Ask the Moms, part 2 – Pregnancy nutrition

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This week’s question comes from Shree, who is about 20 weeks pregnant with mo/di twins. She wants to know what the moms of How Do You Do It? did with regard to nutrition during pregnancy, and whether or not we followed the guidelines in Dr. Luke’s book, When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads. She also has the special concern of being a vegetarian, wondering about getting all she and the babies need while avoiding meat. So, here we go. Ask the moms, and we shall answer. This one’s for all the pregnant ladies in the hizzouse…

Yours Truly (Goddess in Progress) – Stats: gained 65 pounds (lots of retained water/swelling at the end), delivered at 36 weeks, baby weights were 6lb2oz and 4lb8oz.

I did read Dr. Luke’s book, and thought the recommendations were good in theory, but insane in practice. I thought I’d have to immediately quit my job so that I could eat, drink water, and sleep all day long. But I did try to make sure I was eating a fair amount, and while I did not forgo junk food altogether, I remember wanting to feel like most of the things I was consuming had at least some positive nutritional value. At work, I’d often take an early break in the morning and go to Starbucks, where I’d get one of their sausage and egg sandwiches (so tasty, plus protein – bummer that they’re discontinuing them!) and a chocolate milk (dairy!). A favorite workday lunch was stir-fry from the Thai place around the corner – lean chicken and lots of veggies. I definitely paid a lot of attention to having a source of protein at every meal. I also knew I needed extra iron, which I used as a great excuse to have cheeseburgers frequently. :-) I briefly, after reading the Dr. Luke book, created an elaborate spreadsheet to see if I was getting all of my servings every day. I don’t think it lasted 24 hours. Ah well. Oh, and then there was the water. I started the pregnancy with a minimum of two quarts a day. By the end (yay, pregnant in July), my trusty Nalgene and I made it through well over a gallon each and every day.
From the archives: Here’s what I thought when I read the book, and a wake-up call over the importance of hydration.

Cheryl – Stats: Gained 45 pounds (but lost a few before delivery), delivered at 36w5d, baby weights were 5lb14oz and 4lb14oz.

When I picked up the [Dr. Luke] book (mid-way through my pregnancy), I did feel a bit intimidated by it…my doctor assured me that I was on target weight gain-wise, so no, I decided it would be more stressful than helpful to attempt…especially with a “belated” start. Naturally dodged the recommended “avoids,” and genuinely tried to get more protein “down.” Nitrates I know are oft-verboten, but I craved gas station hot dogs (yes, the spin in the grease kind), and relented often. Since that was an a-typical craving for me in a non-pregnant state….felt it must be one those “trust your body” motivations. (Doc okayed in moderation!) Ate a lot of double cheeseburgers as well…protein intake was a primary concern nutritionwise for me. Did eat a great deal of dairy, too….always felt like the preggers Lucy Ricardo when I did! If I had to define the “diet” I followed, I’d have to say I went with the “Go With Your Gut” diet! Our kids were slightly small for their gestation, but both were breathing well and did great from the get-go, requiring no NICU time at all…nursery gen pop right away! With the benefit of time, we now know our “smaller” baby, our daughter is simply DNA destined — as opposed to prematurity/prenatally predisposed due to diet — to be small/svelte. She’s been a 3% weight curve girl and just now at age six rose to the 10%. Nuts and tofu were big satisfiers for me, as were yogurt, ice cream and homemade milkshakes and smoothies. If you are finding a craving a true craving (a palpable compulsion as opposed to “Hey, I can have 70 cookies, I’m pregnant!”), so long as it poses no danger (ask the OB-GYN), I’d go with it!

American Wife – Stats: Gained about 50 pounds, delivered at 37 weeks exactly, baby weights were 5lb7oz and 4lb14oz (no NICU!)

I don’t even know who [Dr. Luke] is! I did not avoid eating anything, unless it made me physically sick! I couldn’t drink coffee, or eat any fish that I cooked (yet I could eat cooked fish from a restaurant, as well as sushi). I tried to work in lots of Omega 3’s, so I used the Smart Balance PB, and ground flaxseed (which can go into almost anything). Also when I made mac n cheese, I used cottage cheese instead of milk for extra protein. My advice is to mix proteins and fruits! Cheddar cheese & Granny smith apples! Peaches & Fresh mozzarella with a little bit of balsamic (MY FAVORITE!). Salads with walnuts/pine nuts, fruits (mandarin oranges are good), and dark leafy lettuces/spinach with balsamic dressing. Another thing I did was to make smoothies using frozen and/or fresh fruit and either yogurt, soymilk, or sometimes tofu. I got lots of recipes from vegfamily. Here’s a decent guide to some foods that have important vitamins. A few more suggestions. Oh, also don’t eat an entire quart of Dulce De Leche by Hagen Daas in ten minutes, trust me. It tastes great going down, but coming up….
From the archives: How I got off to a really bad start.

LauraC – Stats: Gained 54lbs, delivered at 36w3d, baby weights were 6lb3oz and 6lb1oz.

Dr Luke book: YES. I read it the day after I found it was twins (18 weeks) and followed it to a T. I ate 100g+ of protein every day and 4000-5000 cals a day, as directed in the book. I avoided anything that made me vomit (eggs, soy, nuts, beans). And I generally gave in to real cravings. I was a vegetarian for 10 years before getting pregnant. Every form of vegetarian protein made me instantly vomit for the length of my pregnancy. I made the decision that the health/growth of my boys was more important than my reasons for being vegetarian and started eating meat. You CAN have a vegetarian twin pregnancy but I would recommend reading nutrition labels to get accurate protein counts. The book “Your Vegetarian Pregnancy” was helpful to me too until my m/s got so bad. The only special thing you would need to watch is your iron level. You should talk to your doctor about that.

CarrieinAK – Stats: Gained 65-70lbs, delivered at 36 weeks, baby weights were 4lb11oz and 5lb6oz

I am not sure of the nutritional guidelines in the Dr. Luke book (I didn’t read it). I just tried to aim for about 3,500 calories a day (more than likely I ate around 4,000 calories), with around 75-100 g of protein…and a helluva lot of agua. I ate a lot of homemade egg salad, bean burritos and cottage cheese. I was a vegetarian for 28 1/2 years (raised that way), until I got pregnant and started eating chicken a couple of times a month. My body craved it. I did avoid soft cheeses, etc…all the usual guidelines. And I’d never had fish before, so sushi wasn’t an issue. Kids were born at 36 weeks (exactly) and they weighed 4 lbs, 11 oz. and 5 lbs, 6 oz. Reid had been diagnosed with IUGR, but once they were “out”, their weights were way different than the ultrasound said they were.

Krissy – Stats: Gained 49lbs, delivered at 39 weeks, baby weights were 7lb12oz and 6lb12oz.

I have to say that I didn’t count calories at all, but I did try to follow the basic March of Dimes guideline (24lbs by 24 weeks gestation.) I had major adversions to most healthy foods…could barely choke down a salad, which I typically adore. I tried to eat nutritious foods, but I definitely ate more high calorie crap than I ever had in my life. I avoided the usual stuff (soft cheese, fish, etc.) and avoided most artificial sweetners.

Cynthia – Stats: Gained 40-45lbs, delivered at 34w5d, baby weights were 5lb11oz and 5lb2oz.

I read the book cover to cover and then put it away. I applied some of the general concepts to my eating/shopping/cooking routines but I did not take the book out and try to follow verbatim. I avoided the soft cheeses, sushi and (obviously) alcohol and caffeine. Although I did have the occasional glass of red wine or cup of half-caf coffee to hold off a migraine. My concern was protein (see below) but I also just tried to eat veggies at every turn. Thankfully I enjoy them so it wasn’t too hard. I was not a vegetarian by choice. However, with pregnancy I tend to develop a severe aversion to meat (gag reflex and all). Particularly chicken, but pork and beef as well. I was religious about drinking high-protein Boost shakes (chocolate, of course) 3 times per day. My twins were misdiagnosed mono-mono until 23 weeks. I had read on the monoamniotic.org website about mommies drinking Boost or Ensure so I just started. Once I found out they were mono-di, I was still worried about TTTS and knew that Dr Delia (sp?) recommended protein shakes for those diagnosed. I figured if it helped once diagnosed, perhaps it would help to do proactively. At the end I felt so big that I was struggling to get in enough of anything (good or bad) during the day and I felt like the Boost helped me with the calories in that regard. I did put them in the blender with fudge swirl ice-cream somewhere around 30 weeks. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right? :-)

Rebecca – Stats: gained 38lbs, delivered at 36w2d, baby weights were 6lb6oz and 5lb15oz.

So, no, really didn’t follow the Barbara Luke book. My weight gain got quicker towards the end. I had at least 2 weeks where I gained 4 lbs a week, which I think is what the Luke book doesn’t want you to do. Don’t they think you should do the weight gain pre-20 weeks? No NICU time. Roomed in and came home with us. Oh, I also had a really easy pregnancy—no blood pressure issues or sciatica or diabetes or anything. Or preterm labor–just my water breaking. I avoided unpasturized stuff, alcohol, all but one serving of caffeine a day, sushi, undercooked meats, cold cuts. Hmm, can’t remember if there was anything else. I tried to eat more protein than usual. I’m not a real big meat eater, so I tried to get chicken on salads, eat more cereal (for milk), yogurt, even some of the South beach diet bars, which have extra protein. I was also focused on avoiding empty calories, so I cut out crackers and cookies and stuff, for the most part, after the first trimester (first trimester, goldfish crackers were my friend).

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4 thoughts on “Ask the Moms, part 2 – Pregnancy nutrition”

  1. Thanks a ton ladies !!! Really appreciate all your responses. I have been a vegetarian since birth…but i do manage to eat lot of lentils, beans and grains and a lot of dairy. But iam sure it is no where near what Dr.Luke recommended….but the babies are growing just fine.

  2. I gained 38pounds total. Delivered vaginally 2 days before 38 weeks.
    Weights were 6pounds 6 ounces & 5 pounds – and no NICU.

    I read the book – but knew there was no way I could eat as many calories as stated. I ate what I craved – your body knows best! I also ate lots of ice cream in the summer.

    Babes are now 6months – and I’m still breastfeeding. I was actually hungrier in early breastfeeding than when I was prego.

    Best word of advice – listen to your body!

  3. I have Dr. Luke’s book, and I think some of the women who said they didn’t follow it may have confused it with other books. It specifically says to not count out fast food (it’s a great way to get protein and calories) that now’s the time to eat premium ice cream (yay, no more low-fat!) and that moderate amounts of caffeine are OK. That’s one of the reasons I like the book, it’s so much more reasonable than a lot of other books out there. It is hard to eat all of the food she recommends, but the guidelines help me to remember to drink more milk and eat more protein. I usually ate just a light breakfast (bowl of cereal or yogurt) and now I make sure to have protein and fruit with breakfast. I’m only 14 weeks, and this is my first (viable) pregnancy, so the advice has helped me lots. Besides the nutrition guidelines, it really has helped me understand my options when it comes to the birth. It even shows different “holds” for breast feeding twins (I am a complete novice when it comes to babies, so I really need the advice!!)Also, after reading the book I made a real effort to find a doctor who specializes in twins (my first doctor had an attitude of “it’s just like one, but it’s two, nothing special needed.) I find the book very helpful.

  4. I gained 35 pounds and delivered at 32 weeks and 4 days. My babies were 3 pounds 3 ounces and 4 pounds 7 ounces. I did read Dr. Luke’s book and think her advice is worthwhile! I wish I could have gained more weight so my little guys were bigger at birth. Early significant weight gain is truly important, especially if delivery of your precious twins comes earlier than expected.

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