Having a baby is an exciting time for most women. However, this period also comes with certain events like morning sickness and weight gain, which may present a discomforting thought to expecting mothers.
Although gaining weight during pregnancy and losing your shape may be scary, it is essential for your baby’s health. So we totally understand if you get anxious as the numbers on the scales keep increasing. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), if you gain less weight than recommended, you put your child at risk of being too small. Babies born too small are at increased risk of being sick and may experience developmental delays.
There is also trouble at the older extreme; if you gain more weight than recommended, you risk your child being too large, and this could result in complications during delivery and childhood obesity.
The secret is finding the sweet spot. Gaining a healthy weight that is essential for the health of your pregnancy and the long-term development of your baby. To get to this sweet spot, the CDC recommends that the amount of weight you gain should be based on your body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy. If you don’t know what your BMI is, you can talk to your healthcare provider, so he or she can take your measurement and also show you how to measure your BMI.
Now we have established the importance of a healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Here are 5 ways you can maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
Quality, not quantity
When pregnant, there is a common saying that you have to “eat for two.” Many pregnant women take this to mean eating twice as much as you have to eat. However, “eating for two” simply means improving the quality of your diet rather than the quantity. You would want every meal you have to contain the required nutrients from each food group. Foods rich in vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, iron and omega-3 fatty acids should be an essential part of your diet. If you are a vegetarian who doesn’t include eggs or dairy products, which are important sources of these nutrients in your diet, you may want to consult a registered dietitian nutritionist about developing suitable alternatives for you.
Keep your eye on the scale and diet.
A balanced diet should be the goal. Your diet should be rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. However, it is important to be aware of your calorie limits. All trimesters of pregnancy do not need the same calorie gain. For example, the first trimester of pregnancy does not need you to gain any more calories to sustain you and the developing fetus. However, most women would require about 340 extra calories daily by the second pregnancy. The calorie needed is also higher during the third and final trimester, around about 450 extra calories per day, as the baby is almost fully developed. However, as we stated earlier, more calories do not necessarily mean quantity or more carbs. The building block of your diet should be more fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, healthy fat and oils, and dairy. All this might feel overwhelming. However, talking to a registered dietitian nutritionist about creating a nutrition and meal plan to serve you at every stage of the pregnancy might help take off the stress of planning the meal yourself while you focus on eating right.
Stay properly hydrated
Staying hydrated is a lifestyle hack for everyone. But, as an expectant mother, this is more than a hack— it’s about your baby’s health. Your daily water intake during pregnancy should be between 80 and 100 ounces. Water helps your body absorb essential nutrients and transports vitamins, minerals, and hormones to blood cells. It is these nutrient-rich blood cells that eventually reach your baby. In addition, water aids the formation of amniotic fluid around the fetus and staying hydrated will help preserve an ideal level of amniotic fluid around the fetus while helping with the elimination of waste.
Although water is important, you also want to make sure it is clean and free from chemicals like lead, mercury and arsenic that could harm your baby.
Engage in moderate exercises.
In addition to eating right, you also want to engage in moderate exercises. The key is “moderate.” You do not want to go overboard. Generally, most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as it is done with caution and within healthy limits. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery.
Some of the safest exercises you can do include walking, indoor stationary cycling, yoga, stretching, pilates or even cardio dance lessons. However, It’s still important to discuss exercise with your obstetrician-gynecologist during your early prenatal visits to know what activities you can do safely or if you should exercise at all. In addition, certain health conditions can exempt you from exercise during pregnancy, so always double-check to be sure.
Control Your Cravings
Cravings during pregnancy, especially having a sweet tooth pregnancy, is totally normal—you don’t have to beat yourself up about it. In fact, according to research, 50-90% of U.S women crave specific foods during pregnancy, so you are not alone. However, it is important to keep your calories in check and not let your cravings ruin your weigh-ins during prenatal visits. Learning how to control your cravings without packing up extra pounds is an important hack for expectant mothers.
One way to control your cravings is to assess them. Are you hungry, or is this just wanting another late-night ice cream? If you are hungry, do not go all superwoman and try to discount it, it would only worsen the situation. Instead, you can have the right portion of a meal or a healthy snack to curb your cravings. If it is the ice cream you want badly, you can consider a healthy swap. You can try something sweet like berries, watermelon or pineapple.
Remember, on some days, you might find yourself reaching out for an extra slice of pizza or a bowl of ice cream. That is fine as long as you don’t go overboard. You can speak with a registered dietitian nutritionist to come up with healthy alternatives for your cravings.
https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-weight-gain.htm| Weight Gain During Pregnancy
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01076/full | Pickles and ice cream! Food cravings in pregnancy: hypotheses, preliminary evidence, and directions for future research