Secrets to Successful Weight Gain During Pregnancy

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There are many misconceptions about pregnancy and weight.  Here you’ll find the secrets of weight gain during pregnancy so you can optimize the health of both you and your baby.

1. Know how much weight gain during pregnancy is healthy. In order to be smart about pregnancy and weight, you’ll need to start with the facts.

Recommended weight gain is based on your weight before pregnancy. To calculate your pre-pregnancy weight to your BMI go here. As women get into the second trimester they tend to gain about one pound per week which is likely to slow down as the birth approaches.

BMI <18.5 – 28-40 pounds (1# per week in 2nd and 3rd trimesters)
BMI 18.5-24.9 – 25-35 pounds (1# per week in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters)
BMI >25-29.9 – 15-25 pounds (.6 pounds per week in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters)
BMI >30 — 11-20 pounds (.5 pounds per week in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters)
Twin pregnancies normal weight: (37-54),  overweight (31-50) and obese (25-42)

2) Understand the risk of an overweight/underweight pregnancy. Women need to gain a certain amount of weight due to increased blood flow (and other bodily fluids), the placenta, fetus, amniotic fluid and some extra fat stores. Gaining too much or too little weight during pregnancy comes with some potential consequences:
–Normal weight gain is linked to better pregnancy outcomes
–Excess weight gain during pregnancy may increase the likelihood of premature birth, larger babies at birth and overweight children later in life and inadequate weight gain is associated with intrauterine growth retardation and low birth weight.
–Women who gain too much weight are at higher risk to become obese after the pregnancy

3. Don’t fall into the “excuse to eat syndrome:” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “You can eat as much as you want because your pregnant.” Women can still gain weight from eating too much food. Yes, calorie needs go up – as does hunger – but to go overboard and eat more just because of a pregnancy is a bad idea. Instead, focus on the foods your body and baby need (see Top Ten Foods) and include your favorite treats in moderation.

4. Use your pregnancy as an opportunity: This is the first chance you have to help shape your child’s future eating habits. Use your pregnancy as an opportunity to work on your eating habits so you can provide your unborn baby with vital nutrition and gear up to be a positive role model.
–Notice your hunger: Tune into your hunger signals and stop eating when you’re full. You’ll be amazed how your body will regulate how much food you need during pregnancy.
–Keep track of your weight gain but don’t obsess about it – it’s a guide to help you see where you are.
–Notice how eating from the Top Ten Food list makes you feel – and take pride that you are doing your best for your baby and yourself.
–Eat your favorite high-calorie foods in smaller portions – enjoy them thoroughly and continue to do so after the pregnancy. Think about how dieting makes you overeat these very foods you love!

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March of Dimes: Pregnancy Weight Gain

 ADA Position Paper: Nutrition and Lifestyle for a Healthy Pregnancy Outcome. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108:553-561.