Pregnancy: the time when we are able to eat whatever we want, when we want, and can even go so far as to demand someone else get it for us – NOW!
People are often heard to say, “Eating for two…” but I often wonder, “two what?” What we carry during pregnancy isn’t a full-grown human with a 2,000 calorie need, but one that is less than seven pounds during at least 35 weeks of the pregnancy. That does not translate to an extra thousand calories to support the little sucker.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED HEALTHY WEIGHT GAIN?
Weight gain guidelines are now established based on your body weight before becoming pregnant; women who are overweight should gain less than someone who started as underweight.
In the first trimester, expected weight gain for everyone is 1-4 pounds. Not much, but it is okay if you don’t gain weight. In fact, it is common to lose weight during the first trimester, due to the wonders of morning sickness…which can occur throughout the day and last longer than the first trimester. It is okay, most women will recover their weight in the second and third trimester.
Using the guidelines for Body Mass Index (BMI) to find if you are underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese, before becoming pregnant, then determines how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy.
- Underweight (BMI <18.5) should gain 28-40 pounds.
- Normal/healthy weight (BMI 18.5 – 24.9) should gain 25-35 pounds.
- Overweight (BMI 25-29.9) should gain 15-25 pounds
- Obese (BMI >30) should gain 11-20 pounds.
For underweight and healthy weight women, expected weigh gain during the second and third trimester is about one pound per week (range of 0.8 – 1.3 pounds). Underweight women should aim for the higher end and healthy weight women aim for the lower end.
Overweight women should gain just over a half pound (0.6) per week and obese women should gain half a pound (0.5) per week.
WHAT ARE THE REAL CALORIE NEEDS FOR PREGNANCY?
Increase calorie needs for everyone is 300 calories more than your current recommended calories for your weight. So if you need 1700 calories right now (pre-pregnancy), then you need 2,000 calories a day to support you and the growth of the baby.
Those extra calories should come from healthy foods: more fruit, low-fat milk, yogurt, nuts, or other quality protein. Not necessarily an extra piece of pie, ice cream, or unhealthy foods.
The good news: when you are lactating-breastfeeding you get an extra 500 calories (or 200 more than what you were eating during pregnancy)!
For many people the calorie recommendations are a big surprise, but it is the right amount for a healthy baby and a healthy mother. It also helps with postpartum weight loss: you will have less to lose in the following months.
For more specific guidelines for you speak to you obstetrician or mid-wife. These guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy reflect the 2009 update by the Insitutes of Medicine.