by Jennifer Shakeel
Fifteen years ago I was told by many, "remember you are eating for two now," every time I sat down to a meal. The doctors weren't really all that concerned with the amount of weight I should gain… though towards the end they did tell me that I should be careful I would have trouble losing the weight. I was young, 21, I didn't care I would get back in shape, no problem.
Jump ahead to last year, with my last pregnancy and my fear of gaining weight took me over, the doctor's said to me, "You aren't really eating for two. Your body is going to provide the baby with the nutrients first… and they you. So make healthy food choices and you will be fine." They key was everything in moderation.
You have to make healthy food choices so that the nutrients that are going into your body are good for you and baby. You do need additional nutrients to help baby grow properly and for you to remain healthy while you are pregnant, but you are not eating for two people. A simple increase of only 300 calories a day is ideal to take care of you and baby.
The last thing in the world you want to do when pregnant is restrict your diet. You need to take in the appropriate amounts of protein, minerals and vitamins. Taking a prenatal vitamin is very important. I am sure that you are now wondering just how much weight you should gain. The answer depends on what weight you are starting out at. If you are currently overweight, the doctors are going to monitor your weight gain closely and so should you. Excess weight can make way for a difficult delivery and possible problems for baby.
Consider these guidelines through your pregnancy. Your weight gain should be gradual, with the "bulk" of the weight gained in the last trimester. During the first 3 months of pregnancy you should gain between 2 to 4 pounds, and then each month for the rest of the pregnancy you should gain between 3 to 4 pounds. The maximum weight gain they say is around 25 to 30 pounds but that is really going to depend on the weight you started out at.
Many of the OB doctors that I spoke with really say that 20 pounds is the ideal amount of weight gain. "This will decrease the risk of delivering a low-birth-weight baby. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women who have a low Body Mass Index (BMI) — the ration of weight to height — should gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy and women who have a higher BMI should gain 15 to 25 pounds."
So what is the weight that you gain? Anywhere from 6 to 8 pounds of that weight is the baby you are carrying. The rest is the extra fluid in the body, the larger breasts and uterus and the placenta.
While now is not the time to diet, you do want to make sure that you are taking in the best foods possible and that you are doing it in moderation so that you can give baby the best start possible. The weight will come off. Remember it takes 9 months to put it on, so don't expect it to be gone the morning after you give birth.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience. As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!
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