For most women, weight gain during pregnancy can be a major source of stress for the expecting mother. Will I gain too much weight? Should I watch what I eat? Will I keep the weight on after delivery? Did You Know that the percentage of women considered overweight and obese before pregnancy soared 47 percent between 1993 and 2003. Being overweight/obese prior to pregnancy can put you and your baby at risk for complications: gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, c-sections, preterm birth, still birth, defects, etc. Experts mention that the best way to reduce these risks is to achieve a healthy weight before conceiving. If that's not possible, the next best thing is avoiding excess weight gain during pregnancy.
Simply put, good nutrition and being physically active can help you maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.
How much total weight should I gain?
The amount of weight you should gain depends on your weight before pregnancy.
- 25-37 pounds if you were a healthy weight before pregnancy.
- 28-40 pounds if you were underweight before pregnancy.
- 15-25 pounds if you were overweight before pregnancy.
At what rate should I gain weight during my pregnancy?
How much you should gain depends on your weight before you were pregnant and how far along you are.
- Healthy weight before pregnancy:
- 3-5 pounds during the first trimester
- Approximately 1-2 pounds per week in the second trimester
- Approximately 1-2 pounds per week in the third trimester
- Underweight before pregnancy:
- 5-6 pounds or more in your first trimester; this also can depend on how underweight you were before pregnancy & your health care provider's recommendations
- 1-2 pounds per week in the second and third trimesters
- Overweight before pregnancy:
- Approximately 1-2 pounds in the first trimester
- Approximately 1 pound per week during the last six months
To get a scientifically sound approach to eating right during pregnancy visit http://www.mypyramid.gov/mypyramidmoms/pyramidmoms_plan.aspx
The United States Department of Agriculture recently launched an addition to its MyPyramid.gov Web site called “MyPyramid Plan for Moms.” This interactive tool provides individualized nutrition guidance to meet the needs of expectant and new moms alike.
The MyPyramid Plan for Moms also includes recommendations for pregnancy and breast feeding. This tool provides a convenient and free educational resource to help women who are pregnant or breast feeding understand their needs and make wise food choices.For your convenience, I have highlighted a few nutrition tips to help you maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy:
- Eat five to six small, frequent meals every day.
- Keep snacks on hand: nuts, dried fruit, cheese and crackers, dried fruit, and yogurt.
- Spread peanut butter on toast, crackers, or fruit/vegetables. One tablespoon of creamy peanut butter will provide about 100 calories and seven grams of protein.
- Add nonfat powdered milk to foods such as mashed potatoes and hot cereal.
- Use salt in moderation. It makes you retain water.
- Avoid eating at fast food restaurants. Food is loaded with salt and saturated fats.
- Use fat in moderation.
- You may have a craving for sugar. Keep this to a minimum.
- Use 1% or non-fat milk whenever possible.
- NEVER diet during pregnancy!
- If you are gaining weight too fast, cut back on the calories you are currently eating.
If you follow a regular exercise plan prior to your pregnancy, you should be able to continue the plan to some degree throughout your pregnancy. Exercise does not increase your risk for a miscarriage.
- If you are just starting an exercise program to help manage weight gain during pregnancy, start very slowly. Talk to your health care provider to see if this is advisable.
- Do not over exert yourself. Do what you can. Your body will give you signals that it is time to reduce the intensity of your workouts. Never exercise to the point of exhaustion.
- Wear comfortable footwear that gives enough ankle and arch support. Even though your footwear might be very helpful, avoid any steep terrains while running or riding. At this point, you have a higher right of getting a sprain.
- Take frequent breaks, and drink plenty of fluids during exercise.
- Avoid exercising in hot weather.
- Weight training is good. However, focus on strengthening your abdominal and upper body areas. Avoid doing movements that strain your lower back.
- During the 2nd & 3rd trimesters, avoid exercise that involves lying flat on your back.
- Include relaxation and stretching before and after your sessions.