While your diet may change drastically during pregnancy — from food aversions in the first trimester to food cravings in the second and third trimesters — the truth remains that what you eat during pregnancy nourishes both you and your baby.
But how much should you eat, and how much weight should you gain? Because each expectant mother has unique needs, our team of board-certified specialists at OBGYN Westside PLLC, on the Upper West Side of New York City, offers customized guidance when you’re eating for two.
Below, we discuss the general nutritional requirements of mamas-to-be.
How much weight should you gain during pregnancy?
Most expectant women should aim to gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. You might only see the scale increase a few pounds throughout your entire first trimester, but once you hit the second trimester, you can expect to gain about a pound a week.
Gaining 25-35 pounds isn’t a hard and fast rule for everyone. If you’re overweight prior to your pregnancy, you might only aim to gain 15-25 pounds during pregnancy. On the other hand, if you’re underweight or pregnant with multiples, you may need to gain more. For example, if you’re expecting twins, it’s reasonable to gain anywhere from 37-54 pounds.
Break it down: where’s the weight going?
If you’ve spent years trying to maintain a healthy weight, it can feel odd to shift gears and start focusing on gaining weight. Weight gained during pregnancy isn’t just fat. Only about 5-9 pounds of weight gained during pregnancy is allocated for additional fat stores. According to the National Library of Medicine, the typical breakdown of weight gained is as follows:
- Full-term baby: about 7-8 pounds
- Placenta, amniotic fluid, and breast tissue: up to 3 pounds each
- Increased blood supply: about 4 pounds
- Uterus growth: up to 5 pounds
These are averages and may vary from woman to woman.
Tips for gaining the right amount of weight
Gaining too much weight increases your risk of gestational diabetes, but not gaining enough weight can be just as problematic. These tips can help you gain the right amount of weight:
Know your calorie goals
Eating for two doesn’t mean you have to double your normal calories, nor is pregnancy the time to limit your calories, even if you started pregnancy overweight. It’s important to eat a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet.
Most women can reach their weight gain goals during pregnancy by consuming 1800 calories in the first trimester, 2200 calories in the second trimester, and 2400 calories in the third trimester — although these numbers may vary in special circumstances.
Monitor morning sickness
If you’re struggling to gain weight, particularly if you’re dealing with morning sickness, try eating smaller meals and bland foods, such as rice, crackers, or toast. That being said, if you can’t keep anything down, including water, talk to us. You might be dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of nausea that can make it hard to gain weight.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, most pregnant women should exercise 150 minutes per week. Your OBGYN Westside provider reviews your specific exercise goals and, if needed, instances in which you should avoid exercise.
In general, walking, swimming, gentle stretches, and modified yoga are good prenatal exercises. Avoid any contact sports, hot yoga, scuba diving, or high-risk activities such as horseback riding, gymnastics, and on-road cycling.
Body image during pregnancy
Your body changes a lot during pregnancy, and you may see new curves — and even a few stretch marks along the way — but keep in mind that weight gain is normal and healthy. Your growing body is beautiful and a testament to the power of motherhood.
Questions about your unique dietary needs during pregnancy? We’re just a call or click away. You can call our office or book an appointment online today.