Women who have spent years watching their weight or feeling the pressure to stay or get thin might see pregnancy as an escape from calorie-counting and waist-watching — or healthy eating habits in general. They think that since their bellies will grow and weight gain is inevitable, why not just eat whatever they want!
While it’s true you don’t have to worry about fitting into those size 4 jeans for a while, healthy eating is especially important during pregnancy. You and your baby need more vitamins and minerals, especially extra protein, iron, calcium, and folic acid, than when you were just eating for you.
But make sure those extra vitamins and minerals don’t pack a lot of extra calories. Experts urge you to take in about 300 more calories a day than you normally would. And don’t forget, the majority of the weight you put on during pregnancy is still going to be there after you give birth.
Most importantly, eating well and gaining the recommended amount of weight, per your OB/GYN, is important to the health of your pregnancy, your baby and you.
When you come to OBGYN Care of Houston for a prenatal visit, a board-certified OB/GYN specialist offers recommendations for healthy eating and weight gain, personalized for you and your pregnancy. She will determine your body mass index (BMI), which helps in figuring out how much weight gain is healthy.
Not everyone starts their pregnancy at the same weight, so it only makes sense that their weight gain recommendations won’t be the same, either.
General guidelines on weight gain during pregnancy from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are as follows. If you started your pregnancy:
If you’re carrying twins, it’s not surprising that the recommended weight gain is greater. It’s also important to note that you should gain weight gradually, and gain most of it toward the end of your pregnancy.
If you gain too much — or too little — weight compared with experts’ recommendations, you are not alone. Almost half of all pregnant women gain more than the recommended amount; about 20% gain less. But just because it’s common to fall outside the target your OB/GYN sets, you’re not off the hook for perhaps having to deal with some consequences.
Gaining too much weight can lead to complications for you and your baby, such as gestational diabetes, hypertension, and difficulties during birth. Furthermore, extra weight can lead to obesity for you and your child. One study found that women who were not able to take off their baby weight six months after giving birth were at higher risk for obesity 10 years later.
While you should not go crazy eating during your pregnancy, it’s also not the right time to diet. If you don’t consume enough vitamins and minerals or calories throughout your pregnancy, it can be harmful to your baby. You may give birth to a baby with low birthweight, which comes with its own risks. Low birthweight babies may have trouble nursing, be more prone to illness, and experience developmental delays.
There is no need to stress out about your weight or the health of your baby. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and follow the advice of the OB/GYN team at OBGYN Care of Houston to ensure a healthy pregnancy.