It's natural that your caloric needs increase when you're pregnant. And when you're pregnant with twins or multiples, that need jumps even higher. Many moms-to-be carrying twins worry about whether they should be eating differently than women pregnant with a single child. Follow a few simple guidelines, however, and check in with your obstetrician regularly to be sure you're eating properly.
Suggested Daily Calorie Intake
Women pregnant with twins should take in about 600 more calories per day than their normal pre-pregnancy diet, or about 2,700 total, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Later in your pregnancy, you may have to eat several small meals a day to meet this caloric demand, as your stomach will be crowded out by your growing babies.
Suggested Weight Gain Targets
The average weight gain throughout the course of your twin pregnancy should be from 35 to 45 lbs. This weight not only accounts for your babies but also the amniotic fluid, your increased blood volume and extra tissue in your breasts and uterus. Weight gain should be steady, and your obstetrician will probably closely monitor your progress. Rapid weight gain, especially associated with fluid retention and blood pressure changes, can be signs of a serious pregnancy complication known as pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is more common in twin pregnancies and requires immediate medical intervention.
Twin Pregnancy Nutrition Guidelines
"What To Expect" recommends that twin moms-to-be pay special attention to their protein intake: "Eating ample amounts may help prevent pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and preterm labor (all more common in multiple pregnancies)." It also helps build both your tissues and your babies' bodies. Iron is another important nutrient for women pregnant with multiples. With your increased blood volume, it's easier to become anemic. Magnesium and calcium can help keep up your bone strength as well as help build your babies'. A high-fiber diet can help ease pregnancy-related constipation.
Good Foods for a Twin Pregnancy
To get the extra protein you need, eat lean meats -- chicken, beef, turkey or pork, as you prefer. Red meat will also provide an extra dose of iron. Dairy products also provide a high dose of protein, so consider yogurt, cottage cheese and milk. Tofu and nuts are also protein sources. "What To Expect" also suggests adding a spoonful of powdered milk or other protein powders to your morning smoothie or bowl of oatmeal. For fiber, snack on dried fruit. Leafy greens such as spinach provide a variety of nutrients that you need during pregnancy. Drink lots of water, too. It can be hard to do when you already have to go to the bathroom all the time, but all of those extra body fluids mean you need to drink more than before. Dehydration can lead to pre-term labor.
Foods to Avoid
There are no foods specific to twin pregnancies that you should avoid, but follow the dietary guidelines set by your obstetrician. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as well as unpasteurized soft cheeses, sushi and other raw meats, raw eggs and certain fresh fish likely to be contaminated with mercury.