Pregnancy Weight Gain

Weight gain during pregnancy is to be expected. In fact, it cannot be avoided. A healthy weight gain for most pregnancies is about 23-35 lbs if you are going to deliver a single baby.

However, unnecessary weight gain above and beyond the typical healthy weight gain can be minimized. When you understand where the pregnancy weight gain comes from, how much caloric increase you really need for a healthy baby- and what types of foods you should eat for optimal pregnancy and delivery, you can make choices that will help your baby grow strong without adding too much weight.

Typical Pregnancy Weight Gain

Although it varies from woman to woman, this is how those pounds may add up:

  • 7.5 pounds:  average baby’s weight
  • 7 pounds:     extra stored protein, fat, and other nutrients
  • 4 pounds:     extra blood
  • 4 pounds:     other extra body fluids
  • 2 pounds:     breast enlargement
  • 2 pounds:     enlargement of your uterus
  • 2 pounds:     amniotic fluid surrounding your baby
  • 1.5 pounds:  the placenta

You (and your baby) ARE What You EAT

Contrary to what many women think (say and do) during pregnancy, this is NOT the time to go off and just eat everything you’ve ever wanted!  When you understand that you are the filter for everything that goes into your baby., making healthier choices becomes easier.  Being a filter means, everything that you consume, your baby does too. The less garbage in, the less garbage your body will try to eliminate (and often, the less weight you’ll have to lose after the baby is born.)

One goal most soon to be parents say is this:  “they just want the baby to be healthy”.  That is a great goal!  You can easily support that goal by knowing what type of food you should eat- what you should avoid – and why.

Garbage in… Garbage Out

Our body is one of the most well made, incredibly balanced computers/machines/engines/or pieces of art that you’ve ever seen.  No matter what your preference is for understanding this next section- the same concept I’m going to share here applies:

1. If you feed and nourish your body before, during and after pregnancy with high quality foods that are balanced in proteins, carbohydrates, low in sugars, processed ingredients, preservatives and additives- you will have a great experience and set the foundation to grow a strong, healthy baby.

2. If you consume overly processed, high calorie, low nutritionally based foods with fillers, additives, preservatives and chemicals that only a scientist can say- your body will be working first to remove those toxins from your body… and then, if there is any nutritional substance to the food- you and your baby will be fed.

How much extra calories a day does it take to grow a baby?

In order to gain healthy weight during pregnancy, it is recommended to increase your daily energy intake at a minimal pace.  Healthy pregnancy weight gain can be achieved in each trimester as shown:

First trimester:   increase caloric intake by 100 kcal

Second trimester:   increase caloric intake by 300 kcal

Third trimester:   increase caloric intake by 300 kcal

You can see that by these proven numbers, the 1000 kcal dessert from Dairy Queen or the 2000 kcal Bloomin’ Onion alone can tip you over the needed caloric intake level.   It’s ok to enjoy some occasional ‘splurges’- but keep in mind, any extra calories you consume during pregnancy go on you- in form of fat.  This is the fat that your body has to later work harder to carry around and then (hopefully) remove if you are motivated to do so.

Each extra unnecessary pound of fat you carry before, during and after your pregnancy does take a toll on your body and your health.

As you can see, pregnant women only need to add about 100 calories in the first trimester, and 300 calories in the second and third trimesters. Strategically adding an extra nutritious snack should be able to take care of your needs.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ACOG recommends increasing the intake of the 4 basic food groups to the following:

  • 4 or more servings of fruits and vegetables
  • 6 – 11 servings of whole-grain and other grain products
  • 4 or more servings of milk products
  • 3 or more servings of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and lentils