Pregnancy & Parenting
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What does baby really need? Protein, carbs, calories?


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I am in my 32nd week right now and doctor has been concerned b/c I haven't been putting on any weight since around the beginning of the second trimester.  I put on about 10 pounds during the first trimester, then gained a couple more in the second, putting my net gain at about 13 pounds so far.  I was swimming every day for about 30-40 minutes (i got my heart rate up, but wasn't pushing myself terribly).  I had an u/s that showed the baby was a little behind in growth-- by about half a week or so, and hovering right at the 10-11thpercentile on the weight charts...  Doctor said from here on out no exercise and try to add in more protein and calories (I was at about 2000 a day and 50-80g of protein daily).  I have some digestive problems and tend to get really gassy and bloated when I eat a lot, so it's been hard for me to pack in much in terms of extra calories, but so far I've been able to eat 2,000 a day with no problem.   Much more than that I begin feel awful...

My question is, if I am unable to add in a lot more than that, is protein what is most important?  Will baby be able to develop and grow properly if I'm eating 2000 calories a day and 80-100 grams of protein daily?  OR is it really the total calories that is important...in other words, will the baby have a hard time with growth even with all that protein, if I'm not eating much excess calories?  

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Also, fyi, I starting out with a regular bmi ( a bit on the heavy side of normal for 5'4'')-- so the "expected gain" is 25-35 pounds.  But right now I've already definitely packed on some extra fatty tissue for baby and just don't see myself needing that much more of "me".  Will baby get all she needs from my eating lots of good protein?

Your baby needs fat just as much as it may need protein. "it" also just needs you to eat enough calories so that there are enough to be used for the development of the fetus.

So it's a combination of all.

Protein, carbs, fat, and calories.  Fat is absolutely necessary, and eating enough fat will help you get more calories without feeling stuffed.

thanks amethyst girl and armandouc-- I suppose this makes complete sense-- babies are just like all of us, needing a bit of everything.

Baby needs you to eat more calories! I think 2000 is too low for 3rd trimester. you should be eating 200-500 calories more a day than before you got pregnant, AND offsetting any excecise you do.

Now you should be doing no excercise as your doctor suggested, and maybe upping that 200-500 to somewhere around 700 just to make sure baby gets enough.

Try eating calorie dense foods like nuts and dates to add those extra calories.

Women need an extra 300 calories daily (above and beyond maintenance) during the third trimester.

Of course you've gained fat tissue. You're supposed to:

Weight distribution in the average [pregnant] woman:

  • 7 1/2 pounds is about how much the baby will weigh by the end of pregnancy.
  • 1 1/2 pounds is how much the placenta weighs.
  • 4 pounds is attributed to increased fluid volume.
  • 2 pounds is the weight of the uterus.
  • 2 pounds is the weight of breast tissue.
  • 4 pounds is because of increased blood volume.
  • 7 pounds is attributed to maternal stores of fat, protein and other nutrients.
  • 2 pounds for the amniotic fluid.
  • Total: 30 pounds

Edit: If you haven't gained weight since the beginning of the second trimester and your doctors are concerned about baby's growth then it's pretty safe to assume you're not eating enough. If you have digestive issues when you eat too much, try eating smaller meals/snacks every hour or two. You can even drink your calories (milk, 100% juice, smoothies) if it's easier.

Edit 2: According to this calculator for pregnant women, you should probably be eating more like 2,700 calories a day during the third trimester. I did have to guess your age and weight but it should be pretty close.

Original Post by bierorama:

Women need an extra 300 calories daily (above and beyond maintenance) during the third trimester.

I think the bolded is especially important to remember.

Many of us on calorie count are eating at some level of deficit. So when a book/website/doctor recommends to eat 300 more than you did "before you were pregnant", it assumes you were maintaining before pregnancy.

For someone who was trying to lose weight, eating 300 extra could still be a deficit. If you've been keeping a 500-cal deficit, you'd need to eat 800 more calories than you are used to to get that 300-cal surplus.

Perhaps keeping your exertion down, but 'don't do any exercise' just sits totally wrong with me. Keeping active is known to help an easier birth, and gentle swimming should help with back pain and alignment problems.
Have you considered a food supplement if you can't fit in enough? Like sipping on a meal replacement drinks during the day?

pubcat-- yes, dr. suggested boost or some such thing.  I prefer to eat "real" food but if baby doesn't show better growth with the upcoming ultrasound I'm going to have to supplement with something else because I just can't shove down MORE peanut butter, greek yogurt and the like.  I really think the problem with the exercise was the exertion factor, not the swimming itself, and you're right...it would be good to do some light swimming.  If baby is coming along well next time, I'm going to add in some walking, just for my sanity as much as anything.  good advice...

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