Of all the posts I've shared in the past (nearly) five years of business here at Magnetic North, few have received quite the response as this series. The reactions range from rejection of hard science based on an individual's opinion to hearty support from birth professionals I've never met. This means I struck a chord somewhere in the curiously provocative range which inspires me to continue.

Without further ado, part three in the series.


A pregnant woman should eat for two.

FALSE.

 

In an odd turn of events, What To Expect actually gets this one right! A 2002 Institute of Medicine study advises:

No additional calories for the first trimester, 340 kilocalories (per day) the second trimester, and 452 kilocalories (per day) for the third trimester.

That said, recommendations vary based on maternal BMI and pre-pregnancy nutritional status. It is also interesting to note:

Hytten (1980) estimated the energy cost of pregnancy to be 85,000 kcal.

That is the equivalent of 425 Larabars! Amazing. Good thing the preggo has ten months to eat that much extra food.

Also:

Energy requirements are greatest between 10 and 30 weeks of gestation, when relatively large quantities of maternal fat normally are deposited. Substantial fetal demands (56 kcal/kg per day) are offset in the last quarter of pregnancy by the near cessation of maternal fat storage (Sparks et al., 1980).

In an interesting parallel, premenstrual women have increased caloric needs that outstrip the increased caloric needs of their premenstrual peers. Check out this excerpt from a study on basal metabolic rates throughout a woman's menstrual cycle. In the premenstrual period, scientists found:

RMR was 0.99 +/- 0.16 kcal/kg/h. The energy expenditure while sitting was 1.06 times RMR, while walking it was 2.81 times RMR, and while performing treadmill exercise it was 3.47 times RMR.

This means that your increased interest in ALL THE FOOD is far more (metabolically) appropriate in the days preceding your period than it is during pregnancy. 

So next time someone shames you for how you eat or look, tell them to step off - and share a bit of hard science. After all, science is the most effective antidote to misogyny.

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