SolveYourProblem Article Series: Pregnancy
Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know



Nutrition and Weight Gain for Pregnant Women

Nutrition is an essential component of prenatal care, and a healthy diet contributes to a successful pregnancy and awesome fetal growth. Eat enough food to gain weight at the rate recommended by your doctor. This usually means adding about 300 calories to your diet a day. Continue to eat a balanced diet even if you think you are gaining weight too quickly. This can be helpful in controlling your morning sickness, too. Plus, most women gain in spurts. Getting the right amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients required during pregnancy are easier to obtain when your diet is varied.

When you are expecting, donít skip meals. Even if you donít think you are hungry, try to eat at regular times so your body knows when to expect more energy. Do not stop eating foods from essential food groups. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Buy foods that are labeled "enriched" or "fortified" or made of whole grain. Improve iron absorption by including meat, poultry, fish or vitamin C-rich foods to your meals; this will also reduce constipation associated with an iron supplement. Eating right will also help you maintain a healthy weight gain and make it easier to lose the weight once the baby arrives.

You should gain around 25-35 pounds if you were normal weight when you got pregnant. Most doctors recommend increasing your diet by 300 extra calories a day. Basically adding a snack or two will be enough to gain the right amount of weight. A 4-6 pound weight gain is normal the first trimester, but many women lose a few pounds due to morning sickness too. During the second and third trimester, you will probably gain around a pound per week, sometimes more and sometimes less. The weight adds itself in spurts as the baby grows. You probably want to gain more weight if you started out underweight. You need some extra padding to be able to maintain your changing frame and supply the baby with enough nutrients and protection. A 28-40 pound weight gain is considered normal and healthy.

Also, because you probably wonít gain much weight the first trimester, try to gain about a pound and a half per week in the second and third trimesters. Adding Ensure or instant breakfast to your diet can help you gain that extra weight and has plenty of vitamins and minerals. If you started out overweight than you probably donít want to gain more than 15-25 pounds. Whatever you do donít diet it isnít necessary or healthy. You will use your own fat stores to energize your body, so you might even find that even though you gained some weight you look slimmer. Once the baby is born you may find yourself weighing less than before and have an easier time losing more weight.

Gaining the right amount of weight will make it easier to shed pounds after delivery and will prepare your body for breastfeeding. If you're expecting twins, you want to try to gain more weight to accommodate for more babies. The consensus says between 35-50 pounds is normal. Many women will gain more due to genetics. If you have bigger babies than gaining more isn't so bad. Your doctor will monitor your weight and size and keep you informed on what is good. When eating for a multiple pregnancy, be sure to consult your doctor on what is best for you as an individual. Weight restriction may not be a concern as much as healthy babies with the maximum nutrition at their disposal.

Following the dietary guidelines from your doctor will enable you to obtain most of the nutrients required during pregnancy; however, nutritional supplements are often advisable, like energy bars or instant breakfast. Also, supplemental iron may irritate the gastrointestinal tract, so you may want to get a prenatal without iron and just eat more iron enriched foods instead. If you experience discomfort while using a supplement, try taking it with food, taking it in the evening or ask your doctor to recommend another brand. It is important to remember that supplements do not replace good eating habits. Eating the right type of foods that agree with you will always be your best bet and promote a healthy pregnancy and baby.

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