Pregnancy weight gain is a natural part of having a baby. Increased blood volume, increased fluid volume and increased fat stores are all needed to grow a healthy infant and those increases result in additional pounds for mom. The recommended gains depend on both the mother’s and the baby’s health. When choosing foods to eat during pregnancy, mothers should avoid junk foods and concentrate on foods that are rich in nutrients. Appropriate exercise will also keep pregnancy weight gain from exceeding recommended levels.
The recommended pregnancy gains for women depends largely on their weight before the pregnancy. Women who are underweight, with a body mass index of 18.5 or less, should add between 28 and 40 pounds. Women who are in a normal range (between 18.5 and 24.9 BMI) should add between 25 and 35 pounds. For women who are overweight (between 25 and 29.9 BMI), the right range is between 15 and 20 pounds. For women who are obese, with a BMI of 30 or above, weight gain while pregnant should be restricted to no more than twenty pounds.
These guidelines are calculated for women who are carrying a single fetus. For women who are carrying twins or multiples, guidelines will differ and should be discussed with an obstetrician. For any mother-to-be, stepping on the scale is just part of ensuring a baby’s health.
Women who gain insufficient weight may be at a higher risk for giving birth early or for giving birth to a baby with low birth weight. Women who add too many pounds while pregnant may be at risk for high blood pressure and for gestational diabetes. Also, if women fail to lose excess pounds after the pregnancy, they may increase their risk for lifelong health problems including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Good nutrition during pregnancy is important not only to control pregnancy weight gain but also to provide essential building blocks for baby. A diet rich in whole grains along with fruits and vegetables is the foundation of a healthy pregnancy diet. Healthy proteins including poultry, fish, eggs and beans will provide protein, B-vitamins and iron that are essential for baby’s growth. Dairy products like yogurt or even fortified fruit juices will take care of additional calcium needs. Experts also recommend drinking plenty of water and taking a prenatal vitamin.
Appropriate exercise is also important during pregnancy. Before beginning any exercise program, pregnant women should get approval from their doctor. Moderate exercise, like walking, swimming and cycling are good for both controlling weight and preparing for labor. Women may also perform strength training exercises as long as they avoid lifts that are too strenuous.
Drinking plenty of water and getting moderate exercise will also help to shed excess pounds. In addition, doctors estimate that nursing exclusively will help new mothers to burn an additional 300 calories per day. For post-pregnancy weight loss tips, women should talk to their doctor or obstetrician. In many cases, doctors recommend loading up on so-called super foods like fish, poultry and dairy.
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