Twin Pregnancy Diet: How to Eat For Three

  • By: Sandra
  • Date: March 18, 2022
  • Time to read: 13 min.

It’s not easy being pregnant with twins. You have to eat for three, try to get enough sleep, and take care of your other children. Sometimes you might feel like the only one who is getting any attention in your family!

But even if it feels that way sometimes, soon you will be holding two little bundles of joy in your arms. If there are some things that are giving you trouble now or concern about what to expect during twin pregnancy, then this blog post will help answer all those questions and more. We’ll discuss how to eat for three when having twins plus some important topics on what type of food is safe for pregnant women with multiple fetuses as well as tips on how to make eating easier while carrying multiples.

What are the best foods to eat while pregnant? Moms-to-be should focus on eating a well-balanced diet that includes proteins, calcium, and iron. This article lists 11 of the most important things you need to know about your pregnancy diet.

Maintain A Healthy Diet During Twin Pregnancy

Low birth weight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces at term) and premature delivery are the two serious complications facing moms expecting twins. Yet expectant mothers who have a proper diet end up with babies who weigh more overall. It is recommended that a twin mom eat an extra 600 calories per day.

Unfortunately, while your body does require additional nutrients while you are pregnant with and raising two children, this does not imply that you should eat two portions of every meal or that you should indulge in a second helping of dessert! Instead of concentrating on excess calories, concentrate on calories that are important.

It’s possible that this calorie increase will be the only change you need to make to your twin pregnancy diet if you currently eat a healthy diet. However, if your pre-pregnancy diet was less than ideal, now is the time to make the necessary adjustments.

Protein is required to maintain your own health and the health of your children. Carbohydrates are required for energy, iron is required to combat anemia, calcium is required to fortify your bones and the bones of your children, and folic acid is required to prevent birth defects.

Since the birth weight of twins is an important indicator in predicting their future mental and physical health, it’s extremely important for you to eat well. A visit to a nutritionist who specializes in high-risk pregnancies can help mothers-to-be with poor eating habits streamline their diets. The first priority of any mom expecting twins should be sound nutrition.

“I was vigilant about eating a lot and eating often. I kept a journal of what I had eaten so that I could make sure my eating was well balanced. For example, when it was time for a snack, I would look to see what I had eaten that day. If, say, I was low on dairy, then I would have some cheese. At the end of the day my goal was to have eaten plenty of protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and carbs.” (This mom delivered at Week 38, and her twins weighed 5 pounds 4 ounces and 6 pounds 7 ounces.)

How to Help Avoid Low Birth Weight Through a Proper Diet

Eat up! That’s right, you heard me! After reading page after page of what’s out of your control during these next nine months, diet is finally the one aspect where you have total control. You can greatly improve your chances of delivering plump, healthy babies just by what and how much you eat. And there’s plenty of research these days to back the claim.

Reports show that a maternal weight gain of 40 to 45 pounds results in twins averaging 5 pounds 8 ounces (2,500 grams) each. Furthermore, the timing of that weight gain is important, too. Gaining the majority of the pounds early in pregnancy—41 pounds by Week 28—has the strongest impact on babies’ weight at birth. Researchers believe that higher weight gain earlier in pregnancy aids in the development and function of the placenta.

For most women, packing it on during the first half of pregnancy will come as a treat since they find themselves in a constant state of hunger. (I found myself stopping for a hamburger often while driving home from work at four o’clock!) Once again, it’s Mother Nature’s way of stockpiling all those extra calories and fat to use for your babies in the weeks ahead.

How Much Do You Need to Eat?

While a mother expecting a singleton should consume about 2,300 calories and 80 grams of protein a day, a woman carrying twins needs between 3,000 and 3,500 calories and at least 130 grams of protein (one twin researcher advocates 170 grams of protein a day).

You can use a chart to track your intake. While it may seem like an incredible goal to reach, the extra calories and protein required are easily met with just a little more than an additional quart of milk a day!

“I didn’t realize until later in my pregnancy how important it was to gain extra weight with twins. I got that information from Internet research, not from my doctor. I only gained 30 pounds, but I only got to Week 31!”

Types of Food Needed for a Healthy Pregnancy

The following are merely diet highlights. Consult your physician or nutritionist about dietary recommendations.

Protein

The amino acids found in protein are essential in building cells and vital in the growth and development of fetal heart, brain, tissue, and muscle. Lack of adequate protein during pregnancy appears to be strongly connected to low birth weight.

Clinical studies found that when a mother consumed 80 grams or more of protein per day, her baby would weigh at least 6 pounds at birth. Conversely, when a woman ate less than 45 grams of protein daily, her baby had a 47 percent chance of weighing less than 5.5 pounds.

With every additional 10 grams of protein (up to 100 grams per day), the baby’s weight would increase by one-half pound at birth. (These statistics are for a singleton pregnancy.)

Meat, fish, dairy, nuts, and legumes offer the best sources of complete protein. Choose sources with a high ratio of protein to fat—in other words, eat broiled fish and skinless chicken instead of fatty or fried meat.

Strict vegetarians who abstain from meat products should combine protein sources like legumes with whole grains and nuts to obtain complete protein. A protein-rich diet for the vegetarian should also include an abundance of soy products (soy milk, soy yogurt, and tofu).

FOODS HIGH IN PROTEIN

(amounts of protein per serving are averages)

Beef, chicken, liver, pork, turkey . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 oz.: 21 grams

Salmon, trout, shrimp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 4 oz.: 22 grams

Canned tuna . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 oz.: 28 grams

Cheddar cheese . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 oz.: 7 grams

Cottage cheese. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 oz.: 19 grams

Eggs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..1 egg: 6 grams

Whole milk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 oz.: 8 grams

Powdered milk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 cup (dry): 25 grams

Yogurt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 cup: 8 grams

Choosing Baby Names
Choosing Baby Names

Peanuts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 oz.: 30 grams

Peanut butter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/3 cup: 25 grams

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3½ oz.: 20 grams

Lima beans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 cup: 13 grams

Brown rice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 oz.: 14 grams

Oats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 oz.: 12 grams

Spaghetti . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 oz.: 12 grams

Broccoli . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 cup: 5 grams

Spinach (cooked) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 cup: 5 grams

Corn (cooked) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 cup: 5 grams

How Much Protein Does a Mom Expecting Twins Need Each Day?

The amino acids found in protein are essential in building cells and vital in the growth and development of fetal heart, brain, tissue, and muscle. It’s what puts the weight on both you and subsequently your babies. A mom expecting twins should try to get at least 130 grams of protein each day. (Dr. Barbara Luke, author of When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy, 3rd Edition, recommends 176 grams!)

Furthermore, the research shows a strong and direct correlation between early maternal weight gain and strong fetal growth. According to new guidelines, a healthy mom pregnant with twins should gain between 37 – 54 pounds during her pregnancy with the biggest gains occurring during her first trimester. With that in mind, shoot for 3,100 calories a day in order to gain 24 pounds by Week 24.

This often results in each baby tipping the scales at 5 pounds 8 ounces or higher at birth. Researchers believe that early weight gain aids in the development and function of the placenta. Keeping a food diary will help you get the calories and grams of protein you’ll need to stay on track.

When planning your meals and snacks, think lean meat, chicken and fish (and, yes, the occasional fast-food hamburger is fine, too). Sardines are very high in protein, if you’re a fan, and so is tuna but you need to watch your intake of the latter due to mercury concerns. (Pregnant women should limit themselves to no more than 12 ounces of tuna per week, or two, six-ounce cans.)

Peanut butter and other legumes such as lentils and soybeans are very high in protein. And don’t forget nuts—almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pecans—they’re all high in protein. Pumpkin or sunflower seeds are high in protein, too, and make for great snacking throughout the day. Eggs and dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese are other good options as well. And don’t be afraid to treat yourself to a fast-food snack; just be smart about your choices.

Iron

During pregnancy your need for iron increases dramatically. Iron is essential in building hemoglobin (red blood cells), which transports oxygen in the blood. Toward the end of pregnancy, a baby’s need for iron rises significantly; and if a pregnant mom doesn’t maintain a sufficient level, she will develop anemia, a condition that may lead to pregnancy complications.

Iron is also important for a baby’s nutrition immediately following birth, and, therefore, it’s important to build up a supply prior to birth. In addition, it’s important to remember that premature babies are often born anemic—another reason to stock up while you can.

Eating iron-rich foods along with foods high in vitamin C will aid in the absorption of the mineral, raising its efficiency in the body. Most women will find it difficult to meet their daily iron requirement through diet alone, so often a physician will suggest taking iron supplements. Take the supplement between meals with a glass of fruit juice or water (avoid taking it with milk) to aid in its absorption.

FOODS HIGH IN IRON

(amounts of iron per serving are averages)

Beef . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 oz.: 2 mg

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

and other legumes (beans and peas) . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 cup: 4 mg

Clams. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 oz.: 10 mg

Dried fruit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 to 12: 5.5 mg

Raisins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ½ cup: 2.7 mg

Pumpkin seeds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¼ cup: 3 mg

Soy products (tofu, miso) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 cup: 26 mg

Spinach (cooked) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 cup: 4 mg

Wheat germ and other whole grains . . . . . . . . . . . . . ½ cup: 3.3 mg

Other foods high in iron:

Sardines

Sea vegetables (seaweed)

Artichokes

Calcium

If the thought of drinking four glasses of milk a day doesn’t turn you on, consider other sources of calcium like cheese, yogurt, almonds, sardines, tuna, salmon, and a variety of green leafy vegetables. Extra calcium is needed in a pregnant woman’s diet to aid in the development of fetal bones, teeth, heart, and nerves and to assist in blood clotting.

In addition, some studies indicate that extra calcium reduces the risk of preeclampsia. To aid in its absorption, avoid eating calcium-rich foods with caffeine or fibrous foods such as whole-grain products.

It is critical to consume lots of calcium during pregnant since it helps to maintain strong bones and teeth, as well as normal muscle function and contractions. That is not only for your benefit, but also for the benefit of your growing children. Although there are numerous natural sources of calcium, some goods have added calcium to give them an extra dose of calcium. Please make sure to carefully read the labels of any foods you are considering purchasing.

Folic Acid 

Folic acid, a B vitamin, is not only needed for baby’s growth and development and liver efficiency, but well-documented studies indicate that a diet deficient in folic acid may contribute to birth defects (such as cleft palate and spina bifida, a condition in which the spinal column doesn’t close completely) and low birth weight.

Raw green vegetables (parsley, cilantro, chicory, and dandelion leaves), whole-grain breads, citrus fruits, and legumes all contain high concentrations of folic acid. Many foods rich in iron and protein also contain folic acid.

Complex Carbs

Complex carbs provide your body with the sustained energy it requires to keep you going between meals. Because they are more nutritious than refined carbohydrates, they take longer for your body to absorb. This allows you to feel fuller for a longer period of time. You require energy not only to carry you through the day, but also to ensure that your children continue to grow at their normal rates.

Carbohydrates that are complex in nature are also high in fiber, which aids digestion and prevents constipation (an all too real issue for many pregnant women especially those taking iron supplements!).

Fruits and vegetables, whole grains (oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread, and pasta), and legumes are all good choices.

Salt and Healthy Fats 

It used to be that a pregnant woman was put on a low-salt diet, but these days a moderate amount of salt is not only considered safe but encouraged. And while a diet for a woman carrying multiples may appear to be high in fat, fat is important in the absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Don’t shy away from dairy products because of high fat content—enjoy! Not all fats are created equal. To maintain good health, you must consume a particular quantity of fat in your diet. However, you must be certain that you are consuming the appropriate kind of fats in your diet. Saturated fats should be avoided at all costs.

Vitamin Supplements

Taking a prenatal vitamin every day doesn’t mean you can skip a meal—it simply offers insurance that every essential vitamin and mineral requirement is covered. Some women carrying twins will be advised by their physicians to take several kinds of supplements (iron, calcium, and so on).

Tips on Gaining Enough Weight

Pregnancy is no time to start a diet, but for some women, consuming more than 3,500 calories each day is the equivalent to standing on one foot while skateboarding—in short, a real challenge. Take mealtime seriously and consider the following tips to help put on the pounds.

  • Make every meal count. Plan your meals carefully, making sure you eat a wide range of healthy, fresh food with an emphasis on protein. Choose foods that are nutritious, given their calorie and fat content. Sour cream may seem like a delicious way to get a serving of dairy, but check the label—it offers little nutritional value. On the other hand, if you feel your diet is too high in fat, substituting low-fat cottage cheese or 1 percent milk is a better alternative than cutting it out completely.
  • Eat often. Eating several small meals each day instead of three large ones will keep your energy level high, offer a constant fl ow of nutrients to growing babies, and eliminate that uncomfortable “stuffed” feeling often associated with eating a large meal. Shoot for seven small meals a day—breakfast, midmorning snack, lunch, midafternoon snack, dinner, bedtime snack, and, finally, a potty-break-in-the-middle-of-the-night snack. (Have a small snack tray of fruit slices, cheese, or peanut butter and crackers by your bed so that when you get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, you can grab a quick bite.)
  • Increase dairy foods. Because they are high in protein, calcium, and calories, dairy foods are a quick answer to fulfilling extra caloric and protein requirements.
  • Drink liquids with calories. Substitute broths, fresh fruit juices, or milk for your eight glasses of water each day.
  • Bag it. Whether it’s a short trip to the supermarket or an afternoon drive in the country, be sure to keep a supply of nutritious snacks in the car, in your handbag, and in your office drawer. Never be without a secret stash of food!
  • Accessorize your food. Grated cheese or chopped roasted peanuts sprinkled on a salad add not only flavor but a nice little protein kick.
  • Disguise foods you dislike. Can’t stand eggs or milk? Hide them in delicious dishes like creamed soups, cream sauces, French toast, or even chocolate milk.

Healthy Snacks

It is recommended that you have 5 meals throughout the day in order to get the proper nutritional balance. So there you have it: your three big meals plus a couple of snacks. In most cases, it is in the sector of snacks that we make mistakes and choose unhealthy options.

While it is acceptable to indulge in a treat from time to time, it should be treated as such and not as a regular part of your diet. Avoid consuming an excessive amount of salty snacks because they can lead you to retain water, bloat, and raise your blood pressure levels. Snacks that include an excessive amount of sugar can make you feel too full to eat a proper nutritious meal.

Foods to Avoid During a Twin Pregnancy

Several foods are associated with an elevated risk of listeria – a bacterium that can cause listeriosis – contamination. This is an extremely serious infection that can be passed on to your unborn babies and result in miscarriage, infection, or stillbirth if not treated promptly.

Avoid consuming these items since they are associated with an increased risk of listeria…

Meat that has not been cooked
Salads and deli meats are available.
Fish contaminated with mercury (check what is in your sushi before you eat it)
Seafood that has been smoked
Raw shellfish is a delicacy in many cultures.
Eggs that have been left out overnight
Cheeses that are soft
Milk that has not been pasteurized
Vegetables that have not been washed

You should also avoid consuming excessive amounts of caffeine during your pregnancy; the harm you can do to your baby’s growing brain is simply not worth the risk.

Alcohol is yet another taboo that should be avoided during pregnancy. Regular drinkers during pregnancy are more likely to have children with fetal alcohol syndrome, a dangerous illness that causes mental impairment, development limitations, and other abnormalities in the developing child.