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Health & Pregnancy

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Eating (Well) for Two

Eating (Well) For Two

A Pregnant Pause on Thinness continued...

If you are either under- or overweight, make sure you've discussed with your doctor or midwife an appropriate weight range to target. Women who start out underweight will probably have to gain more than the average mom-to-be, and those who weigh too much may be advised to gain less, in addition to being monitored for associated problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. If you're carrying twins, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a weight gain of 45 pounds.

Don't get too hung up over every pound, though. "To me, the scale is not the end point," says Puls, who practices with two obstetricians. "The scale is an indicator, and if it's going up too fast then you have to look at nutrition and exercise. If it's not going up fast enough, then you need to look at nutrition. I don't use the scale to say, 'Oh, you gained too much' or 'Oh, you gained too little.'"

And remember: You can get your figure back; it just might take a year to lose all the weight and to regain muscle tone, Ward says. Within six weeks, you'll probably lose 15 to 20 pounds (from the baby, placenta, extra blood volume and fluids), although if you breast-feed, those last pounds may linger until you've weaned your baby. Milk production requires about 800 calories a day, with only about 300 available from stored fat. That's 500 extra calories derived from your diet -- 200 more than you needed while pregnant.

Foods With an Rx

The term "comfort food" takes on a whole new meaning when you're pregnant, since certain foods or eating habits can actually help ward off some of the aches and pains of pregnancy. To quell morning sickness, heartburn and indigestion, eat small, frequent meals with bland starches, such as rice, bread or pasta, and avoid greasy or spicy foods. Herbal teas, like ginger root and lemon herb, can soothe your stomach, as can antacids, which also are a source of calcium.

Experts advise women to consult their doctor or midwife -- and find a reputable herbalist -- before using herbs while you're pregnant. Although they're natural, not all of them are harmless. Some may cause allergic reactions, and some may even be harmful to your growing fetus, especially those that act as strong laxatives or promote uterine contractions. Puls often recommends Susun Weed's "Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year" for information on herbs that can be used during pregnancy.

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