My Pregnancy Journey Part Three: Second & Third Trimester

With the first trimester finally behind us, both Wade and I could breathe a sigh of relief. The breakfast sandwich and spaghetti with meat sauce cravings had slowly diminished, as had the nausea and projectile vomiting.

I was finally starting to feel somewhat normal again around the 14 week mark, craving vegetables and healthy foods, getting back to my workouts, and feeling like my old self again. Pheuf! My little bloated belly actually started to look like a mini baby bump, and both of us were really starting to wrap our heads around not one, but two babies at the end of all of this.

Our second ultrasound was scheduled for February 15th; after this ultrasound, we would know our babies’ genders! Up until this point, I was CONVINCED we were having at least one girl, if not two. Based on my first trimester symptoms and old wives tales regarding baby girls and nausea, I was quite certain we would have one of each. Statistically, having a boy and a girl for a fraternal twin pregnancy is the most likely outcome. Boy was I wrong (no pun intended!).

We had some fun with our families and clients, and got each of them to submit their gender predictions; nearly 80% guessed boy and girl, while only a handful of people (Wade included!) guessed two boys.

After that visit to my obstetrician’s office on February 15th, she wrote down their genders on a piece of paper, folded it up tightly, and said “no peeking!” Oh how I wanted to unfold that little slip of paper immediately after I left her office, but I refrained from doing so. The next day, I handed over “the goods” to one of our clients, who bakes specialty cakes and pastries in her free time. She offered to bake us two gender reveal cakes, for a momentous cake cutting the following week. The anticipation was killing both of us – it felt like the longest week ever!

Finally, after six long days of eagerly waiting for our babies’ gender reveal, Wade picked up the two cakes on his way home from work, and we invited all of our parents to tune in for the cake cutting on zoom. I cut the first cake; a big ol’ slice of bright blue! It’s a boy! Okay, so the next cake MUST be pink. Or so I thought! I handed over the knife to Wade, certain it would be covered in pink filling upon insertion. Wrong again! It’s….another BOY!!! OH. MY. GOD. Wade laughed and exclaimed “see, I told you so!” Once again, my jaw dropped, legs felt heavy, palms sweaty, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it; two boys! We cheered, laughed, ate some delicious blue cake, and didn’t sleep a wink that night after all the excitement.

At this point in my pregnancy, I was back to cooking and eating nutrient dense meals, and exercising regularly. It pains me to say that so many women use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever they want; proper nutrition during pregnancy is SO pivotal for not only the health and development of the baby, but also for the mother. Sure, treats are fine in small doses, but that doesn’t mean ice cream should become a staple during this time. Gestational diabetes is far too common, and in most cases, preventable through proper nutrition and exercise.

While my nutrition approach (whole foods including complex carbs, lots of fiber, high quality protein sources, and healthy fats) didn’t change a whole lot during pregnancy, I did increase my red meat consumption (grass fed, organic of course!), and upped my calorie intake. Yes, you do need more calories during pregnancy; approximately 300-400 extra per baby. My daily calorie goal was roughly 3000, give or take a couple hundred depending on the day. Remember that everyone is different and has unique nutritional requirements, and this approach worked well for my body and my babies. Always listen to your body for what it needs at different phases of life; what works for one person may not work for the next! For example, I have a higher carbohydrate intake than most, but my body is a carb loving machine, and operates well with higher complex carbs (rice, sweet potato, oats, etc); I found this to be especially true during my pregnancy.

A typical day of eating during the second and third trimester looked like this: breakfast consisted of some kind of fruit (banana, orange, pear or apple) with a scoop of peanut butter, followed by oatmeal mixed with ground flax, shredded coconut, hemp hearts, and some nuts. One trick to sneak more protein into breakfast? Mix egg whites into your oatmeal while it’s cooking; you don’t taste them, and they blend nicely for an added source of protein! Some days, I’d have two fried eggs, a couple slices of sourdough toast, ½ an avocado, and some sauteed greens (kale, spinach, or arugula) in coconut oil instead, to switch it up. Snacks consisted of cut up veggies and hummus, seaweed (iodine is beneficial during pregnancy!), Mary’s crackers, or fruit and yogurt.

 

Lunch and dinner typically consisted of a mix of protein (fish, chicken, beef, tofu, tempeh, legumes), complex carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, quinoa, pasta), and a bunch of veggies. When it comes to veggies, variety is key to support a healthy gut microbiome, during pregnancy and otherwise!

Believe it or not, I even started incorporating liver into my diet. I know what you’re thinking – how could the organ that stores toxins be healthy?! Well, that is a common misconception. Liver neutralizes and eliminates toxins from the body, while it stores important vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin A, D, E, K, B12, and iron (amongst others!), all which are extremely beneficial during pregnancy. It’s one of those lesser talked about superfoods, with incredibly powerful benefits. As with all meat/organ meat, it’s important to focus on quality ie. grass fed, and certified organic. We bought our liver from a local farm, ground it up, froze it in an ice cube tray, and took out little cubes as needed. Sneak it into ground beef, and you can’t even taste it, but reap all the benefits!

Low iron is common among women, endurance athletes (my ferritin count dropped to 9 after my ultramarathon a few years back!) and even more common during pregnancy. So why is it SO important to incorporate iron rich foods and/or supplement with it while growing a baby? Iron is necessary to support the extra blood volume, the placenta, and the developing fetus. In my case it was even MORE crucial to supplement and eat foods like beef liver and mussels given the demands of growing two babies. I will continue to supplement postpartum, to support breastfeeding demands, energy, and milk production! So mamas, stay on top of your iron intake – you’ll thank me later! If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’ll most definitely want to supplement.

My exercise routine during the second and third trimester consisted of walks/hikes with Millie (our sweet pup) most days, as well as strength training 3-4x per week. I definitely wasn’t lifting anywhere near my max, but was still able to do most lifts (including deadlifts!) up until about 30 weeks. Strength training in particular is SO important for maintaining a healthy weight, lowering your risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, improving your mood and body image, preventing low back pain, and gearing up for the greatest marathon of them all – labor and birth! Someone once said to me, “why wouldn’t we train for the hardest thing we’ll ever have to go through!?” So true! Plus, if I don’t workout, my sleep sucks. Plain and simple! Movement is medicine, and a strong body is a resilient body!

Low iron is common among women, endurance athletes (my ferritin count dropped to 9 after my ultramarathon a few years back!) and even more common during pregnancy. So why is it SO important to incorporate iron rich foods and/or supplement with it while growing a baby? Iron is necessary to support the extra blood volume, the placenta, and the developing fetus. In my case it was even MORE crucial to supplement and eat foods like beef liver and mussels given the demands of growing two babies. I will continue to supplement postpartum, to support breastfeeding demands, energy, and milk production! So mamas, stay on top of your iron intake – you’ll thank me later! If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’ll most definitely want to supplement.

My exercise routine during the second and third trimester consisted of walks/hikes with Millie (our sweet pup) most days, as well as strength training 3-4x per week. I definitely wasn’t lifting anywhere near my max, but was still able to do most lifts (including deadlifts!) up until about 30 weeks. Strength training in particular is SO important for maintaining a healthy weight, lowering your risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, improving your mood and body image, preventing low back pain, and gearing up for the greatest marathon of them all – labor and birth! Someone once said to me, “why wouldn’t we train for the hardest thing we’ll ever have to go through!?” So true! Plus, if I don’t workout, my sleep sucks. Plain and simple! Movement is medicine, and a strong body is a resilient body!