Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help your baby get the nutrients he or she needs and grow at a healthy rate. But how many extra calories do you really need?
Though you do need some extra calories, it's not necessary to ''eat for two.'' The average pregnant woman needs only about 300 healthy calories more a day than she did before she was pregnant. This will help her gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy.
By Hilda Hutcherson, M.D.
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Ask your health care provider how much weight you should gain. A woman who was average weightbefore getting pregnant should gain 25 to 35 pounds after becoming pregnant. Underweight women should gain 28 to 40 pounds. And overweight women may need to gain only 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.
In general, you should gain about 2 to 4 pounds during the first three months you're pregnant and 1 pound a week during the rest of your pregnancy. If you are expecting twins you should gain 35 to 45 pounds during your pregnancy. This would be an average of 1 ½ pounds per week after the usual weight gain in the first three months.
It's especially important to gain the right amount of weight when you're expecting twins because your weight affects the babies' weight. And because twins are often born before the due date, a higher birth weight is important for their health. When carrying twins, you may need between 3,000 and 3,500 calories a day.
If a woman is very overweight when she gets pregnant, her doctor may want her to lose weight. She should only lose weight under her doctor's care. But in most cases, women should not try to lose weight or diet during pregnancy.
How to Gain the Right Amount of Weight During Pregnancy
If your health care provider wants you to gain weight while you're pregnant, try these tips:
Eat five to six small meals every day.
Keep quick, easy snacks on hand, such as nuts, raisins, cheese and crackers, dried fruit, and ice cream or yogurt.
Spread peanut butter on toast, crackers, apples, bananas, or celery. One tablespoon of creamy peanut butter gives you about 100 calories and 7 grams of protein.
Add nonfat powdered milk to mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and hot cereal.
Add extras to your meal, such as butter or margarine, cream cheese, gravy, sour cream, and cheese.