Are you wondering about how to ensure a healthy twin pregnancy diet?
While your body does need extra nutrition while you are growing two babies, unfortunately it doesn’t mean that you need to eat two of every meal, or enjoy a double helping of dessert for that matter! Instead of focusing on extra calories, focus on calories that matter.
As we discussed in our article Weight Gain During Twin Pregnancy, there is a healthy amount of weight that you should gain during your pregnancy. Your twin pregnancy diet should help you stay within that range.
So, let’s look at the nutrition behind achieving a happy pregnancy, with a healthy amount of weight gain to keep both you and those precious babies nourished.
Maintaining a Healthy Twin Pregnancy Diet
Everyone should eat a balanced diet, but this is especially important during a twin pregnancy. To maintain your own health and the health of your babies you need protein to help build cells, carbohydrates for energy, iron to combat anemia, calcium to fortify your bones and your babies, and folic acid to defeat birth defects.
It is recommended that you will need to consume around 300 extra calories per baby so for you mama, that means 600 per day. That is the equivalent of an extra main meal per day or two extra snacks. If you already have a healthy diet, then this calorie increase might be the only change you need to make to your twin pregnancy diet. But if your pre-pregnancy diet was not so great, now is the time to make the changes.
Variety is the best way to ensure you are getting the vitamins and minerals you need. So include the following food groups in your diet…
For Energy: Complex Carbs
Complex carbohydrates give your body the slow release energy it needs to last between meals. They are more wholesome than processed carbohydrates, so they take longer for your body to digest. That keeps you fuller for longer. You need energy to help get you through the day, but also to keep your babies growing as they should.
Complex carbs are also full of fibre, which helps with your digestion and prevents constipation (an all too real issue for many pregnant women).
Foods To Eat: Fruits, Veggies, Whole Grains – oats, brown rice, wheat bread and pasta
For Building Blood: Protein and Iron
During pregnancy, you have an increased volume of blood to supply not only your body, but your babies’ as well so this is especially true for a twin pregnancy.
Protein drives blood production, so you will want to include a healthy amount of it in your twin pregnancy diet. Your body has an easier time absorbing proteins that contain iron, so make sure you include these. You also want to choose healthy proteins that are low in fat.
One of the biggest food groups to contain protein is lean meat. So if you are vegan or a vegetarian, make sure you check with your doctor to see you are getting enough protein in your diet.
Foods To Eat: Lean meats, Poultry, Fish, Tofu, Beans, Nuts, Egg whites.
For Bones: Calcium
It is important to get plenty of calcium during your pregnancy as it support strong bones and teeth, as well as muscle function. That is not only for you, but for your growing babies. There are plenty of natural sources of calcium, but some products have added calcium for an extra boost. Make sure you read the labels of any foods you are considering.
Foods To Eat: Dairy products (yoghurt, milk, cheese), Dark leafy green vegetables, Calcium fortified cereals, breads and drinks.
For Growth: Healthy Fats
Not all fats are bad. You need a certain amount of fat in your diet to remain healthy. But you just need to make sure that you are choosing the the right kind of fats. You want to avoid saturated fats.
Foods To Eat: Vegetable Oils, Olive Oils, Avocado
To get the right balance of nutrition in your day it is recommended that you eat 5 meals. So that is your three main meals and some snacks. Snacks are normally the department where we fall down and choose options that are not so healthy!
While it is alright to have a treat, it should remain as a treat and not an everyday inclusion to your diet. Avoid having too many salty snacks as they can cause you to retain water, bloat and increase your blood pressure. Snacks that include too much sugar can keep you feeling too full for proper healthy food.
Choose some of these items for healthy snacking:
- Trail Mix
- Raisin Bran
- Veggie Sticks with hummus (beware hummus that contains tahini, you might choose to make your own at home)
- Peanut Butter on Wholegrain toast
Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy
There are some foods that have an increased risk of listeria – a bacteria that can cause listeriosis. This is a very serious infection that can be transmitted to your unborn babies and cause miscarriage, infection, or stillbirth.
Avoid eating these foods that carry a higher risk of listeria…
- Raw meat
- Deli meats and salads
- Fish with mercury (check what is in your sushi before you eat it)
- Smoked seafood
- Raw shellfish
- Raw eggs
- Soft cheeses
- Unpasturised milk
- Unwashed vegetables
You should also avoid too much caffeine and should never consume alcohol during your pregnancy, it’s just not worth the damage you can do to your babies developing brains.
At first there can seem like there are a lot of rules when it comes to twin pregnancy nutrition. But the basic rules are to eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid foods that could contain listeria. If you have any concerns about your diet or nutrition, then consult your LMC.