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Are You Really Eating for Two?

Expectant moms often hear the term "You're eating for two now," which is typically followed by extra large helpings of food. But are you really eating for two? The answer is "yes" and "no."

It is true that your baby recieves nutrients and calories from what you eat. However, you don't need to double down on meals.

Eating well during pregnancy is more than simply increasing how much you eat. You must also consider what you eat.

What to do while waiting for baby to arrive? Schedule a prenatal consultation

Although you need about 300 extra calories a day — especially later in your pregnancy, when your baby grows quickly — those calories should come from nutritious foods so they can contribute to your baby's growth and development.

Eating Well When You're Pregnant

Do you wonder how it's reasonable to gain 25 to 35 pounds (on average) during your pregnancy when a newborn baby weighs only a fraction of that? Although it varies from woman to woman, this is how those pounds may add up:

  • 7.5 pounds: average baby's weight
  • 7 pounds: extra stored protein, fat, and other nutrients
  • 4 pounds: extra blood
  • 4 pounds: other extra body fluids
  • 2 pounds: breast enlargement
  • 2 pounds: enlargement of your uterus
  • 2 pounds: amniotic fluid surrounding your baby
  • 1.5 pounds: the placenta

Of course, patterns of weight gain during pregnancy vary. It's normal to gain less if you start out heavier and more if you're having twins or triplets — or if you were underweight before becoming pregnant. More important than how much weight you gain is what makes up those extra pounds.

When you're pregnant, what you eat and drink is the main source of nourishment for your baby. In fact, the link between what you consume and the health of your baby is much stronger than once thought. That's why doctors now say, for example, that no amount of alcohol consumption should be considered safe during pregnancy.

The extra food you eat shouldn't just be empty calories — it should provide the nutrients your growing baby needs. For example, calcium helps make and keep bones and teeth strong. While you're pregnant, you still need calcium for your body, plus extra calcium for your developing baby. Similarly, you require more of all the essential nutrients than you did before you became pregnant.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: May 2013

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