When you’re pregnant, you want to give your baby everything they need—but it’s easy to go overboard, especially with food! Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential to getting your baby the nutrients they need to grow at a healthy, sustainable rate. But how do you know how much is too much?
Pregnancy Weight Gain
It’s true, you need to pack in some extra calories when you’re pregnant, but there’s no need to “eat for two.” The average woman needs only about 300 extra calories every day, and they should be healthy calories. Talk to your doctor about how much weight you should gain while you’re pregnant, because it depends on your specific body type and lifestyle habits.
A woman who was an average weight for her height and body type before getting pregnant should gain somewhere between 25-35 pounds. If she is over or under a healthy weight for her body type, that number will vary. Every woman is different, but on average you’ll gain about two to four pounds during the first three months, and then one pound per week during the rest of your pregnancy.
Twins, of course, are a different story! If you’re pregnant with twins, you’ll typically gain 35 to 45 pounds during pregnancy. That works out to an average of 1 ½ pounds per week after the “usual” weight gain during the first three months. Carrying twins also means that it’s especially important to gain the right amount of weight—they’re often born before their due date, so a higher birth weight is important for their health. With twins, you may need between 3,000 to 3,500 calories a day.
Where Does the Extra Weight Go?
25 to 35 pounds can sound like a lot when the average baby is born weighing only 7.5 pounds! So where does your other poundage go? Don’t worry—it’s all serving a very important purpose!
- 2-3 pounds: placenta
- 2-3 pounds: amniotic fluid
- 2-3 pounds: breast tissue
- 4 pounds: blood supply
- 5-9 pounds: stored fat for delivery/breastfeeding
- 2-5 pounds: growing uterus
Tips for Gaining a Healthy Amount of Weight During Pregnancy
If you doctor wants you to gain weight while pregnant, they’ll have advice specific to you and your pregnancy, but here are a few tips to start with.
- Eat five to six meals every day
- Keep quick and easy snacks on hand, like nuts, raisins, cheese and crackers, dried fruit, or yogurt
- Spread peanut butter on whatever you can! Toast, crackers, apples, or bananas—one tablespoon of creamy peanut butter provides about 100 calories
- Add extras to your meals like butter or margarine, cream cheese, gravy, sour cream, or cheese
If you and your doctor feel you’re having the opposite problem, and you’re trying to slow down your weight gain, we have some tips for that as well.
If you’re eating fast food, try to choose lower-fat items like broiled chicken breast, and leave the sauce or mayonnaise off of your sandwiches. Order a side salad with low-fat dressing and keep your baked potatoes and bagels plain. Avoid french fries, mozzarella sticks, and breaded chicken patties.
Avoid whole milk products. Although you need at least four servings of milk products every day, 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 your sweet and sugary drinks like soft drinks, fruit punch, iced tea, lemonade, or powdered drink mixes have a lot of empty calories. Substitute them for water, club soda, or mineral water to skip those extra calories.
Salt adds flavor to everything, but you might have to sacrifice it in your recipes if you’re trying to slow your weight gain. Salt causes you to retain water, so try to avoid salting your food when cooking.
Use fats like cooking oils, margarine, butter, gravy, sauces, mayonnaise, lard, sour cream, etc. in moderation. When you’re looking, try lower-fat alternatives instead! Besides altering your diet, moderate exercise can help burn excess calories. Walking or swimming are great options for most pregnant women, but be sure to consult your doctor about what’s safe for you.
For more expert maternity care and tips, contact RMC today.