- What foods should I eat?
- Daily guidelines for eating healthy during pregnancy
- Are there foods that are harmful to eat during pregnancy?
- How much weight should I gain?
- Where does all the weight go?
- What if I am gaining too much weight?
- What if I am not gaining enough weight?
- What can I eat if I am not feeling well?
- Are cravings normal?
- Not Gaining Enough Weight
- Not Gaining Enough Weight During Pregnancy: 5 Tips to Get Back on Track
- More About Healthy Pregnancy Foods
- When you need to gain more weight during pregnancy
- Eating for Two When Over or Under Weight
- Why is weight gain important during pregnancy?
- Eating for Two: Where does all the extra weight go?
- How much total weight should I gain?
- At what rate should I gain weight during my pregnancy?
- What if I am carrying twins?
- Does being underweight pose any risks to me or my baby?
- Healthy Eating During Pregnancy:
- Can gaining too much weight be harmful?
- How does being obese affect my pregnancy?
Congratulations! You are now eating for you and your baby. While there are 2 of you now, you only need to increase your calorie intake by 500 calories. This guide will help you choose a variety of healthy foods for you and your baby to get all the nutrients you need.
What foods should I eat?
You will need an additional 200 to 300 extra calories from nutrient-dense foods such as lean meats, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grain products. It will be important to carefully consider the foods you consume during your pregnancy. This is a time to eat more foods that are nutrient-dense, and fewer sweets and treats. Eat a variety of foods. Use the website www.choosemyplate.gov as a guide to choose the amounts of foods in each food group.
Daily guidelines for eating healthy during pregnancy
- Calcium: Calcium is needed in the body to build strong bones and teeth. Calcium also allows the blood to clot normally, nerves to function properly, and the heart to beat normally. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day for pregnant and lactating (breastfeeding) women. Women 19 years or younger need 1,300 mg a day. Eat or drink 4 servings of dairy products or foods rich in calcium. Dairy products are the best source of calcium. Other sources of calcium are dark, leafy greens, fortified cereal, breads, fish, fortified orange juices, almonds and sesame seeds.
- Folic acid: Folic acid is used to make the extra blood your body needs during pregnancy. ACOG and the March of Dimes recommend 400 micrograms (mcg) per day for pregnant women. This amount is included in your prenatal vitamins. The March of Dimes suggests that 70% of all neural tube defects can be avoided with appropriate folic acid intake. Some women are at an increased risk for having a baby with an open neural tube defect (including but not limited to women with a family history of spina bifida, women on anti-epileptic medication, etc.). ACOG recommends additional folic acid for women at an increased risk for neural tube defect. Your doctor can discuss this with you and in some instances, refer you for genetic counseling to discuss further. Foods rich in folic acid include lentils, kidney beans, green leafy vegetables (spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, and broccoli), citrus fruits, nuts and beans. Folic acid is also added as a supplement to certain foods such as fortified breads, cereal, pasta, rice, and flours.
- Iron: Iron is an important part of red blood cells, which carry oxygen through the body. Iron will help you build resistance to stress and disease, as well as help you avoid tiredness, weakness, irritability, and depression. ACOG recommends you receive 27 total mg of iron a day between food and your prenatal vitamin. Good sources include whole grain products, lean beef and pork, dried fruit and beans, sardines and green leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin A: ACOG recommends you receive 770 mcg of Vitamin A daily. Foods rich in Vitamin A are leafy green vegetables, deep yellow or orange vegetables (e.g., carrots or sweet potatoes), milk, and liver.
- Daily recommendations: Include 2 to 3 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of fruits, at least 3 servings of whole grain bread, cereals, pasta, 2 to 3 servings of lean protein (e.g., meat, fish, and poultry).
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D works with calcium to help the baby’s bones and teeth develop. It also is essential for healthy skin and eyesight. All women, including those who are pregnant, need 600 international units of vitamin D a day. Good sources are milk fortified with vitamin D and fatty fish such as salmon. Exposure to sunlight also converts a chemical in the skin to vitamin D.
- DHA: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), recommends pregnant and lactating women should aim for an average daily intake of at least 200 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) a day in addition to your prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins, as well as DHA, can be purchased over-the-counter or with a prescription.
- Protein: Protein is an important nutrient needed for growth and development. Protein is needed for energy and to build and repair different parts of your body, especially brain, muscle and blood. A pregnant woman needs additional protein for her baby’s growth. Each person needs different amounts of protein depending on their size. A woman weighing 150 pounds needs 75 grams of protein every day. (To estimate, use your pre-pregnant weight and divide by 2.) Choose a variety of protein-rich foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. Use labels on packaged food to determine how many grams of protein each food provides.
- Avoid alcohol: Alcohol has been linked with premature delivery and low birth weight babies, as well as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
- Caffeine: It is recommended to limit your caffeine intake. You may choose: two 5-ounce cups of coffee, three 5-ounce cups of tea, or two 12-ounce glasses of caffeinated soda.
- Eat salty foods in moderation. Salt causes your body to retain water and could lead to an elevation in your blood pressure.
- Do not diet! Even if you are overweight, your pregnancy is not an acceptable time to lose weight. You or your baby could be missing essential nutrients for good growth.
Are there foods that are harmful to eat during pregnancy?
There are specific foods that you will want to avoid during your pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can have a negative effect on your immune system and put you at greater risk for contracting a foodborne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has found that contracting the foodborne illness Listeria during pregnancy can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, and even fetal death. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to contract Listeria.
- You can decrease your chances of contracting Listeria by using caution with hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, or other deli meats (e.g., bologna), or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
- Avoid getting fluid from hot dog and lunch meat packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.
- Do not eat soft cheese such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or panela (queso panela) unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Make sure the label says, “MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK.”
- Pay attention to labels. Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store. Foods that do not need refrigeration, like canned or shelf-stable pâté and meat spreads, are safe to eat. Refrigerate after opening.
- Other foods that are more likely to cause foodborne illnesses include sushi, rare or undercooked meats and poultry (chicken), beef, raw eggs, Caesar dressing, and mayonnaise. For more information on Listeria, go to the CDC.
Another food of concern for pregnant women is fish. Although fish is a low-fat, healthful protein choice, there are certain fish that have elevated levels of methyl mercury or Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), a pollutant in the environment.
Consuming fish with high levels of methyl mercury during pregnancy has been associated with brain damage and developmental delay for babies.
- Eating identified safe fish 1 time a week is safe for pregnant women.
- The March of Dimes recommends pregnant women should avoid all raw and seared fish. Raw fish includes sushi and sashimi, undercooked finfish, and undercooked shellfish (such as undercooked oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops).
- Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish even when cooked as they have higher levels of mercury.
- The March of Dimes cautions against eating fish that may contain higher levels of PCBs. Fish in this category include bluefish, bass, freshwater salmon, pike, trout, and walleye.
For more information on safe fish, go to the CDC or the March of Dimes.
How much weight should I gain?
Gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy by eating a balanced diet is a good sign that your baby is getting all of the nutrients he or she needs and is growing at a healthy rate.
Weight gain should be slow and gradual. In general, you should gain about 2 to 4 pounds during your first 3 months of pregnancy and 1 pound a week for the remainder of the pregnancy. A woman of average weight before pregnancy can expect to gain 15 to 35 pounds during the pregnancy. You may need to gain more or less depending on whether you are underweight or overweight when you get pregnant. Recommendations also differ if you are carrying more than 1 baby.
Where does all the weight go?
- Baby, 6-8 pounds
- Placenta, 2-3 pounds
- Amniotic fluid, 2-3 pounds
- Breast tissue, 0-3 pounds
- Blood supply, 3-4 pounds
- Fat stores for delivery and breastfeeding (remainder of weight)
- Uterus increase, 2-5 pounds
TOTAL: 15 -35 pounds
What if I am gaining too much weight?
Try to get your weight back on track. Don’t consider losing weight or stopping weight gain altogether. You should try to slow your weight gain to recommended amounts, depending on your trimester. During the first trimester, you should gain 2 to 4 pounds total; during the second and third trimester, you should gain 1 pound per week. Consider trying these diet changes to gain weight more slowly:
- Eat the appropriate portion size and avoid second helpings.
- Choose low-fat dairy products.
- Exercise; consider walking or swimming on most if not all days.
- Use low-fat cooking methods.
- Limit sweets and high-calorie snacks.
- Limit sweet and sugary drinks.
What if I am not gaining enough weight?
Every woman is different and not everyone will gain at the same rate. You should talk to your doctor if you are concerned that you are not gaining enough. Weight gain can be hindered by nausea and morning sickness. Excessive vomiting can be a symptom of hyperemesis gravidarum, which you should discuss with your doctor. Consider trying these diet changes to gain weight within appropriate ranges:
- Eat more frequently. Try eating 5 to 6 times per day.
- Choose nutrient and calorically dense foods such as dried fruit, nuts, crackers with peanut butter, and ice cream.
- Add a little extra cheese, honey, margarine, or sugar to the foods you are eating.
What can I eat if I am not feeling well?
Pregnancy symptoms vary. Some women may have difficulty with morning sickness, diarrhea, or constipation. Here are a few suggestions on how to deal with these symptoms.
- Morning sickness: For morning sickness, try eating crackers, cereal, or pretzels before you get out of bed. Eat small meals more frequently throughout the day. Avoid fatty, fried foods.
- Constipation: Increase your fiber intake by eating high fiber cereal and fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, make sure you are drinking plenty of water—at least 10-12 glasses per day.
- Diarrhea: Increase your intake of foods containing pectin and gum fiber to help absorb excess water. Good choices include applesauce, bananas, white rice, oatmeal, and refined wheat bread.
- Heartburn: Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day, eat slowly and chew thoroughly, avoid spicy or rich foods, and caffeine. Do not drink a lot of fluids with your meal, drink fluids in between meals. Try not to lie down after eating a meal, and keep your head elevated when lying down.
Are cravings normal?
Many women will have food cravings during pregnancy, but there are others who do not. If you have food cravings, it’s okay to indulge as long as it fits into a healthy diet and does not occur too often.
If you are craving non-food items such as ice, laundry detergent, dirt, clay, ashes, or paint chips, you may have a condition known as pica. You should discuss this with your doctor immediately. Eating non-food items can be harmful to you and your baby and may be a sign of a nutritional deficiency such as iron deficiency.
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Not Gaining Enough Weight
For most women, pregnancy weight gain is a piece of cake (and a pint of ice cream…and a bag of chips…). But a few expectant moms actually struggle to keep the scale on the upward swing. Sometimes it’s those pesky pregnancy symptoms keeping the pounds from adding up (morning sickness, exhaustion, gas, and heartburn, can all be serious appetite zappers). Sometimes it’s a fast metabolism that makes healthy weight gain an effort — and sometimes there are body-image issues or eating disorders at work.
Not sure if your weight gain’s on target? First you’ll have to find out what that target is, so check with your practitioner (for a woman who starts out pregnancy at an average weight, a weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds is usually recommended, but if you started out heavier or thinner your target may be significantly lower or higher). Does it seem like you’re consistently falling short of your weight-gain goals? If you’re still in your first trimester (or just left it behind), no need to stress over the scale — many women don’t gain any weight in those first queasy months, and some lose a few pounds. If you’ve moved on to the second trimester and beyond but your weight gain hasn’t kept pace, it’s time to step up to the plate (and fill that plate up, while you’re at it). Not gaining enough weight during pregnancy can increase your risk of having a baby who’s born too small or too early (or both), as well as up your odds of developing a host of other pregnancy complications. The sooner you start playing weight-gain catch-up and start piling on the pounds at the recommended rate, the better. After all, your little one’s getting bigger every day — and hungrier. Feed me, Mom!
Ramping Up Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Ready to kick your healthy weight-gain efforts into high gear? Here’s how:
- Eat more. It may seem like Weight 101: If you’re not gaining fast enough on the calories you’re taking in — you need to take in more. But before you veer into the nearest drive-through or dive into the nearest vat of ice cream, here’s something you should know about calories — they’re not all the same. While you’re adding in quantity (so you gain more weight), make sure you also aim for quality (so you’ll also be gaining nutrition). Instead of reaching for the chips and cookies (empty calories), reach for avocados, nuts, dried fruit, cheese, whole grains, and legumes (calories full of nutrients).
- Sneak in snacks. Can’t fit enough calories into your three squares? Finding the tummy space can become even more challenging as your uterus crowds out the real estate, so schedule snack breaks at least three times a day, and make them count. Good options include trail mix, granola, cheese, whole-grain muffins, guacamole or hummus with pita chips, bagels with peanut or almond butter, or a thick, rich, sustaining smoothie. Just don’t make the snacks so filling that there’s no room for your next meal.
- Fatten up your diet. Add an extra serving or two of good-for-you fats (olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts, seeds) to your diet to jump-start healthy weight gain.
- Cut back on exercise. If you’re exercising to the max, you may be burning too many calories (this is one time when you want those “calories in” to stay in). So take your pregnancy workout down a few notches. Switch from hard-core water aerobics to gentle laps, from jogging to walking. And don’t forget to heap your plate extra high with healthy foods to compensate for the calories you’re burning.
- Slow down. A stressful schedule can keep you from braking for food you and your baby need. Slow down your pace, if you can — and if you can’t, get as serious about scheduling in meals and snack as you are about scheduling in meetings and errands.
- Seek help if you need it. If a body-image issue or eating disorder is interfering with your ability to eat a healthy amount of food, don’t be afraid to talk with your practitioner and ask for help. It’s vital for your baby and for your pregnancy.
- Remember, too much is not more. The idea is to get your weight gain back on track — not to send it soaring off the charts. Too much weight gain can pose at least as many pregnancy risks as too little, so aim to stay within those recommended guidelines.
By Rachael Rettner
The second trimester of pregnancy may be a crucial period of time for women to stick to weight-gain recommendations, a new study says.
Overweight or obese women who gained an excessive amount of weight during the second trimester had a greater than 90 percent chance of gaining too much weight by the end of pregnancy, the study found.
On the other hand, normal-weight women who stayed within the recommend guidelines for weight gain during the second trimester had a 77 percent chance of staying on track to gain the appropriate amount of weight at the end of pregnancy.
The findings suggest that interventions to keep pregnant women on track to meet the recommended weight-gain guidelines could be started as early as the second trimester.
“If you tell somebody, ‘you should have put on less weight ,’ it doesn’t help the person very much,” said study researcher Rüdiger von Kries, of the Institute of Social Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich in Germany. The new finding identifies the problem (too little or too much weight gain) at a time when a woman can still do something about it, von Kries said.
The amount of weight a woman should gain in pregnancy depends on her starting weight. The Institute of Medicine recommends normal-weight women gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, underweight women gain 28 to 40 pounds, overweight woman gain 15 to 25 pounds, and obese woman gain 11 to 20 pounds.
By the end of the second trimester, the IOM recommends normal weight women gain no more than 20 pounds, and obese women gain no more than 10 pounds.
Dietary advice given in mid-pregnancy could increase weight in women with inadequate pregnancy weight gain, and physical activity and weight monitoring could reduce weight in women with excessive pregnancy weight gain, the researchers said.
In the new study, researchers gathered information from 7,962 pregnant women living in Germany. The researchers used medical records to obtain the women’s pre-pregnancy weight, as well as the course of their weight gain during pregnancy. They used the Institute of Medicine guidelines to calculate the amount of weight each woman should have gained in each week of pregnancy, depending on her starting weight (the rate of weight gain is slower in the first trimester, compared with the second and third.)
Normal-weight women who gained too much weight in the second trimester had a 74 percent chance of gaining too much weight by the end of their pregnancy, the results showed.
Underweight women who gained too little weight during the second trimester had a 72 percent chance of gaining too little weight by the end of their pregnancy.
Overweight women who gained too much weigh in the second trimester had a 94 percent chance, and obese women a 93 percent chance, of gaining too much weight by the end of pregnancy.
Too little weight gain in pregnancy can lead to complications such as preterm birth and small-for-gestational-age infants, while too much weight gain in pregnancy can lead to gestational diabetes as well as an increased risk of health problems for the child, such as childhood obesity, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The study was published online May 2 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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Not Gaining Enough Weight During Pregnancy: 5 Tips to Get Back on Track
For most women, pregnancy weight gain comes all too easily. But for others, the problem isn’t gaining too much weight — it’s not gaining enough. Whether due to metabolism, body issues, morning sickness, appetite loss or other medical reasons, not gaining enough weight can put you at greater risk of pregnancy complications. In fact, babies whose mothers gain under 20 pounds during pregnancy are more likely to be born early, small for their gestational age and to suffer growth restriction in the uterus. (The exception: very overweight women, who can safely gain less than 20 pounds under close medical supervision.)
That said, many women have trouble putting on weight in the early weeks — and some even lose a few pounds. Fortunately, nature has your baby’s back, offering protection even if you’re too queasy or food-averse to eat. Plus, tiny fetuses have tiny nutritional needs, which means that your lack of weight gain early on won’t have any effect on your baby.
The same isn’t true, however, if you’re falling short of your recommended weight gain by the second trimester. As your baby gets bigger, calories and nutrients will be more and more in demand — and you’ll want to kick your weight gain efforts into high gear, piling on the pounds at a steady pace.
But don’t stress if you’re not gaining the advised weight: Your doctor or a nutritionist can help create a meal plan for you. In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you put on the right amount of weight during pregnancy:
- Eat more calories. It sounds obvious, but it’s worth repeating. If you’re eating the right amount of calories during pregnancy and you’re not gaining weight fast enough, you need to take in more — considerably more if your weight gain has been particularly slow. If you’ve lost your appetite, focus on quality calories in small packages. Good options include foods high in healthy fats, such as avocados and nuts, as well as higher-calorie grains and legumes (denser whole-wheat breads, heartier whole-grain cereals, pasta, beans and peas).
- Skip big salads and other caloric bargains for now. Save them for after your main course to avoid putting a damper on your appetite. Instead, go for more concentrated sources of nutrients and calories — e.g., dried apricots instead of broccoli.
- Don’t turn to junk or processed foods. While it might be tempting to fill the caloric gap (and your frame) with doughnuts, try to resist the urge. Sugary treats (or greasy fries) will add weight, but not nutrition — and right now, you need both.
- Eat early, late and often. Instead of eating three (larger) square meals a day, try to eat six smaller snack-sized bites every two hours or so — and make them count. Good choices: trail mix, granola, cheese, whole-grain muffins, guacamole or hummus with pita chips, bagels with peanut or almond butter, and baked sweet potato fries. Don’t feel like eating? Make yourself a thick, rich, sustaining smoothie and fortify it with some wheat germ.
- Slow down. Have a vigorous exercise routine? Take it down a few notches (the more calories you burn, the harder time you’ll have putting on pounds). Switch from hard-core water aerobics to gentle laps, or from jogging to strolling. If it’s your busy schedule that’s keeping you on the run (and keeping you from eating enough and often enough), slow that down too.
More About Healthy Pregnancy Foods
Your Health The Pregnancy Diet Your Health 11 Best Foods to Eat While Pregnant Your Health 8 Calcium-Rich Foods — and the Best Ways to Eat Them Your Health The Pregnancy Diet Your Health 11 Best Foods to Eat While Pregnant Your Health 8 Calcium-Rich Foods — and the Best Ways to Eat Them Best Foods to Eat While PregnantIn extreme cases, some women develop a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe and continuous vomiting and nausea that’s more debilitating than regular morning sickness. If you have it, you won’t be able to keep anything down, which is problematic because not only are you not getting the vital nutrients and vitamins you and your baby need, you may also be dehydrated. The condition is more common in women carrying multiples or those who have a history of motion sickness. If you think you might be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarium, be sure to let your doctor know. She may prescribe medication or lifestyle changes depending on the severity.
When you need to gain more weight during pregnancy
If your provider says you should gain more weight, here are some tips to help:
- DO NOT skip meals. Instead of eating 3 big meals, eat 5 to 6 small meals every day.
- Keep quick, easy snacks on hand. Nuts, raisins, cheese and crackers, dried fruit, and ice cream or yogurt are good choices.
- Spread peanut butter on toast, crackers, apples, bananas, or celery. One tablespoon (16 grams) of creamy peanut butter will provide about 100 calories and 3.5 grams of protein.
- Add nonfat powdered milk to foods such as mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and hot cereal.
- Add butter or margarine, cream cheese, gravy, sour cream, and cheese to your meals.
- Try to eat more foods that are high in good fats, such as nuts, fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil.
- Drink juices made from real fruit that are high in vitamin C or beta carotene. Grapefruit juice, orange juice, papaya nectar, apricot nectar, and carrot juice are good choices.
- Avoid junk food.
- Ask your provider about taking prenatal vitamins and other supplements.
- See a dietitian or nutritionist for help with your diet, if your provider recommends it.
Eating for Two When Over or Under Weight
Weight gain during pregnancy helps your baby grow. Gaining weight at a steady rate within recommended boundaries can also lower your chances of having hemorrhoids, varicose veins, stretch marks, backache, fatigue, indigestion, and shortness of breath during pregnancy.
Why is weight gain important during pregnancy?
Eating for two is essential. The extra weight you gain during pregnancy provides nourishment to your developing baby and is also stored for breastfeeding your baby after delivery.
Eating for Two: Where does all the extra weight go?
Here is an approximate breakdown of your weight gain:
- Baby: 7-8 pounds
- Placenta: 1-2 pounds
- Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
- Uterus: 2 pounds
- Maternal breast tissue: 2 pounds
- Maternal blood: 4 pounds
- Fluids in maternal tissue: 4 pounds
- Maternal fat and nutrient stores: 7 pounds
How much total weight should I gain?
The amount of weight you should gain depends on your weight and BMI (body mass index) before pregnancy.
You should gain:
- 25-35 pounds if you were a healthy weight before pregnancy, with a BMI of 18.5-24.9.
- 28-40 pounds if you were underweight before pregnancy with a BMI of less than 18.5.
- 15-25 pounds if you were overweight before pregnancy with a BMI of 25-29.9.
- 11-20 pounds if you were obese before pregnancy with a BMI of over 30.
At what rate should I gain weight during my pregnancy?
How much you should gain depends on your weight before you were pregnant and how far along you are in your pregnancy. For the average woman who starts her pregnancy out at a normal weight, your weight gain will look something like this.
If you start out your pregnancy over or under-weight, you will want to talk with your health care provider about what your weight gain rate should look like.
- 1-4.5 pounds during the first trimester
- Approximately 1-2 pounds per week in the second trimester
- Approximately 1-2 pounds per week in the third trimester
Healthy weight before pregnancy:
Throughout your pregnancy, the goal is to keep weight gain as steady as possible because your baby requires a daily supply of nutrients that comes from what you eat.
It is normal for your weight gain to fluctuate a little from week to week. However, you should contact your health care provider if you suddenly gain or lose weight, especially in your third trimester. This could be a sign of certain complications.
What if I am carrying twins?
If you are pregnant with twins, your weight gain should be monitored by your health care provider. Weight gain should increase significantly, but will not double. If you are in the normal weight and BMI category before pregnancy, your weight gain should be about 37-54 pounds. Overweight women will aim for a weight gain of 31-50 pounds.
Women who begin pregnancy at an obese weight should strive for a 25-42 pound gain. Of course, these may all be altered by your health care provider’s recommendation and your specific situation.
Does being underweight pose any risks to me or my baby?
Due to morning sickness, many women have trouble gaining weight in the first trimester and worry about what effects this has on their baby’s development. Some women lose a little weight at the beginning of their pregnancies. Fortunately, at this time, the baby does not need as many calories and nutrients as later in pregnancy.
It is important to gain weight at a steady pace throughout pregnancy. If a woman does not gain weight throughout pregnancy, complications such as low birth weight or premature delivery could occur. Babies who are born to mothers who do not gain more than 20 pounds are often considered small for gestational age (SGA), meaning they may have been malnourished during pregnancy.
Healthy Eating During Pregnancy:
A sensible meal plan that is rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for a developing baby. You may want to ask your health care provider for food recommendations or seek the help of a nutritionist in your area. Women who are underweight during pregnancy tend to eat low-calorie foods and not enough protein.
The following are ways to get more calories:
- Eat breakfast every day. Peanut butter or a slice of cheese on toast can give you an extra protein boost.
- Snack between meals; yogurt and dried fruits can provide protein, calcium, and minerals.
- Try to eat more foods that are high in good fats such as nuts, fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil.
- Drink juices made from real fruit that are high in vitamin C or beta carotenes, such as grapefruit juice, orange juice, papaya nectar, apricot nectar, and carrot juice.
- Avoid junk food. (learn more about foods you should avoid)
- Consult your health care provider about taking prenatal vitamins and any additional supplements.
Can gaining too much weight be harmful?
The following are potential problems with gaining too much weight:
- Gestational diabetes
- Leg pain
- Increased fatigue
- Varicose veins
- Increased risk of cesarean delivery
- High blood pressure
How does being obese affect my pregnancy?
Many overweight women have healthy pregnancies and deliver without complications. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks that extra weight can have.
Pregnant women who are struggling with obesity may have:
- An increased risk for gestational diabetes and high blood pressure
- Difficulty with hearing the heartbeat and measuring the size of the uterus
- Difficulty with vaginal delivery if the fetus is much larger than average
Fortunately, appropriate medical and self-care can lower the risks of these complications. Your health care provider may suggest that more tests be done during pregnancy. These might include ultrasounds to measure your baby’s size, a glucose tolerance test to screen for gestational diabetes, and other diagnostic tests later in pregnancy to monitor your baby’s development.
The following self-care tips can help you make your pregnancy a healthy one for you and your baby:
- Avoid pregnancy risks such as alcohol and smoking.
- Try not to gain too much weight; your health care provider will provide the recommended weight gain.
- Be selective about your food choices; choose food sources that contain vitamins, minerals, and protein.
More Helpful Articles:
- Pregnancy Weight Gain
- Pregnancy and Eating Disorders
- Pregnancy Nutrition
Compiled using information from the following source:
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, https://www.acog.com
Institute Of Medicine, Report Brief May 2009, Weight Gain during Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guideline