You’ve probably heard the phrase, “eating for two,” but experts say you should not be eating significantly more than your normal diet during pregnancy. In fact, you only need 300-400 extra calories per day by the end of the third trimester. Instead, “eating for two” means making the healthiest choices possible for you and your baby while gaining the right amount of weight.
Calculating a healthy weight gain
So what is the magic number of weight you should gain? It depends upon your pre-pregnancy weight and Body Mass Index (BMI). Guidelines issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) can give you an idea of how much you should gain:
- If your BMI is below 18.5 = gain 28 to 40 pounds total
- If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9 = gain 25 to 35 pounds total
- If your BMI is 25 to 29.9 = gain 15 to 25 pounds total
- If your BMI is 30 or greater = gain 11 to 20 pounds total
Remember these numbers might vary if you’re carrying twins or multiples, or if you have health issues. You and your obstetrician can discuss the healthiest weight gain for you. Gaining more than the recommended amount of weight has been associated with less healthy outcomes for mother and baby, including risk of a large baby at birth, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. Mothers who are heavier when they get pregnant may also be at an increased risk for these problems.
Tips for gaining the healthy way
Cravings, morning sickness, fatigue, and other side effects of pregnancy can make it difficult to follow a healthy diet at times. Try to find foods that are palatable to you, and stay away from processed or fast foods whenever possible. Instead, keep fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy available so you can snack when you need to. Protein is especially important for you and your baby during pregnancy, so look for lean, healthy sources like poultry, eggs, and dairy.
Focus on health — not appearance
Pregnancy is not the time to diet, particularly if you’re already underweight. Your baby needs proper nutrients and calories from you in order to grow and thrive. If you have struggled with an eating disorder or are feeling uncomfortable with gaining weight, talk with your obstetrician.
Allow yourself an occasional treat, but try your best to eat nutritious, healthy foods most of the time. See your obstetrician regularly, and you’ll be on the right track for a healthy pregnancy and baby.
CarePoint Health Family Birth Centers
CarePoint Health is dedicated to providing you with the individual care and attention you need so you can relax and focus on what is most important — the birth of your new baby. To learn more about caring for yourself and your baby during pregnancy, view our list of upcoming classes.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.