A pregnant woman needs to consume enough calories in order to make sure that the baby is getting enough nutrients to support its growth. The RDA of calories for women of childbearing age is 2200 calories. To meet the needs of pregnancy, an additional 300 calories is recommended in order to sustain the baby’s growth. While this is typically the recommended caloric requirement, it is best that you ask your health care provider as to how much you should gain during pregnancy.
A woman’s weight gain during pregnancy varies and it usually depends on your pre-pregnancy weight. A woman with an average pre-pregnancy weight should gain only 25-35 pounds throughout her pregnancy. Underweight women on the other hand need to gain 28-40 pounds while overweight women, should only gain 15-25 pounds during pregnancy. This should occur at approximately 1 pound per month during the first trimester and then 1 pound per week during the second and third trimester. A weight gain of more than 6.6 pounds or 3 kilograms a month during the second and third trimester is considered excessive. It is less than normal if the woman’s weight gain during the last two trimesters is only 2.2 pounds or 1 kilogram.
It is normal for women to be concerned as to where all this weight is going, but the added weight is actually due to the changes that the body is making, to support the needs of pregnancy. Here is a sample breakdown for an eight pound baby:
|– Baby (Sample)||8 pounds|
|– Placenta||2-3 pounds|
|– Breast Tissue||2-3 pounds|
|– Blood Supply||4 pounds|
|– Amniotic Fluid||2-3 pounds|
|– Larger Uterus||2-5 pounds|
|– Fat stores||5-9 pounds|
|TOTAL||25 – 35 pounds|
Weight gain during pregnancy is best achieved using a healthy approach. It would be easy to meet your daily caloric needs with junk food, but it won’t be able to properly address the baby’s nutritional needs. Some food items may be satisfying or easy to prepare but its nutritional content may not be sufficient for your baby.
If your doctor recommends that you gain more weight during pregnancy, you can add more calories to your meal if you use condiments such as butter or margarine, cream cheese, and gravy. Instead of snacking on junk food, you can opt for healthy alternatives like nuts, cheese, raisins, crackers, dried fruit, or yogurt. Adding non-fat powdered milk to foods such as scrambled eggs, hot cereals or mashed potatoes may also help because it is a rich source of protein. A tablespoon of peanut butter provides about 100 calories and 7 grams of protein and you can add it to toasts, crackers or even fruits like bananas and apples.
If you have gained more weight than necessary, never attempt to lose weight. Dieting to lose weight is never safe during pregnancy. In order to slow your weight gain, you can choose food items that contain less fat. It is good to prepare foods in low fat methods such as broiling, baking, grilling or boiling. Frying foods in either oil or butter will only add to the calories of the meal. But if you need to use oil, margarine, butter, gravy, salad dressings, sauces, cream cheese and mayonnaise, use the lower fat substitutes that are available. Sweets and high calorie snacks should also be limited. You can trade cookies, donuts, candies, cakes and syrup with sliced fruit, low-fat yogurt or pretzels. These dessert choices have lower caloric content and will help in keeping your weight gain minimal. Sweetened drinks also need to be avoided because it will only add more calories. Use salt sparingly because it is a water lover. If you have too much salt, it will only trigger your body to retain water.
If you notice any sudden changes in your weight during the course of your pregnancy, consult your doctor. It is best that you raise your concerns and possibly come up with a healthy diet plan. It is also advisable to do exercises that are safe for pregnant women. For as long as it is approved by your doctor, moderate exercise is good because it will help burn the extra calories. Weight gain is expected during pregnancy and although it may not make a lot of women happy, it remains to be part of the process of nurturing another life into this world.
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