During pregnancy, your basal metabolic rate (BMR, or the number of calories you use each day) will increase, and you'll need more calories to support the extra work needed for fetal development. During the first trimester, most women usually don't need to increase their usual daily intake of calories (i.e., 1,800 to 1,900 calories) unless they need to compensate for starting a pregnancy underweight. But even if extra calories aren't consumed in the first trimester, you should still make balanced nutrition part of your daily wellness plan.
During the second and third trimesters, you will need an extra 350 to 450 calories each day. But that doesn't mean feeling uncomfortably full: for example, just a couple of pieces of toast and a banana can supply those extra calories.
There are exceptions to the extra-calories rule: women who start out under- or overweight, women who are very physically active, and women with certain medical conditions should talk to their doctor about specific caloric needs.
Choose healthy foods to supply calories instead of high-fat or high-sugar alternatives. For example, if you like sweetened snacks and beverages, remember that fresh and dried fruits, and fruit juice concentrates, are sweet but also contain important vitamins and nutrients (unlike some other high-sugar snacks). The occasional ice cream treat is OK, but note that enjoying a cone or small bowl of low-fat yogurt is a more nutritious way to obtain dietary calcium.
Women with diabetes should talk to their doctor or a registered dietitian about their special nutritional needs during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant and have diabetes should carefully monitor their blood sugar levels to make sure the levels remain within the normal range. Women with blood sugar levels that are too high risk having a difficult birth. They also risk having babies that weigh more than normal at birth and have various newborn problems.
Women who did not have diabetes before may also develop the condition during pregnancy. This kind of diabetes is known as gestational diabetes. Most women with gestational diabetes can control their condition with a healthy balanced diet and moderate exercise. Medications are usually not necessary. Gestational diabetes usually disappears after the baby is born.
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