3 Tips for Safe Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Health & Wellness on 08.12.11
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Being 25 weeks pregnant, I am all too aware of my rapidly growing numbers on the scale. It can be shocking, scary, and a bit overwhelming to gain so much weight so quickly. I know that weight gain during pregnancy and a growing belly is a given, but I also know that there are repercussions to gaining too much or too little weight, both for me and my baby.

The key is to find a happy balance.

Research shows that greater weight gains during pregnancy lead to a higher risk of having an overweight child and possibly a child with higher blood pressure. Children who are born too small, which can be a result from inadequate weight gain during pregnancy, are more apt to certain chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes later in life too.

Secrets of Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy

1. Start with the Facts About Pregnancy Weight Gain

The first thing you should know is how much weight is healthy to gain during your pregnancy. The Institute of Medicine sets the current guidelines for pregnancy weight gains. They determine these numbers based on pre-pregnancy BMI. Check your BMI here. Women tend to gain very little weight (1-4 pounds) in the first trimester, however it is standard to gain about 1 pound per week in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.

  • Underweight BMI < 18.5: Gain 28-40 pounds
  • Normal weight BMI 18.5-24.9: Gain 25-35 pounds
  • Overweight BMI 25-29.9: Gain 15-25 pounds
  • Obese BMI >30: Gain 11-20 pounds

2.  Eating for Two is Not True

However often you hear that you are now "eating for two", please do not believe this old saying. As tempting as it is to gorge on foods during pregnancy, as this pregnancy diet research suggests, the outcome will not be pretty. On average, pregnant women need an extra 300 calories per day. This is equivalent to a bowl of cereal or a half sandwich. Choose healthy fiber-rich foods to stay satisfied without adding too many extra calories, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. (I'm not saying I haven't occasionally indulged in an extra helping of ice cream, but everything in moderation!)

3. Control Pregnancy Cravings

There are loads of jokes out there about pregnancy cravings; however I know how real and demanding they can truly be. But giving in to low-nutrient, high-fat cravings can lead to unwanted weight gain. Also, research suggests that babies can be programmed to prefer these foods while in the womb. To control these cravings make sure to eat small meals often. Include a protein or healthy fat with complex carbohydrates.                                    

Whatever your pre-pregnancy diet may have been, consider your pregnancy diet a great opportunity to start fresh.  The foods you eat during your pregnancy are vital to your unborn baby's health, and can help shape your kid's eating habits for the rest of their lives.

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