It’s a rare mother or mother-to-be anywhere who has failed to think about weight gain during pregnancy. There’s always our worry about our girlish figures, of course, but more important by far is how weight gain affects the health of the baby we’re carrying. There was a time when we believed that a pregnant woman was someone whose strange cravings and huge appetite were to be indulged and smiled at. Better science now tells us that both the amount of weight and the rate at which one gains it are important.
If you understand the reasons that doctors tell us that controlling our weight during pregnancy is especially important, you may find it easier to continue your exercise program and stick to a balanced diet. Too many women fail in their efforts to keep their eating in check. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control have released the results of a survey of new mothers across the United States that found that 50% of them gained more than the healthy number of pounds during their pregnancies. This lack of control can result in problems for both mother and baby. Moms can suffer from gestational diabetes, dangerously elevated blood pressure and an increased risk of C-sections. The effects on the baby include obesity in later years, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
In addition to the health risks of overeating, you shouldn’t overlook the fact that you may well find the post-pregnancy pounds more difficult to lose than you expect. Our forebears had an advantage in shedding that weight. Most of them were at home, chasing one or more kids all day and doing a lot of physical housework. Today’s new moms often have an extended time at home with the baby, then return to a very sedentary job behind a desk, and pounds persist.
How Much Can You Gain?
“So, how much should I gain?” you ponder. There is no one right answer to that question. The pounds you are justified in putting on are dependent on your dimensions prior to becoming pregnant. The first number you should become familiar with is your BMI or body mass index. This figure provides an estimate of your body fat based on your height and weight. (WebMD provides a tool to calculate BMI.) Generally speaking, however, if your BMI is at the higher end of the scale, you should gain less. if you fall into the lower BMI range, you should add more pounds. A consideration beyond your BMI is the number of babies you are carrying. Obviously, more babies use more calories, thus affecting the range of pounds that would be appropriate for you to add.
One of the times in life during which it’s just fine to put on weight is during your pregnancy. You should not, however, see it as an open season on food. The pounds you add should be the result of a gradual gain resulting from an increased intake of healthful calories, not ice cream and potato chips. Your weight increase should follow guidelines based on the trimester you’re in. During the first three months, your gain should be minimal. No more than 150-200 calories a day should be added, as your baby is quite small.
As you glide into that fourth month, hopefully past any morning sickness and starting to feel like you really are pregnant, aim for about a pound added weekly. You should now be eating about 300 calories daily above your pre-pregnancy intake. Remember, we’re talking about things like turkey breast, skim milk, low-fat yogurt, etc. Your baby is developing and requiring more nutrition, so add some good snacks to help you keep up with demand.
Rounding the bend into the last trimester, keep a close eye on the scale. You want to be adding between 3/4 and 1 pound each week, putting on a total of 10 to 14 pounds. Your weight gain may drop as you approach your delivery date, so maintain an awareness of what your body is doing with the food you’re consuming and adjust your eating accordingly.
In other words, when it comes to eating right and gaining a healthy amount of weight, you need to sit up and take notice. It is really important. By putting on the suggested number of pounds, you can better the odds that you will produce a baby that has had the necessary time to develop before birth. The probability of having a child that is neither underweight nor too big when delivered increases with the controlled weight gain of the mother.
Because no two women nor pregnancies are the same, the best path to follow is to communicate openly and often with your doctor or nurse-midwife. Ask relevant questions and listen to the answers. Follow the guidelines they establish in your individual case. Remember that how you eat affects not only your health but also the lifelong wellness of your child. Being a great mother starts long before the delivery date.