What is a normal weight gain? Is there a healthy amount to “aim for”? And more importantly, are we really eating for two?
Pregnancy weight gain is inevitable. After all, you will eventually be carrying a baby that will most likely weigh somewhere between six and ten pounds on the day that they make an appearance.
You will have the weight of the placenta
which is an organ you didn’t even have until the pregnancy
– pretty amazing, right? On top of this, you will have the extra weight from the amniotic fluid which surrounds the baby in the amniotic sac. All of these things carry weight and lead to a weight gain during the course of your pregnancy.
But what is a normal weight gain? Is there a healthy amount to “aim for”? And more importantly, are we really eating for two?
In terms of a specific weight gain, your GP will be able to advise you on this as the recommendation can vary from person to person. For example, an underweight woman should gain more weight than an overweight woman. In general, though a woman who is of average weight will gain somewhere between 25 and 35 pounds during her pregnancy. If you are carrying multiples the weight gain will, of course, be greater.
During the first trimester of your pregnancy, you should ideally gain between two and four pounds. For the rest of your pregnancy, the weight gain should settle at about one pound per week. This is not always the case for every woman though.
During the first three months of pregnancy, many women experience pregnancy sickness which can actually lead to a weight loss during these weeks. Many women will also find that they gain no weight for a number of weeks and then an inexplicably large amount on other weeks or during that last trimester. Your care team will keep a close eye on your weight, blood pressure and blood/urine to make sure that you are in good pregnancy health regardless.
You can help to manage your pregnancy weight gain by focusing on a healthy balanced diet where possible. During the first trimester, this may be difficult if you are experiencing pregnancy nausea but most women feel a lot better in the second trimester and tend to enjoy a variety of foods once again.
You should try to include as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible as well as choosing whole-grains and fibre rich foods wherever you can. Plenty of protein in the form of lean meat, beans and pulses will keep you fuller for longer and drinking plenty of fluids will help your body to operate more efficiently. It will also help you with any bowel issues which may strike you during the pregnancy.
Eating for two is a bit of a myth though. Rather than eating double the amount considering that your pregnant body actually only needs about 300 extra calories a day. That could be a simple case of adding an extra bit of meat to your plate, having another slice of bread or adding some nuts and seeds to your salad.
Avoiding very sugary or fast foods where possible is always a good idea. Consuming too much of these foods can lead to high blood pressure and the threat of gestational diabetes which may then require a specific pregnancy diet and keeping an extra close eye on your baby.
Inadequate nutrition during your pregnancy can have a negative effect on how you feel in terms of your energy levels and general health. It can also affect the baby’s development as the placenta allows everything you consume to pass through to the baby. There are so many benefits to having a healthy wholesome diet when you are pregnant. Everything in moderation but where possibly choose healthy nutritious foods for you and your growing bundle.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.