Seems like the minute you discover you are pregnant, people start reminding you that you are eating for two and to take it easy. While decades ago that was the advice given to women (and is still what many of those around you may be saying), research has shown that a healthy diet, appropriate weight gain and staying active during pregnancy is the best approach for both you and your baby.
Guidelines for how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy were most recently updated in 2009. These guidelines are based on your pre-pregnancy weight using your body mass index or BMI (a number calculated from your height and weight — you can calculate your BMI with this easy online BMA calculator).
- Women with a pre-pregnancy BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 should gain between 25 to 35 pounds.
- Women with a pre-pregnancy BMI of 25 to 29.9 should gain between 15 to 25 pounds.
- Women with a pre-pregnancy BMI of more than 30 should gain between 10 to 20 pounds.
These are just general guidelines. Be sure to discuss pregnancy and weight gain with your healthcare provider to determine a good target number for you.
So if you’re eating for two, shouldn’t you be doubling your food intake? No. Remember that one of you is the size of a pea and will only grow to be a few pounds at birth. A good rule of thumb is to increase your caloric intake by 100 calories per day during your first trimester, 200 calories per day during your second trimester and 300 calories per day during your third trimester. That doesn’t mean add in a candy bar or milk shake. Those extra calories should be nutrient packed. Lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and whole grains are excellent choices. A baked skinless chicken breast is packed with protein and gives you just about 100 calories. A handful of baby carrots is another good choice. A tablespoon of natural nut butter also gives you 100 calories. Try dipping apple slices in the nut butter for a treat. For more personalized nutrition advice, schedule a consultation with a nutritionist. Your healthcare provider’s office can recommend someone.
In one recent study, more than 70 percent of first-time moms gained more weight during their pregnancy than is recommended. African American, Hispanic/Latina women, and women who are overweight pre-pregnancy also tend to gain more than the recommended amount. Gaining unhealthy weight during pregnancy puts you at risk for developing gestational diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure), and increases your chances of having a C-section. It increases your risk for retaining weight post-pregnancy and obesity later in life. It’s also not healthy for your baby as it is a risk factor for obesity your child as well.
Being active during your pregnancy is also important. While you may spend your first trimester feeling fatigued, still try to get in at least a short walk each day. By your second trimester, you will hopefully have more energy and this may be a good time to get back into the habit of daily exercise. Unless directed differently by your doctor, pregnant women can typically maintain their pre-pregnancy activity level during pregnancy. If you weren’t active before you got pregnant, think of this as an opportunity to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Strive for at least a brisk 30-minute walk each day. During cold or rainy days, that walk can be on an inside track or at the mall.
Pregnancy is such an exciting time for moms and families. During pregnancy, everyone wants to help keep mom and baby healthy and thriving. Eating healthier – not more – and staying active are some of the best ways to ensure that you are giving your baby the best possible start.
Take the next step:
Michelle Moniz, MD, is an Obstetrician-Gynecologist who grew up in Los Angeles, California. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology and English from the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Moniz studied medicine at Washington University in Saint Louis and went on to complete her residency training with the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh/Magee-Women’s Hospital. She sees patients at the Brighton Health Center.
University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital opened in December 2011, offering women a state-of-the-art place to welcome their babies to the world in the most caring and comfortable way possible. From private rooms to birthing tubs, each feature was designed around mom and baby’s every need. Learn more at www.UofMhealth.org/birthcenter.