Eating for two
What is needed is not so much an increase in food intake but enhancing nutrition quality. These are two very separate issues. During the first trimester, daily calorie intake should stay around the same as before pregnancy.
Later in pregnancy, most pregnant women only need to increase their calorie intake by around 10%. Current scientific evidence is clear that women who are overweight before conceiving or who gain excess weight during pregnancy can struggle to get back to a healthy weight range after their baby is born. Check your individual body mass index (BMI) for your total recommended weight gain during pregnancy.
What is body mass index?
Where does the extra weight come from?
- Extra circulating blood volume.
- Water retention and general fluid increase.
- Extra weight of the breasts.
- Extra weight of the expanding uterus.
- Amniotic fluid and placenta.
- The baby. At birth an average weight is around 6.5 to 7.5 pounds.
It is normal for there to be fluctuations and changes in a pregnant mother's weight gain. But any sudden increase or decrease can be cause for concern. Therefore, many maternity care providers monitor the weight gain of their clients as it can be an indicator of certain complications.
Some mothers are only weighed at the beginning and end of their pregnancy. A lot of pregnant women like to keep a check on their weight themselves and the best way to do this is with a weekly weigh-in, at around the same time of the day. The ideal way to gain pregnancy weight is slowly and steadily.
Sudden increases or decreases need to be checked by your maternity care provider. In a normal and uncomplicated pregnancy, there is only a small weight gain—if any—in the first trimester. Most women then gain around 1.5 to 2 pounds per week until the last 1 to 2 weeks of pregnancy, when weight gain tends to slow down.
How long will it take to lose pregnancy weight?
The same basic arithmetic for losing weight at any other time applies to after birth. The more energy which is taken into the body in the form of food, the more that energy needs to be used up. Too much food is stored as fat. To lose excess weight requires attention to portion control and some form of daily exercise. Be realistic about losing post pregnancy weight, especially if you are breastfeeding your baby. Limiting food can impact on breast milk supply.
What about dieting?
Underweight during pregnancy
- Having a baby who is small for dates and underweight at birth.
- Increased risk of premature delivery and the associated problems with having a preterm baby.
- Potential problems with lactation and low breast milk supply.
Risks of being overweight during pregnancy
- Higher risk of complications with labor and delivery.
- Giving birth to an overweight baby who may have problems regulating blood sugar levels.
- Hemorrhoids, stretch marks, pelvic floor problems and urinary incontinence.
- Feeling more uncomfortable and becoming intolerant in hot weather.
- Backaches, leg aches, swollen feet, swollen ankles, and problems with mobility.
- Raised blood pressure and higher incidence of preeclampsia. There is also an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes.
- Extra strain on the vital organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.
- Higher incidence of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.