Gaining weight during pregnancy is natural, expected, and healthy. It is important for the proper development of your baby and the healthy adaptation of your body to its new needs and functions. Although the common saying you are “eating for two” is true in one sense, it is important to keep in mind that your developing baby needs only a small amount of additional nutrients to grow appropriately. By eating and gaining too much, you may put yourself at higher risk of gestational diabetes, a difficult delivery, stubborn postpartum weight, and a number of other health conditions. Learning how to achieve the recommended weight gain during pregnancy without going over is important for your health, and may make losing baby weight after delivery much easier.
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Know your target weight gain for pregnancy: for women at a healthy weight pre-pregnancy, doctors typically recommend gaining 25 to 35 pounds. Underweight women should aim for 28 to 40 pounds, overweight women should aim for 15 to 25 pounds, and obese women should shoot for only 11 to 20 pounds.
If you are pregnant with twins or multiples, women at healthy weights should gain 37 to 54 pounds, overweight women should gain 31 to 50, and obese women should gain 25 to 42 pounds.Aim to gain only 1 to 4 pounds during the first trimester, and about 1 pound per week thereafter depending on your total weight gain needs.
Plan your weekly diet: buying groceries with a weekly meal plan in mind can help reduce the chances you will opt for fast food or load up on unhealthy junk foods.
Taking the time to think through a sample menu for the week can also help you incorporate foods with important nutrients for a balanced diet during pregnancy, such as enriched grains, meats with low fat contents, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Obey cravings in moderation: If you simply can't resist a calling for chocolate cake, ice cream, cheese fries, or another unhealthy food, have a small serving size to satisfy your craving without mindlessly consuming the entire serving.
By measuring out a small portion and putting the rest out of sight, you can reduce the chances of reaching for a second helping. Often, a few small and mindful bites can be just as satisfying as an entire serving, without the eventual guilt or weight gain.
Eat 100 to 300 extra calories per day, starting on the low end and working your way up as your pregnancy advances.
Make sure your extra calories come from healthy foods to avoid empty calories and unhealthy amounts of fat, sugar, and salt. Similarly, keep your diet balanced by avoiding a focus on any single food group. Get your calories from a variety of healthy sources such as whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables.
If you constantly feel hungry, choose foods that are bulky and filling but low in calories, such as popcorn, rice cakes, raw vegetables, salads, soups, yogurt, oatmeal, and fresh fruits. Being able to eat a large quantity of a healthy and low-calorie food may help satisfy your urge to eat without piling on extra pounds.
Sample foods to add 100 calories are a spoonful of peanut butter on fresh celery sticks, a cup of non-fat yogurt with a drizzle of honey, a 1/2 cup of sweet corn with seasonings and a small smear of butter, or 10 tortilla chips.
Examples of snacks and meals of approximately 300 calories include a scrambled egg with buttered toast and fresh strawberries, a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes plus 1 cup of vegetable soup, or a bowl of low-fat granola with 1/2 cup skim milk and a handful of berries.
Restaurant and fast food versions may contain significantly more calories than their homemade counterparts, so ask for low-calorie menu options if available when eating out. Alternately, by preparing foods yourself you can cut out the extra fat, salt, and sugar that many pre-packaged and restaurant foods contain. This will allow you to eat a greater quantity of nutritious food and help save calories and fat that can add unnecessary and unhealthy baby weight.
Eat and drink frequently: Plan on eating about 6 times per day, spreading your calorie consumption over several small meals and a few healthy snacks. Eating every 2 to 3 hours can help keep you energized and less prone to fatigue, swelling, back pain, nausea, and headaches. Frequent eating keeps your metabolism active and your blood sugar stable, which will keep you from overindulging and may reduce your risk of gestational diabetes.
Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated can help reduce the aches and pains associated with pregnancy and may also stave off hunger in between snacks and meals. By drinking a glass of water before eating you may also limit your urge to overeat at meal times.
Avoid sugary and fatty drinks such as flavored coffees, sports drinks, sodas, and whole milk. Opt instead for skim milk or non-dairy alternatives, decaf coffee you flavor or sweeten yourself, a small glass of 100% fruit juice, plain decaf tea, or water.
Keep healthy, pre-measured snacks on hand at home and on the go. By making it convenient to grab a healthy snack in appropriate serving sizes, you reduce the likelihood of purchasing fast food or vending machine options or finishing an entire bag of potato chips when you need a snack.
Incorporate moderate exercise into your daily routine: Regular physical activity can help ease the stress or discomfort of pregnancy while reducing the risk of pregnancy-related health problems or stubborn baby weight.
If you exercised regularly before getting pregnant, you should be able to continue the exercise for most of your pregnancy. Exceptions to this may be those who participated in dangerous, high-intensity, or very strenuous activities. If you previously jogged, swam, danced, biked, or practiced yoga, chances are it will be safe and beneficial for you to continue. Women who surfed, kick-boxed, performed gymnastics, or participated in contact sports should consult a health professional before continuing their exercise routine.
If you were inactive before pregnancy, it is still advisable to begin light forms of exercise, such as taking regular walks or swimming a few laps. If you have existing health conditions or if you struggle with balance or coordination during pregnancy, consult a health professional or physical trainer about safe and simple options for boosting your activity level.