Are you a serial breakfast skipper? Been known to nosh chips for lunch? Now is the perfect time to redeem yourself: When you're pregnant, whipping less-than-stellar eating habits into shape should be one of your first goals. After all, the foods and drinks you take in every day directly impact your growing baby, says Elizabeth M. Ward, R.D., author of Pregnancy Nutrition: Good Health for You and Your Baby (John Wiley). And developing sound eating patterns now can mean a healthier child-not to mention a healthier you-for years to come. In other words, pregnancy is not the ice-cream-free-for-all it's often depicted as being. Sure, you need extra food when you're pregnant-and, oh, yes, you'll most likely experience cravings-but eating a balanced diet now is more important than ever.
So what can you expect? Some days you'll feel ravenous-and on others, you may not want to nibble anything but saltines. And, of course, you can expect to gain weight. If you started your pregnancy at a healthy weight, your goal gain will be roughly 25-35 pounds. Underweight women should gain 28-40 pounds, and overweight women only 15-25. If you're carrying twins, you'll obviously gain more: about 35-45 pounds total.
Though weight gain is absolutely necessary right now, it is possible to gain too much. But forget about drastically slashing calories or following strict diets during pregnancy. Instead, focus on making small, healthy changes, such as switching to non-fat milk; replacing fatty, high-sugar snacks and desserts for lower-fat options or fruit; and choosing lean cuts of meat. Here are more ways to maximize nutrition during your pregnancy.