabyCenter.com, 61 percent of new moms said they expected to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight by their baby’s first birthday yet almost the same amount of moms with 1 and 2-year-olds still hadn’t lost all the weight.

Although diet and exercise are a key component to weight loss, there might be other reasons why you can’t lose the baby weight.

1. Pre-pregnancy and pregnancy weight gain

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50 percent of women are overweight or obese when they get pregnant and 47 percent gain too much during pregnancy, one study found.

Both your pre-pregnancy weight and the amount you gained during pregnancy have a lot to do with losing the baby weight. In fact, women who gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy are 10 pounds overweight 15 years later, a study in The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found.

2. Lack of sleep

Ever notice that when you’re sleep deprived, you crave sugar, salt and carbs? That’s because without enough sleep, your body increases its production of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger and decreases its production of leptin, a hormone responsible for appetite.

Although there’s not much you can do to avoid those sleepless nights, you can ask your partner to take a feeding or try to nap while your baby naps during the day. Also, eating at the same time every day can help to regulate your hunger hormones.

3. Not eating enough


Intermittent fasting and extreme calorie-cutting diets have received a lot of attention in recent months for their ability to help people lose a lot of weight fast, but when you just had a baby, these diets can impair your ability to lose weight and be downright dangerous.

Not only can skipping meals make you irritable and more likely to eat more at your next meal, but fasting is linked to abdominal weight gain and an increased risk for pre-diabetes, a study out of The Ohio State University suggests.

Of course, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you need even more calories—about 300 to 500—and dieting should be out of the question.

4. Thyroid dysfunction

Studies show thyroid dysfunction due to iodine deficiency is on the rise. During pregnancy your baby takes iodine from your body but this could lead to hypothyroidism, which can cause weight gain, among other symptoms.

If you think you have hypothyroidism, ask your doctor to run a comprehensive thyroid panel, which includes TSH, free T3, free T4, and reverse T3 and the thyroid antibodies.

5. Too much time in the gym

Although cardio is important for overall health and a great way to lose weight, overdoing it can actually make you feel overly hungry and cause you to overeat.

When you get the all-clear from your doctor to start working out again, try low impact cardio—like walking with your baby in the stroller—along with some resistance training. Then as you get stronger, gradually transition back into your pre-pregnancy workouts.

6. Midnight snacking

 

When your baby wakes up at night, you might be tempted to grab a snack for yourself but those extra calories could hinder your ability to lose weight.

Instead, drink a glass of water or try some decaf tea, which can help you fall back asleep.

7. Emotional eating

It’s common to feel anxious and stressed especially when you’re a new mom, and if you also have postpartum depression, everything can feel overwhelming. Although eating can soothe you, it’s always temporary, not to mention it can prevent you from losing the baby weight.

Instead of turning to food to feel better, make a list of healthy activities you can do when your feelings feel like too much to handle: going for a walk with your baby, calling a friend, journaling or meditation, for example.

8. A lack of patience


Log out of Facebook and stop reading stories about celebrities who lost the baby weight in 2 weeks. The reality is that it can take 6 months or more to lose the baby weight.

Remember that your body is unique so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not losing the weight as fast as you would like. Instead, continue to eat healthy and exercise and make small changes each day.

7 Superfoods For a Healthy Pregnancy

7 Superfoods For a Healthy Pregnancy

When I was 8 weeks pregnant with my first child, my husband and I took a short vacation with his family at the Jersey shore. Although I wasn’t having full-blown morning sickness yet, my stomach felt kind of off and I felt hungry at the same time. So right before we left, I picked up an eggplant parmesan hero and devoured all of it on the drive down.

Suffice to say, I didn’t eat healthy during my pregnancy. Although I ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, I gave myself permission to eat chips, a slice of cake or an extra portion, because heck—I’m pregnant, I reasoned. But that thinking was all wrong and as the number on the scale went up, people would ask me, “Are you sure you’re not carrying twins?”

Through my work as a health journalist, I learned that what you eat during pregnancy really does matter and the second time around, I made it a point to eat healthier.

Sure, pregnancy cravings and food aversions can get the best of you but experts say if you want to have a healthy pregnancy, you need to eat healthy. These 7 superfoods are a good first start.

1. Eggs
Scrambled or hard-boiled, eggs are one of the best foods you can eat during pregnancy. Not only are they an excellent source of protein (1 egg has 7 grams), they also have iron and choline which are important for brain development.

Choline is so important, in fact, that the American Medical Association recently recommended pregnant women get more of it in their prenatal vitamins.

2. Berries
This time of year, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are in-season so expect them to be more affordable and delicious than any other time of the year. Since they have vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium, folic acid and antioxidants which build your baby’s skin cells and immune system, they’re one of the healthiest fruits you can eat.

3. Green leafy vegetables
If morning sickness is in full force, you might not have an appetite for veggies but green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, K, iron, and B vitamins which are important for your baby’s brain development and nervous system.

Green leafy vegetables are also good sources of calcium which is important to help your baby develop strong teeth and bones. Two to three servings a day is ideal but if you can’t stomach them, try making a green smoothie or green juice.

4. Iron fortified cereal
Since your blood volume doubles during pregnancy, it’s important to get enough iron so you won’t become anemic. Of course meat is a great way to get iron, but if you’re a vegetarian, vegan or need another source, iron-fortified cereals that have an 80 to 90 percent daily value of iron are good choices.

5. Salmon
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon are vital for your baby’s brain and eye development. Eating salmon during pregnancy may also reduce your child’s risk for asthma, a recent study found. Fresh, frozen or canned—salmon is an easy way to get protein in your diet.

6. Quinoa
You already know the importance of getting enough folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida and one way to get folate itself is by eating quinoa. Quinoa is also a great source of protein, fiber, vitamin B, E and antioxidants and it’s versatile: eat it as a side with dinner or in a fruit parfait for breakfast.

7. Lentils
Lentils contain folate, calcium, zinc and amino acids and are also an excellent source of protein and fiber which will satisfy your hunger and ward off constipation. Make a soup, vegetarian stew or throw some lentils in a salad.