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Eating for 2 -- but Not Too Much

Eating For Two -- But Not Too Much
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WebMD Feature

"You're eating for two" may be a cute adage, but it shouldn't give you license to eat too much -- or the wrong foods -- while pregnant. According to the National Academy of Sciences, pregnant women should gain between 15 and 35 pounds.

The reality is you need only 100 extra calories a day during your first trimester, and 300 extra calories a day in the next two. That means adding the equivalent of an extra glass of milk in the first trimester; a glass of milk, an apple, and a couple of graham crackers in the second and third.

More important than how much you gain is what you eat. Everything you take into your body during pregnancy sets the foundation for building your baby. Studies show that improper nutrition during pregnancy can affect your child's risk for developing problems as an adult, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Too Much or Too Little

The pattern in which you gain weight is also important. It is perfectly normal not to gain any weight until a week or two after you've missed your period. Doctors have found that when women gain weight too quickly early in their pregnancies, they usually keep gaining at a higher rate than normal. Weight gain should be gradual throughout your pregnancy. Shoot for two to four pounds during the first trimester and close to a pound a week in the second and third trimesters.

Watch out for sudden weight gain or loss. If you are experiencing a great deal of nausea and vomiting, you may need help to make sure you're getting proper nutrition. Sudden weight gain can signal rising blood pressure. Call your healthcare provider if you experience either of these scenarios.

Women who gain too little weight risk having a premature baby or one with low birth weight. Newborn complications are related to low birth weight; studies show that weighing too little at birth can predispose your child to diabetes later in life.

Too much weight gain can mean problems for you as well as the baby. Severely overweight women are more prone to hypertension and gestational diabetes, and are more likely to have a cesarean section. Their babies are also usually bigger. Some studies have shown that larger baby girls are at a greater risk for breast cancer when they become adults.

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