Pregnancy Weight Gain: What’s Healthy and What’s Not

Here are straightforward guidelines for how much weight a woman should gain during her pregnancy.

Just how many pounds equate to healthy pregnancy weight gain? Let’s first put to bed—permanently—the myth that “eating for two” means eating for two adults. This idea should never serve as a food-intake guideline for the expectant woman.

According to Mayoclinic.com, there’s no cookie cutter template that applies to every woman. However, Mayoclinic.com provides some easy guidelines that are based on a woman’s pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI).

You can easily figure out your BMI using any of the online BMI instant calculating tools; just enter your pre-pregnancy weight, and your height, then click the calculate button. If you’re not expecting, that’s even easier because you know your precise weight.

 Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines Based on Pre-Pregnancy BMI

  • BMI under 18.5 (underweight): 28-40 lbs.
  • BMI 18.5-24.9 (normal weight): 25-35 lbs.
  • BMI 25-29.9 (overweight): 15-25 lbs.
  • BMI 30+ (obese): 11-20 lbs.

Unintentionally venturing a little outside of these guidelines (in either direction) doesn’t automatically mean trouble as long as you take excellent care of your body and eat nutritiously.

Focus on healthful sources of protein, complex carbohydrates and “good” fats like those found in nuts, seeds and olive oil, and make a stern point to limit junk foods and heavily processed foods.

An occasional indulgence, however, won’t hurt. Just make sure you don’t overdo it or find yourself eating extra portions as a response to stress or anxiety. If a craving gets the best of you, practice portion control, though that’s not always easy.

 Tips for Underweight Women

Some women do not eat enough, and hence, are underweight. Being under-nourished throughout a pregnancy can result in a smaller and/or premature baby. But filling up on sugary sodas, bacon and donuts won’t make you healthier.

To get in more calories, make high quality foods the foundation of your diet: grilled fish, whole eggs, wild game, grass-fed beef and poultry. Eat potatoes, rice, barley, oats, lentils, beans and organic dairy, plus eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and salads. Keep snacks handy like nuts, whole grain crackers, cheese and yogurt, and add butters, sour cream and cheese to foods.

A chicken salad sandwich on a whole grain roll, with a tossed salad and cottage cheese, plus a fruit smoothie, is a far superior lunch for you and your baby than is consuming a plate heaping with French fries, then polishing off three ice cream sandwiches in the name of putting on weight or satisfying hunger.

 Tips for Overweight Women

Too much pregnancy weight gain can lead to problems for the mother in the form of battling to lose it after the baby is born (not to mention the increased risk of gestational diabetes), plus an increase in the baby’s risk of medical issues at birth, as well as create a risk for childhood obesity.

An overweight woman who wants to lose weight during her pregnancy to avoid negative consequences should never embark on this plan without ongoing supervision from her OB/GYN.

There’s a big difference between “going on a diet” to lose weight, and incidentally losing weight as a result of ditching worthless, high-sugar, junky foods and replacing them with health-giving foods.

If an overweight expectant woman focuses on healthful food choices and listens to her body’s hunger signals, loss of unneeded bodyfat will be the natural result. No fad or gimmicky diets are necessary.

 For All Pregnant Woman

Daily brisk walks or pedaling exercise and a program of moderate strength training (avoid intense workouts) will help prevent excess fat gain, may promote increased hunger for the underweight woman and will help build her strength, and will create a more durable body for women of all sizes. Swimming is also a good form of exercise.

Exercise should always be conducted per the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology exercise guidelines for expectant women.

[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About the Author”]Jillita Horton is a certified personal trainer whose writing focuses on fitness, nutrition, health and medical topics.[/stextbox]

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