Pregnancy Weight Gain
Pregnancy weight gain is unavoidable. However, pregnancy does not give you the license to overeat yourself nor is pregnancy the time to count calories. Both excessive and inadequate pregnancy weight gain pose potentially serious health risks for both the expecting mother and her baby. For that reason it is highly important to follow the recommendations for healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
How much weight you should gain during pregnancy depends on several factors, in the first place your overall health and pre-pregnancy weight. The newest guidelines that base on the body mass index or BMI (formula : mass(lb) x 703 / (height (in))²) before pregnancy recommend weight gain of total:
- 28-40 pounds for underweight women (BMI less than 18.5)
- 25-35 pounds for women with a normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9)
- 15-25 pounds for overweight women (BMI 25-29.9)
- and 11-20 pounds for obese women (BMI more than 30).
The new guidelines are virtually the same to the old ones except that they recommend less weight gain for overweight and obese pregnant women. However, the pounds alone do not show the whole picture because you do not need just more calories but more essential nutrients too in order to provide your baby optimal conditions for growth and development.
During the first trimester, it is recommendable to gain only a few pounds and consume up to extra 200 calories a day which is good considering that morning sickness and food aversions may reduce your appetite. The good news is that the morning sickness will go away by the second trimester when steady pregnancy weight gain is highly important. From the beginning of the second trimester to labor, you should gain about 1 pound per week if you were underweight or had a healthy body weight at conception. Women who started pregnancy overweight or obese should aim to gain ½ pound per week. If carrying twins or other multiples, however, you will need to gain more weight during pregnancy.
The amount of extra calories a day that will enable you to achieve the recommended weight gain vary greatly from one women to another. In addition, some pregnant women have no difficulties gaining no more than the recommended weight without paying much attention to calories, while the others need to watch for every bite not to exceed the recommended weight gain. There is no need to be concerned for few pounds more or less because they probably will not affect the growth and development of your baby nor the course of pregnancy. However, talk to your doctor or midwife if you have any doubts or concerns.
Although pregnancy is not the time to lose weight or count calories, you do not have to overload yourself with foods that are high in calories and low in nutritional value either. If you are concerned about gaining too much weight, you can still control weight gain during pregnancy by avoiding fast foods, replacing whole milk products with low-fat dairy products, limiting sweets and sugary beverages, and use fats in moderate amounts. Exercise can help you keep your weight in check as well but make sure that you consult with your doctor before starting any kind of exercise.
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