Pregnancy is the time to sit back, relax and enjoy all the attention pouring in from your loved ones. While it is not the right time to lose weight, there is no rule which states that you should eat more than necessary. The quantity of food a pregnant woman needs depends on several aspects such as her body mass index before pregnancy, her rate of weight gain, appetite and age. One rule which is applicable for pregnant women across the world includes eating nutrient-rich foods during every meal. Supplements should be included only after discussing with a physician.
Research shows that a healthy weight gain during pregnancy reduces the probability of risk problems during both, the pregnancy period and delivery. But, most women start off pregnancy with an overweight or obese BMI and gain further weight during this period. An obese pregnant woman delivers a baby who can become an obese adult later in life. Other side effects of obesity during pregnancy includes:
- Gestational diabetes and hypertension
- Birth defects
- High risk of Cesarean delivery
- Fetal death
Healthy Weight Gain Ranges
The amount of weight gained during pregnancy depends on the woman’s pre-pregnancy BMI, ranges of which are available at www.firsteatright.com.
Healthy weight increments proposed for a full-term pregnancy include:
|Category||Weight Increment (kilograms)||Weight Increment in the Case of Twins (kilograms)|
|Underweight (BMI below 18.5)||12-18||No guidelines mentioned|
|Normal (BMI: 18.5-24.9)||11-15||17-24|
|Overweight (BMI: 25-29.9)||7-11||14-22|
|Obese (BMI: 30.0 and above)||5-9||11-19|
Calorie Increments for Each Trimester
Normally, pregnant women need between 2,200 and 2,900 calories/day. It is recommended to increase calorie intake gradually, as the fetus grows. The calorie needs differ during each trimester, with the last trimester having the greatest calorie needs. While there is no need for extra calorie consumption during the first trimester, during the second trimester the pregnant woman needs to consume 340 calories more a day than what she regularly consumes and 450 calories more a day than when not pregnant, during the third trimester. These additional calories should be added to the body from nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy. Restrict unnecessary calorie increments from foods such as soda, sweets and fried foods.
Pregnant women should engage in physical activity for 30 minutes daily on at least five days a week as it benefits the mother-to-be and the baby inside the womb. It is recommended to talk to your physician before starting or continuing any exercise during pregnancy.