Managing your weight during pregnancy is important for you and your baby. It reduces your risk of birth complications and promotes healthy development. It also helps you to get back in shape after delivery.
However, only 32% of expectant mothers gain the recommended amount of weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Almost half gain too much and 21% gain too little.
These figures suggest that eating for two can be more complicated than it sounds. While only your doctor can assess your individual needs, you may be surprised to discover how few extra calories most women need.
Help you and your baby to make a healthy start. Find out what you need to know with this guide to watching your weight during pregnancy.
- Set goals. While each pregnancy is unique, there are general guidelines to keep in mind. Most experts suggest a weight gain of about 25 to 35 pounds if you’re average weight, 30 to 40 pounds if you’re underweight, and 25 pounds or less if you’re overweight or obese.
- Break it down. If your baby weighs only about 8 pounds, what accounts for the rest of the total? That represents other changes related to pregnancy, including increased blood volume and fat to prepare for breastfeeding.
- Stay on schedule. When you gain weight matters too. Most women require no extra calories during the first trimester, and then about 300 extra calories daily during the second and third trimester to gain about a pound a week.
- Extra preparation for twins. You’ll probably need to gain more weight if you’re expecting multiple births. Your doctor can help you determine your specific needs.
- Eat often. If you find it difficult to put on weight, try eating more than 3 meals a day. Add an extra serving or two into your morning and late afternoon.
- Carry snacks. Make those extra calories nutritious. Keep a cooler with vegetables and yogurt in your car. Store almonds and sunflower seeds in your handbag.
- Add fats. Increasing your fat intake can be a convenient way to consume more. Use a little extra oil and butter while cooking. Switch to whole fat dairy products.
- Start early. If you’re overweight and not pregnant yet, you may want to reduce before you conceive. Slimming down increases your fertility and lowers your risk for conditions like gestational diabetes.
- Follow up. Losing weight during pregnancy is rarely recommended. Unless your doctor says otherwise, be patient and plan on dieting after you deliver.
- Avoid extras. On the other hand, it’s usually okay to slow down if you’re gaining too much weight too quickly. Start by making small changes like cutting back on sugar and salt.
- Focus on whole foods. Pregnant women can eat the same balanced diet as anyone else for the most part. Try to get most of your calories from vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Make safe choices. Keep in mind that you are more vulnerable to foodborne toxins when you’re expecting. Play it safe and avoid foods like raw cookie dough, undercooked meat, and fish that is high in mercury.
- Stay active. Physical exercise will help you to manage your weight and deal with stress. Experts recommend about 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, such as walking or prenatal exercise classes.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for prenatal visits and discuss your concerns about weight gain and other issues. A healthy diet and proper medical care will increase your chances for a safe pregnancy and a happy baby.