Pregnancy weight gain is one of the biggest concerns for many mothers-to-be. Although it’s unavoidable (and healthy) to put on a few pounds when you’re expecting, doing so in a healthy way is important.
Despite the fact that you’re technically eating for two, remember you aren’t eating for two adults—a developing baby requires significantly less food than a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Here’s a look at what healthy prenatal weight gain really looks like.
Weight Gain Guidelines
Standard guidelines for healthy maternal weight gain are based on pre-pregnancy weight. A woman carrying a single fetus within the BMI guidelines for her size should gain between 25 to 35 pounds. However, women who are significantly underweight should aim higher—around 28 to 40 pounds. Conversely, those who are overweight should try to keep weight gain down to 15 to 25 pounds, and women with a BMI considered obese should only gain between 11 to 20 pounds. A pregnancy with multiple babies increases the recommended weight gain. Every woman’s body is different, so ask your physician about the best amount of weight gain for you.
Importance of Gaining Healthy Weight
A healthy weight becomes even more important during pregnancy. The risks of staying underweight during pregnancy include a less healthy baby, higher chance of premature birth, and greater possibility for birth defects as a result of improper nutrition. Overweight mothers may face issues like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and urinary infections, all of which can have a negative impact on both mom and baby. These conditions can cause issues such as jaundice, childhood obesity, low birth weight, and other complications.
Proper Caloric Intake
Appropriate weight gain, again, is very personal, so talk to your doctor about how much you should gain and how quickly. However, most pregnant women should increase caloric intake by about 300 calories. These calories have to come from good sources, not an extra serving of french fries. Foods that are nutritious and calorie-dense can include leafy greens, melons and other fresh fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, Greek yogurt, cheese, milk, and other sources of lean protein. Eating a greater variety of foods ensures a greater variety of nutrients.
Being pregnant doesn’t mean you can slack on your activity level, either. In addition to a healthy diet, be sure you engage in moderate exercise. Most experts recommend at least a 30-minute walk most days of the week. If you were very active before pregnancy, there’s no reason to give that up. However, you should plan to reduce your intensity by a little less than a third. Regular exercise not only keeps your body healthier, it makes pregnancy weight easier to get rid of and can make labor and delivery less difficult. If you aren’t regularly active, talk to your doctor about the appropriate level of exercise to begin with. Not all activities are appropriate during pregnancy, although many are easily adjustable.