Gain Weight Safely During Your Pregnancy

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.

Ask your health care provider how much weight you should gain. A woman who was average weight before 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.

Where Does the Extra Weight Go During Pregnancy?

  • Baby: 8 pounds
  • Placenta: 2-3 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid: 2-3 pounds
  • Breast tissue: 2-3 pounds
  • Blood supply: 4 pounds
  • Stored fat for delivery and breastfeeding: 5-9 pounds
  • Larger uterus: 2-5 pounds
  • Total: 25-35 pounds

Is It Safe to Lose Weight When Pregnant?

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.

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What if You Gain Too Much Weight During Pregnancy?

If you have gained more weight than your doctor recommended, talk to your doctor about it. In most cases, you'll want to wait until after delivery to lose weight.

Here are some tips to slow your weight gain:

  • When eating fast food, choose lower-fat items such as broiled chicken breast sandwich with tomato and lettuce (no sauce or mayonnaise), side salad with low-fat dressing, plain bagels, or a plain baked potato. Avoid foods such as French fries, mozzarella sticks, or breaded chicken patties.
  • Avoid whole milk products. You need at least four servings of milk products every day. However, using skim, 1%, or 2% milk will greatly reduce the amount of calories and fat you eat. Also, choose low-fat or fat-free cheese or yogurt.
  • Limit sweet or sugary drinks. Sweetened drinks such as soft drinks, fruit punch, fruit drinks, iced tea, lemonade, or powdered drink mixes have lots of empty calories. Choose water, club soda, or mineral water to skip extra calories.
  • Don't add salt to foods when cooking. Salt causes you to retain water.
  • Limit sweets and high-calorie snacks. Cookies, candies, donuts, cakes, syrup, honey, and potato chips have a lot of calories and little nutrition. Try not to eat these foods every day. Instead, try fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, angel food cake with strawberries, or pretzels as lower-calorie snack and dessert choices.
  • Use fats in moderation. Fats include cooking oils, margarine, butter, gravy, sauces, mayonnaise, regular salad dressings, sauces, lard, sour cream, and cream cheese. Try lower-fat alternatives.
  • Cook food the healthy way. Frying foods in oil or butter will add calories and fat. Baking, broiling, grilling, and boiling are healthier preparation methods.
  • Exercise. Moderate exercise can help burn excess calories. Walking or swimming is usually safe for pregnant women. Ask your health care provider what exercise would be right for you before getting started.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on May 12, 2016

Sources

SOURCE: 

The March of Dimes.

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