It can be challenging to stick to the guidelines for pregnancy weight gain, especially if you’ve never craved carbohydrates so much in your life and it seems like everywhere you turn, people encourage you to eat for two.
But gaining too much weight while pregnant can raise your risk for birth complications like c-section delivery and premature birth. And even if you start pregnancy overweight or obese – like more than half of American women – sticking to the recommended range of weight gain can significantly reduce your risk of health problems like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
Below, doctors and nutritionists offer 10 important – and achievable – tips for healthy pregnancy weight gain.
1. Start pregnancy at a healthy weight if possible
“The most important thing you can do before getting pregnant, in addition to taking prenatal vitamins, is to start your pregnancy at a healthy weight,” says Lauren Hyman, an ob-gyn in West Hills, California.
If you’re at the “thinking about it” stage of pregnancy, or trying to conceive, consider making a preconception appointment. Your healthcare provider can help you figure out your current body mass index (BMI) and suggest ways to lose weight if necessary.
2. Eat moderately and often
You don’t need that many extra calories per day to nourish your growing baby. Current guidelines call for 340 extra calories per day in your second trimester and 450 extra calories per day in your third trimester if you’re starting pregnancy at a healthy weight. (If you’re underweight or overweight, these numbers will differ based on your weight gain goal.)
That’s not a lot of extra to play around with, so choose foods that pack a big nutritional punch and help you feel satisfied.
“Focus on small, frequent meals that are high in lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables,” says Hyman. Learn more about meal planning during pregnancy.
Then choose healthy snacks between meals.
“Eating a healthy snack every three hours should help you avoid overdoing it at mealtimes,” advises dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth, author of Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom’s Healthy Eating Guide. Not only will you be providing good nutrition for your baby, but your blood sugar will stay level throughout the day so you’re less likely to feel starving at dinnertime.
Choose meals and snacks that include protein, fiber, and some healthy fat, says Largeman-Roth. Examples include an apple with two tablespoons of peanut butter, an English muffin with a scrambled egg and spinach, protein-enriched pasta and tomato sauce, or Greek yogurt with a palmful of nuts or granola sprinkled on top.
Fruit with lots of fiber and high water content – like grapefruit, oranges, apples, berries, pears, and plums – can also help you feel full and keep constipation at bay.
3. Drink up (water, that is)
It’s important to avoid dehydration during pregnancy – and drinking enough water has the added benefit of helping you feel satisfied between meals and snacks.
The Institute of Medicine advises pregnant women to drink 10 8-ounce glasses of water or other beverages each day. Some nutritionists suggest adding more for each hour of light activity. Largeman-Roth recommends three liters of water daily, or 101 fluid ounces.
Other experts suggest monitoring urine color: If it’s dark yellow or cloudy, your body needs more fluids. Sip throughout the day to keep your urine color pale yellow or clear – a sign of proper hydration.
Drinking water also eases constipation, one of the less happy side effects of growing a person inside of you. When you’re pregnant, your digestive system slows down, which ensures that you wring every possible bit of nutrition from your food. Getting enough fluids will help keep things moving along and prevent uncomfortable bloating.
Largeman-Roth, who recently gave birth to her third child, ups her water intake by keeping a pretty glass or water bottle with her at all times and chilling pitchers of water with sliced lemon, lime, or cucumber to make it more appealing. “You drink more when your water tastes good,” she says.
4. Make your cravings constructive
No one expects you to avoid french fries and ice cream completely when you’re pregnant. After all, cravings come with the territory.
The key is to satisfy your urges while getting the protein and healthy fats that you and your baby need (and that will help you feel full).
“A little trick I use is to combine something healthy with one of my less-healthy cravings,” says Largeman-Roth. “For example, I mix a high-fiber cereal with some really yummy granola on top. You get the fiber you need to help prevent constipation, plus the sweet crunch you’re craving.”
When Largeman-Roth was pregnant and craved the salty satisfaction of chips and salsa, she toasted a tortilla, then topped it with a fried egg and a pile of shredded cheese, salsa, and diced avocado.
“It has more calories than just the chips,” says Largeman-Roth, “but it packs in a lot more nutrients.” The added protein from the cheese and egg will help you feel full longer.
5. Make starches work harder
Carbohydrates can be a pregnant woman’s best friend, especially if you’re battling the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness. But simple starchy food such as white bread, rice, and pasta raise your blood sugar without giving you the nutrition that comes with whole grains.
Better to reach for complex carbohydrates – such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain breads and pastas – which not only provide you and your baby with more nutrients, but will help you feel full for longer and make you less likely to give in to unhealthy cravings later in the day.
6. Start a simple walking regime
“The most valuable thing any pregnant woman can do is walk,” says Jeanne Conry, past president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For expecting moms who are new to exercise, Conry recommends a program she calls “10 Minutes for Me.” She has her patients walk 10 minutes a day and keep track of when they do it. Every 30 days, she has them add another 10 minutes, so that by the end of the first trimester they’re walking 30 minutes daily, which they can continue to do for the rest of pregnancy.
Boston ob-gyn Laura Riley, who is medical director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital, suggests that her patients purchase pedometers and shoot for 10,000 steps a day. It may sound daunting, but remember that steps done while running errands and walking around the office still count.
“It’s not just important for managing weight gain,” says Riley. “You’ll have a lot fewer aches and pains as you get to the end of pregnancy if you stay active.”
7. If you’re already moving, don’t stop
Unless your workout routine includes competitive kickboxing or other risky activities for expecting moms, there’s no reason you can’t keep it up during pregnancy.
With the exception of contact sports, Riley tells her patients to “do whatever they normally do – running, walking, aerobics, whatever. There are very few things you cannot do during pregnancy.”
You may have to modify your movements as your girth grows and your center of gravity changes, but otherwise, says Riley, there’s no reason you can’t stick to your usual activity.
Learn the best kinds of exercise during pregnancy and find out when it’s not safe to work out.
8. Have the occasional indulgence
Largeman-Roth satisfied her pregnancy sweet tooth with a half-cup serving of full-fat ice cream (about the size of a tennis ball) served in a small bowl to make it look bigger.
Hyman, the California ob-gyn, agrees that her patients shouldn’t deprive themselves of a favorite treat. Instead of making that indulgence a daily habit, though, she advises enjoying it once a week.
9. Make weight a regular discussion
Having a conversation about weight gain with your doctor or midwife at every prenatal visit will help you stay on track and make changes if you need to.
Conry calculates her patients’ body mass index (BMI) at the first visit, then gives guidance on pregnancy weight gain.
“I tell them what their goals are and what will happen during the different trimesters,” Conry says.
Calvin J. Hobel, a maternal-fetal medicine expert at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, studies the health of women during and after pregnancy. He recommends that doctors show women how they are gaining on a curve to help them stay on track.
“Seeing where you are at the beginning and then watching your trajectory is very important,” says Hobel.
To see where you land on the weight-gain curve, and learn how much you should gain based on your height and pre-pregnancy weight, try BabyCenter’s pregnancy weight gain estimator.
10. Breastfeed if you can
While this tip won’t help during pregnancy, it’s worth knowing that breastfeeding can help you meet your goals for healthy weight loss afterward.
“Breastfeeding is the best fix for losing the extra weight you’ve gained during pregnancy,” says Hobel.
When breastfeeding goes well, it burns 500 calories daily. Also, birth and the body changes that happen in the first six weeks postpartum should help you drop your first 20 pounds (just from the baby, placenta, and water weight leaving your body). It’s a great jump start to losing your pregnancy weight.
Kate Rope is a freelance writer and editor and coauthor of The Complete Guide to Medications During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.
- Managing your weight gain during pregnancy
- Extra weight in pregnancy
- Childhood obesity risk
- 1.Don’t Eat for Two
- 2.Pay Attention to Portions
- 3.Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
- 4.Have some Fibre and Protein at Every Meal
- 5.Make Sure you’re Getting Enough Calcium
- 6.Drink LOTS of Water
- 7.Keep a food journal
- Pin for later:
- P.S. If you’d like to get healthy recipes, style & motherhood tips & inspiration sent to your inbox, subscribe below to receive my weekly updates!
- Your Guide to Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain
- How Much Weight You Should Gain
- How Much More You Should Eat
- The Best Foods to Eat
- How Much to Exercise
- Meal-Plan Tips for Keeping Calories In Check
- The Dangers of Excessive Weight Gain During Pregnancy
- You’ll experience more pregnancy symptoms.
- You’re more likely to develop diabetes.
- You’re more likely to have complications during your delivery.
- The more you gain, the longer it takes to lose it.
- You put your baby at a disadvantage, too.
- How Much Weight I Gained
- I Tried Hard
- Letting Go of Control & Postpartum Weight Loss
- Wrap Up
- Weight gain guidelines
- Why is it important?
- Five tips for healthy pregnancy weight gain
Managing your weight gain during pregnancy
Some women are already overweight when they get pregnant. Other women gain weight too quickly during their pregnancy. Either way, a pregnant woman should not go on a diet or try to lose weight during pregnancy.
It is better to focus on eating the right foods and staying active. If you do not gain enough weight during pregnancy, you and your baby may have problems.
Still, you can make changes in your diet to get the nutrients you need without gaining too much weight. Talk to your health care provider to get help with planning a healthy diet.
Below are some healthy eating tips to help you get started.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables make good snacks. They are full of vitamins and low in calories and fat.
- Eat breads, crackers, and cereals made with whole grains.
- Choose reduced-fat dairy products. You need at least 4 servings of milk products every day. However, using skim, 1%, or 2% milk will greatly reduce the amount of calories and fat you eat. Also choose low-fat or fat-free cheese or yogurt.
Foods to avoid:
- Naturally sweetened is better than foods and drinks with added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Food and drinks that list sugar or corn syrup as one of the first ingredients are not good choices.
- Many sweetened drinks are high in calories. Read the label and watch out for drinks that are high in sugar. Substitute water for sodas and fruit drinks.
- Avoid junk-food snacks, such as chips, candy, cake, cookies, and ice cream. The best way to keep from eating junk food or other unhealthy snacks is to not have these foods in your house.
- Go light on fats. Fats include cooking oils, margarine, butter, gravy, sauces, mayonnaise, regular salad dressings, lard, sour cream, and cream cheese. Try the lower-fat versions of these foods.
- Knowing the amount of calories, fat, and salt in your food can help you eat healthier.
- Most restaurants have menus and nutrition facts on their websites. Use these to plan ahead.
- In general, eat at places that offer salads, soups, and vegetables.
- Avoid fast food.
Cooking at home:
- Prepare meals using low-fat cooking methods.
- Avoid fried foods. Frying foods in oil or butter will increase the calories and fat of the meal.
- Baking, broiling, grilling, and boiling are healthier, lower-fat methods of cooking.
- Moderate exercise, as recommended by your provider, can help burn extra calories.
- Walking and swimming are generally safe, effective exercises for pregnant women.
- Be sure to talk to your provider before starting an exercise program.
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy is tied to an increased risk of complications for both mother and baby. However, some doctors are reluctant to recommend that pregnant women restrict their weight gain, in part due a lack of tools to help mothers do this safely.
But now, a new study finds that with the help of nutritional counseling and a smartphone app, pregnant women who are overweight or obese can safely restrict their weight gain in pregnancy.
In the study, women who were overweight or obese were assigned to follow a specific diet during pregnancy. The women received guidance from a nutritionist and used a smartphone app to log meals. At the end of the study period, these women had gained less weight than pregnant women in a control group who didn’t follow the diet. The women on the diet gained 4.5 lbs. (2 kilograms) less than the other women. What’s more, babies born to mothers in the diet group were not at increased risk of low birth rate or other problems.
It’s “very reassuring” that babies born to mothers who restricted their weight gain during pregnancy were not at increased risk for harm, said Dr. Saima Aftab, the medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, who was not involved in the study. Aftab added that doctors currently don’t have specific tools to help pregnant women restrict weight gain, and so the type of program in the study “may be a solution in the future.”
However, Aftab stressed that larger studies are needed to examine whether this approach ultimately leads to heathier pregnancies and healthier babies, because the current study wasn’t designed to answer those questions.
The study, from researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, was published Sept. 24 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Extra weight in pregnancy
Women who are overweight or obese in pregnancy have a greater risk of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related high blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. What’s more, women who are overweight and obese are also more likely than women at a healthy weight to gain too much weight during pregnancy, which puts them at risk of having larger babies. That factor can lead to problems with delivery as well as low blood sugar levels in the newborn. Babies that are born larger than average may also be at higher risk for obesity in childhood, the Mayo Clinic says.
Because of these risks, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) recommends that overweight women gain 15 to 25 lbs. (7 to 11 kg) during pregnancy and obese women gain just 11 to 20 lbs. (5 to 9 kg). For comparison, women of healthy weight should gain 25 to 35 lbs. (11 to 16 kg) in pregnancy, the NAM says.
Still, nearly half of U.S. women gain too much weight in pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from 281 women who were overweight or obese at the start of their pregnancies. The women were divided into two groups: an intervention group and a usual-care group.
The intervention group met with a nutritionist, who counseled the women on how to follow the DASH diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and lean protein and low in salt, sugar and saturated fat. The goal of the diet was not to help the women lose weight but to restrict their weight gain in pregnancy to meet the NAM recommendations. Women in this group also used a smartphone app to record what they ate, and a nutritionist reviewed these logs to provide feedback. In addition, the women were given a pedometer and told to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity, such as walking, per day.
Women in the usual-care group were given general advice on nutrition and physical activity in pregnancy but did not receive coaching or use the smartphone app.
At 35 weeks of pregnancy, women in the intervention group had gained 22 lbs. (10 kg), on average, compared with 26 lbs. (12 kg) in the usual-care group. In addition, about 31 percent of those in the intervention group stayed within the NAM recommendations for weight gain in pregnancy, compared with just 15 percent in the usual-care group.
Babies born to mothers in the two groups had similar birth weights, on average, and were not at increased risk of neonatal problems, the study said.
The current study looked at whether the intervention worked and was safe, but the research wasn’t designed to look at whether women who followed the diet were at lower risk of pregnancy complications or had healthier babies, Aftab told Live Science. That’s why larger studies are still needed before a program like this could be recommended by doctors.
In addition, unexpectedly, obese mothers in the intervention group were more likely to need cesarean sections than women in the usual-care group. This finding could have been due to chance, but it’s another reason to take caution regarding the results and to conduct further studies, Aftab said.
Childhood obesity risk
More studies are also needed to determine if the children born to mothers who restricted their weight gain in pregnancy have a lower risk of obesity themselves. The researchers said they plan to follow the children until they are at least 3 to 5 years old to help answer this question.
In addition, although women in the intervention group tended to eat a healthier diet than those in the usual-care group, women in the two groups had similar levels of physical activity. That’s because, even though women in the intervention group were encouraged to track their activity, they often did not and usually fell short of their exercise goals. The women reported time constraints, fatigue and work-life balance as barriers to meeting the physical activity goals, which shows that more efforts are needed to improve physical activity in this population, the researchers said.
Original article on Live Science.
Q: I’ve just entered my second trimester and my doctor is concerned that I’ve already gained too much weight. How can I eat well and give my baby all the nutrients it needs without adding on too much extra weight? And, please don’t ask me to give up dessert!
In women who are normal weight before pregnancy a weight gain of 26 to 35 pounds during pregnancy is ideal. An increase of approximately 300 calories a day above usual calorie intake starting in the second trimester is recommended to meet the increased energy demands of pregnancy. Energy needs in the first trimester approximate those of non-pregnant females. Health care providers usually look for a weight gain of approximately 1 to 1.5 lbs per week starting in the second trimester. Excessive maternal weight gain is associated with pregnancy induced hypertension and gestational diabetes among other complications. If you have already gained excessive weight, your goal should be to slow the rate of weigh gain, but not to lose weight.
The best way to avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy is to choose nutrient dense foods (those supplying many nutrients at reasonable calorie levels). A good way to look at food needs for pregnancy is to think in terms of food groups. An adequate diet for pregnancy would include 7 ounces from the protein group (meat and meat substitutes), 3 servings of milk products 7 servings of grain products, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, and 3 servings of fat. Although getting adequate servings from all the food groups might sound challenging, most serving sizes are quite modest. A serving of fruit and vegetables is just ½ cup or 1 tennis ball size piece; ½ cup cooked grains or 1 slice of bread is a serving from the grain group, a teaspoon provides a serving of fat and 7 ounces of meat for the whole day is only the size of a chicken breast. It is the choices you make from each category that will determine whether you meet or exceed your calorie needs. For example, 8 oz. of skim milk is 90 calories, whereas 8 oz. of whole milk is 150 calories. Although there is no need to give up dessert, you may want to consider the type and frequency of the desserts you have. A slice of angel food cake with strawberries provides 160 calories, while a slice of chocolate cake is 340 calories.
Exercise can also play a helpful role in reducing excessive weight gain as well as facilitating labor (when it’s time!), reducing the risk of gestational diabetes and relieving stress. Continuing a pre-pregnancy exercise program during pregnancy can help reduce fat and facilitate a quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight. If you are starting an exercise program for the first time during pregnancy it is best to discuss your plans with your healthcare provider before you begin. Exercises such as walking, swimming and bicycling are all good choices.
I have successfully lost two stone since my last pregnancy two years ago.
I am now two months pregnant again and don’t want to pile on the pounds, but I still want to be giving my baby all the nutrition it needs.
What advice can you give me for a healthy pregnancy?
The best advice is to eat ‘everything in moderation’. The advice to ‘eat for two’ is inaccurate and outdated.
We now know that babies will take all the nutrition that they need from their mothers and as long as your diet follows good general guidelines, your baby will come to no harm.
The average weight gain in pregnancy, inclusive of the baby, the fluid surrounding it and the extra weight due to the enlargement of the womb, is between one and a half and two stones.
Much more than this and you are gaining extra fat, which is not necessary and will prove difficult to lose afterwards.
A simple way to check whether your weight gain in pregnancy is fat or baby is to measure the tops of your thighs throughout the pregnancy.
If the tape measure reading is constant, then it is baby who is growing, not you.
- Avoid excessive sugary or fatty foods as these contain empty calories and, although tasty, don’t help keep your weight stable.
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables with lean meat or fish.
- Remember that potatoes and bread are not fattening until you put butter on them.
- Brown or wholemeal bread is more filling than the white variety, as is brown rice compared to white.
- Alcoholic drinks are best avoided as they are not recommended for either mother-to-be or baby – fruit juice with sparkling mineral water is a good alternative.
- If you feel an attack of the nibbles coming on, opt for dried fruit and a glass of water, this will help fill you up and avoid constipation, which is a common side effect of pregnancy.
The odd ‘sin’ will do you and your baby no harm whatsoever, but try and keep a balance in your eating.
Don’t forget the benefits of regular exercise for a healthy pregnancy and your previous unwanted weight gain should not reoccur.
The NetDoctor Medical Team
Last updated 13.07.2014
Trying to stay healthy and fit during pregnancy? Today I’m sharing some of my secrets to prevent gaining excess weight during pregnancy so that you can stay in good shape for those 9 months and beyond!
When I first got pregnant, I received a lot of dietary recommendations and advice on what to expect during pregnancy. And I mean A LOT.
Some of the things I most commonly heard were, “Eat as much as you want…you’re eating for two!” or “pregnancy ruins your body…your body will never be the same again.”
It also seemed like EVERY woman I talked to felt the need to share with me exactly how much weight they gained during their pregnancy, and it usually ranged anywhere from 5-100lbs.
That’s a pretty wide range.
And let’s just be honest. The thought of gaining 100lbs doesn’t exactly make you want to jump for joy.
On a day to day basis, I’ve always worked really hard to eat right and exercise in order to stay fit and healthy, so these comments and stories honestly TERRIFIED me. As much as I wanted a baby and knew that there would be sacrifice involved in having a child, I also didn’t want to give up all the years of hard work that I had dedicated to staying in shape.
I also didn’t want to view my body in a negative light for the rest of my life post baby.
We all want to feel good about ourselves, right?
This was probably one of my biggest fears when I first found out I was pregnant.
At the start of my pregnancy, I really didn’t know what to expect or even how much I should change my eating habits. I had never done this pregnancy thing before! One thing I did know, however, was that I didn’t want to pack on a whole bunch of additional pounds that I would have to work super hard to lose post pregnancy.
In my mind, having a baby is overwhelming enough without having to work on losing a ton of weight too.
I made a commitment to myself to eat as healthy as possible throughout my pregnancy, not only for my own benefit, but also for the health of my baby. After all, there was a little person growing inside of me, so I wanted to ensure that I was providing all of the necessary nutrients.
By the end of my pregnancy, I had gained approximately 20lbs, which was primarily baby and fluids, and I was pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t gained very much additional body fat.
Now I’m certainly not saying this to brag, but more so as an encouragement to you, because I had always just assumed that gaining a bunch of body fat was a given when you’re pregnant because that’s what I had always read or been told. And I think a lot of women have this perception. But that totally doesn’t have to be the case!
If you take care of yourself, pay attention to what you’re eating and exercise on a regular basis, you definitely don’t have to give up your body when you have a baby.
There are some key strategies that you can implement to minimize gaining excess body fat during pregnancy and save yourself a TON time and effort trying to lose the baby weight.
Now before I share some of my strategies, please recognize that pregnancy is a very individual journey and of course everyone will experience a different rate of weight gain. Along with following these strategies below, I recommend working closely with your doctor to ensure that you’re gaining the right amount of weight for you and your baby.
Now, here are some of the strategies that I found worked for me!
1.Don’t Eat for Two
This is the most common misconception and one of the most frustrating things that I heard throughout my pregnancy.
You DON’T need to down tubs of ice cream and burgers and fries every day to feed the baby.
The baby doesn’t need that crap and neither do you. In reality, unless you’re severely underweight in the first trimester, you don’t need any extra calories to support the growth of the baby.
In the second trimester, you only need an extra 300 calories and in the third, an extra 450 calories.
That’s equivalent to an apple, handful of nuts, and a yogurt. It’s really not that much extra food.
Personally, I’m not a calorie counter, so I wasn’t calculating my calories every day. I just listened to my body and ate when I felt hungry and made the healthiest possible choices when the hunger struck.
So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ignore everyone who tells you to eat for two.
2.Pay Attention to Portions
One thing I’ve always been very conscious of are my portion sizes, and this didn’t change when I became pregnant. Although I was often told that you become ravenous during pregnancy and down everything in sight, I didn’t really find that to be the case.
That being said, I do know that some women experience a significant increase in appetite.
During the first trimester, I was quite nauseous so the thought of eating didn’t really appeal to me all that much because I had a hard time coming up with foods that I actually felt like eating. By the third trimester, the baby was taking up so much room, that I would get full really quickly.
If you do find that you’re super hungry, try throwing some extra vegetables on your plate. It will add some extra bulk and fibre and help you better control your portions to prevent overeating throughout the day.
Or another strategy is to use a smaller dessert-sized plate. The plate will appear a lot more full which will trick you into thinking that you’re eating more than you actually are!
3.Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
I found that because I didn’t have a whole lot of room for food as the baby was growing, my best strategy was to eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day.
This didn’t change much from my pre-pregnancy days because I’ve always been the type to eat a small meal or snack every 2-3 hours. I find that it helps to keep those hunger levels in check, energy levels up and prevents me from overeating at the next meal.
It’s also a good strategy for managing heart burn which is something that a lot of pregnant women struggle with.
I was very fortunate because I didn’t have to deal with heart burn and I think it was largely due to making healthier food choices, and eating smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. You might find that it works for you too!
4.Have some Fibre and Protein at Every Meal
This one is HUGE! The combination of fibre and protein helps to regulate your blood sugar and can also control hunger levels since fibre and protein both make you feel full for longer. As an added bonus, the fibre helps keep you regular.
Everyone knows that constipation is no fun. Especially when you’re pregnant. Believe me, there’s enough going on down there. So be sure to load up on that fibre, striving for 25-35 grams per day!
5.Make Sure you’re Getting Enough Calcium
When boosting my calories in the second and third trimester, one thing I paid attention to was making sure that I was getting some extra servings of calcium-rich foods since calcium requirements increase to 1200mg per day during pregnancy.
Now I don’t tolerate dairy very well since it tends to upset my stomach and make me breakout more, so I generally don’t include it much in my diet.
Instead, during pregnancy, I added a couple of servings of unsweetened almond milk at breakfast and snacks and also included other calcium-rich foods like almonds, broccoli, and salmon with bones to my diet.
It’s also very important to take a prenatal supplement throughout pregnancy to ensure that you’re getting those extra nutrients you might be skimping on in your diet like calcium, iron and folate.
6.Drink LOTS of Water
Another strategy I recommend to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy is to drink LOTS of water. You gotta chug that H2O!
Throughout my pregnancy, I usually drank anywhere from 12-14 cups of water per day and even more on days that I exercised. I carried around a 750 mL bottle with me throughout the day and kept refilling it, making a mental note of how much I was drinking.
Having a large bottle constantly full can make it really easy to calculate if you’re getting enough fluids.
Also, one strategy I use to make drinking water a little more refreshing is to mix the plain water with Perrier water or to infuse fruit, cucumbers or fresh herbs into the water, like this recipe for Sassy Water. It just makes the water taste SO much more refreshing.
I also drank about 2-3 cups of herbal tea (just make sure it’s pregnancy-safe) like my all time favourite decaf Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Green Tea. This stuff is seriously the best! Even though it’s technically a Christmas tea, I actually order a stash of it in bulk from Amazon so that I can drink it all year long. Who says you can’t drink candy cane tea in the summer?!
7.Keep a food journal
I know, I know. We hear this one all the time, but it works!
By writing down what you eat during the day, it helps keep you more accountable and if you are packing on the pounds a little faster than you’d like, you can always go back and review your food journal to see where you might be overdoing it and figure out what tweaks can be made.
At the end of the day, who wants to write down that they had a double whopper cheese burger, a handful of candy and a whole sleeve of cookies?? NO ONE.
Writing down what you eat can help keep you on track.
Overall, I felt like these strategies really helped me keep my weight gain in check, along with regular exercise. If you’re interested, you can check out some tips for staying fit during pregnancy here.
You’re going to hear a lot of stories during pregnancy and get a lot of unsolicited advice, but don’t think that just because your Great Aunt Maud packed on the pounds and suffered with major heart burn or constipation that that has to be your destiny too.
If you follow these strategies, it will help keep your weight in check so that you can spend more time enjoying your baby and less time worrying about how you’ll lose the extra baby weight.
What strategies worked for you when preventing excess weight gain during pregnancy?
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Your Guide to Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain
Pregnancy — the one time in your life when you feel it’s acceptable to put on pounds. But if you’re assuming that pregnancy gives you free reign to eat junk food, think again. And although occasional treats won’t hurt, eating for two doesn’t mean eating twice as much. The truth is, a healthy diet has never been more important.
“Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy are more prone to gestational diabetes, have a higher risk of delivery complications, and tend to have trouble losing weight after the birth,” says Kathleen M. Rasmussen, Sc.D., R.D., professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University and chair of the committee on the report Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines at the Institute of Medicine. Preventing these complications is as simple as avoiding excess weight gain.
If you followed a well-balanced diet before baby, you may not need to make any major changes. But the changes you should make will help to provide all the nutrients your child will need for healthy growth and development. Eating right will also give you all the ingredients you need for a healthy weight gain. Here’s how to make every calorie count and ensure your scale doesn’t tip too far in the wrong direction.
- RELATED: Pregnancy Weight Gain: What to Expect and Why It’s Not As Bad As You Think
How Much Weight You Should Gain
So what’s a reasonable rate for the scale to go up each week? Helain Landy, MD, professor and chair, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and fellowship director, Division Director at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., says she recommends the common sense approach.
“For normal-weight patients, ideally they should gain 25-35 pounds, and for 40 weeks in a pregnancy, that’s usually a pound or a half pound per week.
- RELATED: How to Chart Your Pregnancy Weight Gain
How Much More You Should Eat
Now that you’re eating for two, you may need to eat a bit more — but not as much as you think. So how much is too much? That depends on your age and what you weighed before you became pregnant. If you began your pregnancy at a normal weight, you should expect to gain between 25 and 35 pounds. That may sound like a lot, but it translates into eating about 300 more calories a day. A healthy snack, such as a small bowl of cereal with milk and fruit, can easily do the trick. Women who follow this guideline should gain four to six pounds in the first trimester and about one pound a week during the second and third trimesters.
However, if you began your pregnancy under- or overweight, you have different weight gain goals. Underweight women need to gain more (28 to 40 pounds), while overweight moms-to-be may need to put on 15 to 25 pounds. Women who exceed their recommended weight gain may be more likely to have a difficult labor resulting in cesarean delivery. Women who don’t gain enough weight, however, may risk going into premature labor.
The bottom line? Putting on the proper number of pounds is the healthiest way to go.
- RELATED: How Your Pregnancy Weight Directly Affects Your Baby’s Size
The Best Foods to Eat
Eating the right amount of food from each of the five groups in the USDA Food Guide Pyramid will ensure that you and your baby get the nutrients you both need. But before you get too excited about the number of servings you’re allowed, pay attention to what constitutes a serving. For example, one pancake the size of a CD — not three giant ones smothered in butter and syrup — equals one serving of grains.
Whether you have three big meals a day or six small ones, it’s important to eat consistently. You may also be more comfortable eating smaller meals later in your pregnancy as your baby puts more pressure on your abdomen.
Here’s how your diet should divide up in a day:
Grains: 6 to 11 servings Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. Try to work in as many whole grains as you can; they provide fiber and ease constipation, a common problem during pregnancy. One serving of grains is roughly one slice of bread or one cup of cooked rice, cereal, or pasta.
Fruits (2 to 4 servings) and Vegetables (3 to 5 servings): Packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, fruits and veggies have fiber as well. These foods enable you to use iron more efficiently and help your baby build tissue. A veggie serving can consist of one cup of raw leafy or cooked vegetables. One fruit serving can be one medium-size whole fruit, one cup of canned fruit, or one cup of fruit juice. Moms-to-be should strive to eat at least one daily serving of produce rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
Protein: 2 to 3 servings Protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, and beans are crucial for your baby’s tissue growth. Two to three ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish (about the size of a deck of cards) is considered one serving. One egg, two tablespoons of peanut butter, or 1/3 cup of nuts can also count as one ounce of meat. If you’re vegetarian, be sure to meet your protein needs by eating eggs; tofu and other soy products, such as soy burgers and soy milk; and dried beans, such as split peas.
Dairy: 3 to 4 servings Give your body the calcium it needs to help build baby’s bones and teeth with dairy. A serving is 1 cup of milk or yogurt, two one-inch cubes of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese. Avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses such as Brie, feta, Camembert, and Roquefort, as they can be sources of listeriosis, a bacterial form of food poisoning that’s particularly dangerous in pregnancy. Women who can’t eat dairy should consult their doctor about taking a calcium supplement.
Fats: These should be approached the same way as when you weren’t pregnant — sparingly. We’re not talking about the healthy fats found in fish and olive oil. The kinds you need to be wary of occur in foods such as butter, meat, and full-fat dairy products. During pregnancy, fats should make up 30 percent of your daily calories. They give you energy and help your body use certain crucial vitamins.
- RELATED: A Food Safety Guide for Pregnant Women: What to Eat and What Not
How Much to Exercise
Don’t immediately drop your workout routine when you see the plus sign on that pregnancy test. Regular exercise is good for your overall health, and it will help you burn calories and store fat in the right places, such as in your butt; this fat will be easier to burn off after baby than fat around your middle, where loss-resistant adipose tissue is formed.
Celeste Durnwald, MD, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, recommends 30 minutes of light exercise like walking or swimming three days a week for the physical health benefits. Unless you’re experiencing a complication like placenta previa or bleeding, you should be able to continue your pre-pregnancy exercise routine. If you weren’t active before you conceived, you can still start now. Stay motivated by making a walking date with another pregnant friend or your partner. Or, take the kids on a walk to go play at the park.
“Even if you can sustain exercise for at least 10 minutes, you’re getting a benefit,” says Dr. Durnwald. “You can still see some benefits from the natural release of insulin with exercise after 15 minutes.”
- RELATED: Is It Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?
Meal-Plan Tips for Keeping Calories In Check
If you’ve gained the highest recommended weight already and you’re only at 28 weeks, you can still adjust your trajectory, says Dr. Durnwald.
“You can at least control the amount of weight gain at this point. I’ll tell patients, ‘Let’s only gain a pound a week, or a half a pound a week (for an obese woman)—that should be our focus now. We can’t do anything about the first five months, but we can still do something.’ It’s important to build the mom up because she might feel frustrated or defeated. If you feel negatively about yourself it can impact your eating, exercise habits, and our motivation with everything else.”
If your obstetrician suggests you tap the brakes on weight gain, don’t try a crash diet — your growing baby needs far too many nutrients for you to make drastic food cuts. Instead, tweak your meals so that pound-creep slows to a healthy pace. No need to deny yourself; these simple ways to cut at least 100 calories are 100 percent tasty.
- RELATED: A Week of Delicious Pregnancy Meals and Snacks
- Give your mug a makeover. Consider trading the milk or cream in your coffee for nonfat milk. Don’t want to forego the fatty stuff? Rethink your add-ins instead. Two pumps of vanilla syrup (the amount in a Starbucks tall) add 40 calories. Try flavoring your drink with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Cut Extra Calories Without Realizing It Sip your morning OJ from a tall, slender glass rather than a short, wide one, and you’ll down less, research shows.
- Slim your cereal bowl. Switch from 2 percent milk to skim and trade half of your cereal for a whole-grain kind that has about 70 calories per cup, such as Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs. Even better: Have three-quarters of a cup with high-fiber strawberries.
- Pour yourself a long, tall one. People down about 20 percent more juice when drinking from a short, wide glass rather than a tall, slender one, according to Cornell University research. Try that, and save more calories by mixing one part water or flavored seltzer with one part juice. Refreshing!
- Downsize your baked goods. Bakery muffins can weigh in at 400 calories (or more) each. Eat half, or try a VitaMuffin (at a sweet-tooth-satisfying 100 calories).
- Jazz up plain yogurt. Most presweetened varieties pack lots of sugar. Instead, buy nonfat plain yogurt and add your own fruit and a pinch of cinnamon.
- Change your spread. A dollop of full-fat mayonnaise on your turkey sandwich adds nearly 100 calories and 10 grams of fat. Go for mustard, which has loads of flavor and only a trace of calories.
- Liquefy. Soups, salads, yogurt, and cottage cheese have all earned a well-deserved rep from experts as smart bites. Foods that have a higher water content are more satisfying than those that don’t.
- Soup Smarter. If you choose a broth-based soup (such as chicken noodle or minestrone) over a creamy one like broccoli-cheddar or clam chowder, you’ll cut at least 100 calories and skip the heart-unhealthy saturated fat. What a souper selection!
- Have Fries with Friends. Can’t resist fast-food fries? Go right ahead! Ask for a small order and split it with a buddy. She’ll just think you’re nice–not looking to save 200 calories.
- Dump the Drizzle. Instead of stir-frying in oil (240 calories for two tablespoons), mist the pan (20 calories per two-second spritz). A Misto olive-oil sprayer (you add the oil) costs about $10.
- Do a Veggie Swap. Trade higher-calorie ingredients, including pasta, rice, and meat, for vegetables twice a day and you’ll trim calories. For instance, replace half the beef in your lasagna or fajitas with mushrooms. You’ll never miss the meat–promise.
- Phase out Fat. “Stir Greek-style yogurt into soup instead of adding sour cream for that rich taste,” says Stephanie Clarke, R.D., co-owner of C&J Nutrition. You can also use this type of yogurt in place of mayonnaise when your make chicken or egg salad or as a baked potato topper.
- Season Your Sides. If you top steamed broccoli with a tablespoon of butter, you add 100 calories. Flavor veggies with herbs, a sprinkle of sea salt, or some lemon juice.
- BYO Popcorn. Smuggle in a bag of the air-popped kind at the movies and you’ll save mucho calories and saturated fat. A typical small popcorn at a cinema, sans buttery topping, packs 370 calories; six cups of air-popped, around 180.
- Beware TV Brain. People who snack while they’re glued to the tube take in more calories than people who don’t. “Eating in front of the TV can give you food amnesia,” says Jarosh. “But when you’re mindful of what you’re eating, you’re more accountable for how much you’re putting into your mouth.”
- Say Hello to Sorbet. A small raspberry sorbet at Cold Stone Creamery has 160 calories; a small raspberry ice cream, 330.
- Party On! Just Do It Smart. “Rather than grazing at a buffet, put finger food on a small plate,” suggests Clarke. And be picky about hors d’oeuvres: Instead of, say, three pigs in a blanket, have three pieces of jumbo shrimp with a quarter-cup of cocktail sauce and save yourself 120 calories.
- By Richard H. Schwarz, M.D., Rachel Meltzer Warren, M.S., R.D., and Nicole Dorsey Straff
Oct. 1, 2008 — Women who diet before pregnancy tend to gain too much weight during pregnancy.
Even women who succeed in controlling their weight before pregnancy tend to gain too much weight while they’re carrying a child, say Anna Maria Siega-Riz, PhD, RD, and colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“When they are not pregnant, many women are really trying to hold their weight down. But when they become pregnant the message they get is ‘Eat for two; give in to your cravings,'” Siega-Riz tells WebMD.
The UNC researchers asked 1,223 women who had just become pregnant about their previous dietary habits. About half the women had restrained their eating habits in some way. They simply cut back on what they ate, followed specific diet plans, and/or cycled between gaining and losing weight.
Regardless of how they did it, all normal-weight, overweight, or obese women who had tried to restrict their diets gained more weight during pregnancy than did women who did not diet before pregnancy.
Moreover, the pre-pregnancy dieters gained more weight during pregnancy than doctors recommend — putting themselves and their babies at risk.
Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy have more C-sections, more preeclampsia, and are more likely to have babies with growth problems, says obstetrician J. Christopher Glantz, MD, MPH, director of the perinatal outreach program at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
“You might think people who are dieting before pregnancy would tend to gain less weight. Not only is that not true, this study shows that in pretty much all weight categories, the restrained eaters seem to gain more weight once they get pregnant,” Glantz tells WebMD.
Surprisingly, normal-weight women don’t need much more food once they’re pregnant:
- Extra daily calories needed during the first trimester: 0
- Extra daily calories needed during the second trimester: 340
- Extra daily calories needed during the third trimester: 450
It’s a different story only for women who are underweight before pregnancy, but who restrict their diets anyway. These women, Siega-Riz and colleagues found, did not gain enough weight during pregnancy — and many likely suffer from eating disorders.
The Dangers of Excessive Weight Gain During Pregnancy
If you’re pulling the “eating for two” card, you might need to find another excuse to devour that donut. A study in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that nearly half of all women gain too much weight during pregnancy, which can lead to health issues for both mother and baby.
“When a woman gains too much weight during pregnancy, it increases the risk of her baby being born too large, which can contribute to subsequent obesity in the child as well as delivery complications such as vaginal tears, excess bleeding, and an increased need for a Caesarean section,” explains study co-author Andrea Sharma, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control’s Maternal and Infant Health Branch. “Also, it can be harder for the mother to lose excess weight gained during pregnancy which can put her at a greater risk for obesity.”
- RELATED: Your Guide to Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain
For the study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data representative of all women who gave birth to a full-term baby in 2010 or 2011 in 28 states. They found that 47% of women gained too much weight during pregnancy.
Also, women who were overweight or obese before conception were nearly three times more likely to gain more weight than the recommendations as compared with those women who started pregnancy at a normal weight (though women with the highest BMIs were also almost twice as likely to gain too little weight.)
Anita Sadaty, M.D., an Ob-Gyn based in Great Neck, New York, says that you don’t need to gain a ton of weight to have a healthy baby. According to the Institute of Medicine, women who are underweight to begin with (BMI less than 18.5) should gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy; those who start at a normal weight (BMI between 18.5-24.9) should gain 25 to 35 pounds; those who are overweight (BMI 25-29.9) should gain 15 to 25 pounds; and those who are obese (BMI 30 or greater) should gain 11 to 20 pounds. While a few pounds above the threshold is probably fine, too much can have negative consequences.
- RELATED: How to Chart Your Pregnancy Weight Gain
“Pregnancy certainly does not equate to ‘eating for two’; in fact, the extra caloric requirements are actually relatively small,” says Sharma. “In general, a woman doesn’t need any additional calories during the first trimester. During the second trimester, she only needs an additional 340 calories, and she only needs an extra 450 calories during the third trimester. To give you an idea, an additional 350 calories is approximately equal to adding a snack consisting of one medium apple, one cup of non-fat Greek yogurt and a handful of almonds.”
Another factor leading to being overweight during pregnancy: Many pregnant women don’t exercise as much as they should.
“We come from a culture where exercise during pregnancy hasn’t been encouraged, but we have to change that,” says Sharma. “Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity during pregnancy. They can work to achieve this goal by taking brisk 10 to 20 minute walks throughout the week.”
- RELATED: How Your Pregnancy Weight Directly Affects Your Baby’s Size
Here’s a look at the risks of gaining too much weight during pregnancy. Keep these in mind when you’re mid-craving, and it might be a little easier to put down those Oreos.
You’ll experience more pregnancy symptoms.
Not every woman will experience the most annoying pregnancy symptoms, including varicose veins, achy joints, and heartburn. But those who tack on too much weight are more likely to develop them, Dr. Sadaty says. Extra weight puts pressure on your body overall, making it harder for blood and fluids to move around on the inside, and for you to move around on the outside. This can trigger leg cramps, hemorrhoids, backaches, physical exhaustion, and more.
You’re more likely to develop diabetes.
“Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy are more prone to gestational diabetes, a dangerous condition in which your body is unable to produce enough insulin to balance glucose levels in your blood,” says Kathleen M. Rasmussen, Sc.D., R.D., professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University and chair of the committee on the report Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines at the Institute of Medicine.
The good news is that most moms with gestational diabetes won’t remain diabetic after the baby is born. Still, being diagnosed with the condition puts you at higher risk for getting it again during a future pregnancy and for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
- RELATED: How To Gain Pregnancy Weight The Healthy Way
You’re more likely to have complications during your delivery.
Gaining too much weight typically increases the size of your baby. Having a big baby isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can make labor more difficult. Large babies have a tough time getting pushed out naturally, often making a last-minute caesarean section necessary.
“And heavier babies tend to get shoulder dystocia, a condition in which the shoulders are larger than the head, making natural birth extremely painful and, in many cases, impossible,” Rasmussen says. Having a C-section isn’t the end of the world – after all, some women plan for them – but it can delay milk production and lengthen your post-birth recovery time.
The more you gain, the longer it takes to lose it.
“Bouncing back after giving birth is a lot easier when don’t gain too much weight,” Dr. Sadaty says. Once that baby’s out, you’ll notice an immediate drop in weight – about 11 pounds, which accounts for your new little one, the amniotic fluid, and the no-longer-essential placenta. The rest of the weight can take months to lose – longer if you gain a significant amount.
“Even if you breastfeed you’re going to have to put in a lot of effort to work off all those extra pounds,” says Andrea Orbeck, a fitness trainer in Los Angeles who helps A-list clients maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.
You put your baby at a disadvantage, too.
“An overweight mother is more likely to give birth to a large baby with a greater risk of diabetes and obesity throughout childhood, and beyond,” Rasmussen says.
- By Kimberly A. Daly
Weight gain in pregnancy can be scary, but there are valuable lessons to be learned out of your comfort zone. Pin it here.
I’m six weeks postpartum and I thought I’d share another more personal post. You might remember my blog post in October on dealing with weight gain during pregnancy. I’m dishing on exactly how much weight I gained and the five most valuable lessons I learned.
How Much Weight I Gained
I would have never believed you if you told me I would gain over 50 pounds during pregnancy – 51 pounds to be exact. To be completely honest, I had a pre-conceived notion that if you gained “too much” (compared to the guidelines) weight during pregnancy, you probably were eating too much and not moving enough. I didn’t know then that 50-73% of women gain outside the weight recommendations, either too much or too little. Well, then it was me… and I tried. Hard.
I Tried Hard
One of my girlfriends was just a few days ahead of me in pregnancy (BTW total life saver!! Find someone who’s due around your same time!). We chatted all the time about trying to stay active and making nutritious food choices (also the less glamorous things like you should probably get Depends for when you leave the hospital – real talk – and all things baby products). But, try as I might there were definitely some hard and unanticipated things about exercise and proper nutrition and how my body changed.
Lesson #1: It’s not necessarily “your fault” you gained more weight than you “should” have. Your body’s going to do what it needs to do for baby.
I worked out almost every day and did my best to eat mostly good-for-you foods (more on that later) throughout pregnancy.
I exercised pretty intensely 5+ days a week until the last weeks of pregnancy, where I scaled down to walking 3+ days a week. I was able to run sprints halfway through second trimester, do box jumps until 28 weeks, and circuit training classes until 35 weeks. I lifted weights up until the last week or two before delivery. Bottom line, it didn’t matter.
It actually did matter in terms of how I felt, how I felt about myself, and keeping my body healthy for baby, but the work I put in the gym department and trying to eat my veggies didn’t seem to nudge the scale. Who knows, maybe the weight gain would have been more if I didn’t keep moving and eat baby carrots, but my health in other areas that couldn’t exactly be “measured” was more important to me than what the scale said so I kept moving along.
Lesson #2: Your hormones will play tricks on your emotions.
Honestly at the end of pregnancy, I felt like baby had kicked me out of my body (it was hers now!) and that the woman in all the pictures around my house was a stranger. It was a weird feeling. Your hormones can play tricks on how you feel about yourself, how you feel about your body and your self-worth. It’s humbling to ask your husband to tie your shoes for you and skip out on that bike ride because your legs hit your belly now. It’s not glamorous to cross your legs every time you cough or sneeze for fear peeing your pants (wait, am I 5 years old again?!). It’s not particularly fun to wear flip flops to church when it’s 35° outside and look a little disrespectful propping your feet up on a chair for all three hours because you have awful swelling and pitting edema. It will pass and that much-more-comfortable girl in those pictures is still inside – you get to meet her again in just a short while!
Lesson #3: Your food cravings and food aversions don’t care what you normally eat.
Probably a half a dozen times I went to Schlotzky’s and got a kids cheese pizza. Yep. Kids cheese pizza. Oh and I hated cooked vegetables from about halfway through first trimester to halfway through second trimester. So, salads it was! And then there was that one time first trimester I ate an entire box of chocolate-peanut butter Puffins cereal in about 24 hours. Those are all real stories.
It didn’t matter that I actually really love roasted vegetables, or that I prefer salmon, that I don’t usually snack between meals or that I prefer a more balanced breakfast. What mattered was that I actually almost threw up if I ate something that sounded bad to me at the time.
The good news is, the cravings and aversions calm down. What you can do is do the best you can with what you are able to tolerate. Not every meal is so crazy. Unfortunately, spilling everything on yourself doesn’t stop until after delivery, hah!
Lesson #4: You can feel incredibly grateful and miserably uncomfortable at the same time, and that’s ok.
Just because you are extremely grateful for the opportunity to carry a healthy baby does not necessarily negate your experience of physical or emotional hardships like being uncomfortable (like… REALLY uncomfortable), sleeping terribly, sitting sideways because your belly doesn’t fit under the table, having a bottomless bladder, urinary incontinence, literally feeling fluids sloshing in your feet or any other symptom you might encounter. Of course you know it is every bit of worth it, but it’s alright to have a few meltdown moments and then pick yourself back up.
Lesson #5: You are never alone.
Don’t sweat it. If you are feeling down during pregnancy you aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy for feeling that way.
Letting Go of Control & Postpartum Weight Loss
I think the best thing I did during my pregnancy was stop stressing. I just worried about doing me – keep exercising, keep eating as well as I could. If it wasn’t perfect, it was going to be alright.
I also set myself up to recognize that hey, maybe this is my new body. It took almost 10 months to put all the weight on. It’s not going to come off overnight, and that’s okay.
Every Body is Different
Every body is different. Every pregnancy is different. Every postpartum experience is different. In my case, for this pregnancy, I had an insane amount of swelling. I lost over 25 pounds in 10 days after delivery.
I still have a line down my belly (linea negra), my tummy’s more squishy than it’s ever been, I wore maternity jeans postpartum until a week or two ago, and my chest can’t fit into anything with buttons right now, and that’s all okay! I have a healthy, happy baby, and I’ve had a healthy recovery so far. The rest will happen when it happens (I’m following the principles in my Plan Your Plate Guide with increased calories for breastfeeding), and if it’s not “exactly” how it was pre-pregnancy, this little girl was worth it and I’d do it all a thousand times over again.
If you plan to breastfeed, you might want to check out this blog post here – I share how it’s not as easy as it seems (hellllooo cracked nipples) and what gear you’ll definitely want to have.
I learned a lot through my pregnancy experience of gaining (way) more weight than recommended. I’m definitely not suggesting you “try” to do the same, and always check in with your healthcare provider, but if you do gain more than recommended and have an otherwise healthy pregnancy … you aren’t alone and hopefully you are able to keep some perspective… with a few healthy meltdowns of course, hah!
What was your pregnancy experience like?
Did you encounter any of these same feelings or symptoms?
During a healthy pregnancy, women gain weight as the baby grows. This is normal and necessary.
But recent research indicates that excessive weight gain during pregnancy increases health risks for mothers and their children.
So how do you get the right balance?
Weight gain guidelines
Recommended weight gain in pregnancy is based on body weight and body mass index (BMI) prior to becoming pregnant. If your pre-pregnancy BMI is:
Most weight gain occurs from week 13. For some women, body weight will not change too much during the first trimester of pregnancy, particularly for women who have had morning (noon and night) sickness.
Further reading – Health Check: what can you eat to help ease morning sickness in pregnancy?
A recent review covering more than one million pregnancies found half the women gained too much weight. Even women who started pregnancy at a healthy weight (those with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9) typically gained too much weight.
Our study of women in the United Kingdom found excessive weight gain was more common among women who were having their first baby.
Why is it important?
Gaining too much weight in pregnancy can affect the mother’s health. Excess weight gain has been linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes in pregnancy, high blood pressure, and complications during birth.
It can also affect the health of the baby in both the short-term and in the future. In a review of one million pregnancies, mothers who gained too much weight in pregnancy were more likely to have babies with a high birth weight compared to other mothers. Children of the mothers who gained too much weight were then at a higher risk of becoming obese as a child or adult.
Read more: Health Check: eating for two during pregnancy
Excess pregnancy weight gain can also make it more challenging to lose weight after the baby is born. Our recent study showed that women who gained more weight than recommended retained, on average, an extra 4kg six months after their baby was born. Of concern is that this extra weight can still be retained decades after pregnancy. Not shifting those extra few kilos after pregnancy increases the chances of developing obesity in the future.
Not gaining enough weight in pregnancy can also be a problem. Weight gain below the recommendations is associated with having a baby that is small for gestational age, or a preterm birth.
It’s important for women not to try and lose weight during pregnancy. Dieting or limiting food intake could mean the baby doesn’t get enough nutrients needed for their development.
A healthy, varied diet during pregnancy will mean the baby gets the nutrients they need. Carlo Navarro
Five tips for healthy pregnancy weight gain
1. Start a conversation with a doctor or midwife. While talking about weight during antenatal visits can make some pregnant women feel anxious, knowing how much weight is appropriate can help improve the pregnancy outcomes for women and their infants. Having this conversation is important because a doctor or midwife can provide support. They can also refer pregnant women to a dietitian or other service, if needed.
2. Track weight gain from early in pregnancy. Monitoring weight in pregnancy can help keep weight gain “on track”. Try a pregnancy weight tracker; such as this one for women with a pre-pregnancy BMI of less than 25, or this one for women with a pre-pregnancy BMI of more than 25. Start recording weight as early in pregnancy as possible.
Remember every pregnancy is different, and the amount of weight gained each week won’t be identical. But it’s a great way to “keep check” and see whether weight gain patterns are tracking above or below the recommendations.
3. Focus on healthy eating. It’s a myth that you need to “eat for two” during pregnancy. During the first trimester, dietary energy needs (measured in calories or kilojoules) are only slightly higher so the amount of food eaten should remain about the same. But nutrient requirements increase, particularly for folate, iodine and iron, so women need to be mindful of the nutritional quality of food eaten.
While more food energy is needed during the second and third trimester, the amount of extra food is less than most people think. It would be the equivalent of a sandwich (such as egg, beef, hummus or cheese), or a yoghurt and banana. Use the Eat-for-Health Calculator to calculate the recommended daily serves from the five food groups to give you an idea of what you should be eating during pregnancy.
Read more: Health Check: what to eat and avoid during pregnancy
4. Exercise regularly. Being active is important during pregnancy. The national recommendations advise the accumulation of 150 minutes of exercise each week. Many exercises are safe during pregnancy, such as walking, swimming, stationary cycling and pregnancy-specific exercise classes. Doctors, midwives, exercise physiologists and physiotherapists can provide advice about the best options.
5. Enlist the support of a partner and family. Having a healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthily and being active is not just important for the mother and baby in pregnancy, but can also benefit other family members.