The fear of gaining too much weight plays on the minds of most pregnant women. Pregnancy, however, is not a period during which women should diet. All pregnant women should gain weight. We’re here to inform you about how much weight you should gain, and how to do so in a healthy manner.
Steady weight gain during pregnancy ensures that your baby grows well and prepares your body for breastfeeding. Women commonly believe that they should eat for two. This is a widespread myth and is not recommended! You need to increase your intake by around 100-300 calories per day than you normally consume. This is equal to around one cup of rice, or a chicken sandwich. Not much is it?
The amount of weight that you should ideally gain during pregnancy depends on your weight pre-pregnancy. If you are overweight pre-pregnancy (BMI > 25) then you are expected to gain less weight than you would if you were underweight pre-pregnancy (for more details on BMI refer to the article entitled Diabetes 1010 under ‘His & Her Health’). In general, it is recommended that you gain 2-3kg in your first trimester, and 0.5kg every week thereafter. In order to be more specific, identify the BMI category under which you fall, and accordingly find out how much weight you should gain:
|Category||BMI||Recommended weight gain (kg) – Single pregnancy||Recommended weight gain (kg) – Twin pregnancy|
So, where does all this weight go? During pregnancy, your body undergoes many physiological changes that contribute to this weight gain. Your blood volume increases by around 50%, and your tissues increase in size, displayed mainly by the increase in breast size. Below are more details on where those extra kilos go:
|Increase in body fluids||1.4-1.8kg|
|Increase in blood volume||1.4-1.8kg|
|Breast growth||1 kg|
Source: Mayo Clinic
So, if you gain the recommended amount of weight, you’ll lose around 75% of it on the day of your delivery!
Not only is it important for you to gain weight, but also equally important for those kilos to come from nutritious foods that are healthy for both you and your little one. Below are some tips that will help guide you:
- Go for whole grains. Examples of these are whole grain cereals, whole grain bread, brown pasta, and oats. Whole grains are rich in fiber that not only keep you feeling full, but also alleviate pregnancy-related constipation and help control blood sugar by slowing down sugar absorption.
- Choose lean proteins. Proteins are found in lean meat, chicken and fish, but are also found in legumes, nuts and seeds. Lean proteins will provide you with the nutrients that you require (such as iron) without taking in unnecessary fat.
- Enjoy fruits and vegetables. Try to include vegetables in your main meals, and enjoy some fruit skewers as snacks. These are loaded with antioxidants and fiber, both of which will benefit you and your developing baby.
- Resort to low-fat dairy. Most dairy products contain a significant amount of saturated fat. For this reason, turn to low fat alternatives. Blend yourself a low-fat banana smoothie, or add some low fat cheese to your sandwich. Dairy products provide you with the calcium that your baby needs for teeth, bone and nerve development.
- Choose healthy fats. These are found in olive oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and olives. They help in the development of the brain and vision of your child.
Try your best to fight the sugar cravings you might encounter and take in the extra calories that you require from healthy food choices. Turning to soft drinks, cakes, pies and fat-rich foods will do nothing but cause excess weight gain. This will mean spending more hours at the gym once you’ve delivered!
This article offers general advice and may not be applicable to you. Before making any changes to your diet, be sure to consult a qualified healthcare professional.