Women diet their entire lives, obsessing over calories, and doing crazy things to maintain those curvy figures. However, when we enter a season of pregnancy, most of us welcome a reprieve from dieting and enjoy eating some cake with our cake. *wink* Many women never struggle with excessive weight gain during pregnancy and bounce back post-partum very quickly. Others, however, seem to gain weight just by looking at the calorie count on the back of a cereal box!
We justify eating 7 donuts because, after all, you are eating for two now. This “eating for two” slogan is one of the oldest myths about pregnancy, but is it true your baby needs as much food as a full-grown adult? Mothers should never take food for granted. It’s the fuel your body needs to grow a human being. (And you’re going to need it to push that baby out soon!) But it can also be dangerous to gain excessive weight.
Today we are going to talk about common questions and cover what you need to know when it comes to weight gain and weight loss during pregnancy.
How Much Weight Is Okay To Gain?
Did you know that gaining weight is actually healthy and essential for your pregnancy? The “normal” recommended amount of weight to gain is 25-35 pounds.
Your body needs fuel to push a 7-10 pound human out of your body. Not to mention, a baby pulls nourishment from your body and recycles it into their body to form organs and body parts. This is why it's so important to replenish your minerals!
You also need some extra weight for lactation. Yes, body fat turns into milk for your baby! If you are too underweight, it can be hard for your body to produce enough milk.
Think of your body fat as life-giving sustainability!
The exact amount you should gain (or maintain) depends on what numbers are right for your personal BMI, body type, and body size. Ask your doctor for a personalized number. If you are struggling to gain 25 pounds or if you are starting to gain over 35 pounds, don’t start a diet. Instead, talk to your doctor about seeing a nutritionist to help you stay on track and assist you with your weight gain/loss safely.
Losing weight during pregnancy is not considered safe. (Most women lose a few pounds the first trimester because of morning sickness and nausea. This is considered normal, but in the second trimester, your body weight should start to change.)
Will Baby Weight Come Off Easily?
The good news is, “baby weight” isn’t like pre-pregnancy weight gain. Breastfeeding mothers find they go back to normal fairly quickly because their body is recycling that fat into food for baby. If you are mentally struggling over the rising numbers on the scale, just remember you won’t be pregnant forever and your body will bounce back! Stay positive!
If you are not breastfeeding, exercise and a healthy diet are the most effective way for baby weight to come off. And it does come off fairly easy for most women who put in the effort. Stroller walks, light aerobics, sunshine, a good attitude, and a well-balanced diet are what the doctor ordered!
Can I Diet During Pregnancy?
That’s a resounding, ‘No.’
You are eating for two now. This does not mean you need to eat 4000 calories a day, but it does mean your body needs between 600-800 extra calories so your baby can develop safely and your body prepares for labor and postpartum. In your second trimester, a woman needs about 2,200 calories and in the third trimester, she needs about 2,400.
If you struggle to eat enough or if you struggle from eating too much, your doctor might put you on a diet. The only diet you can follow is one approved and prescribed by your doctor. This should never be done alone or unsupervised. Your doctor will also recommend certain diets for serious health complications like gestational diabetes.
What Kind Of Calories Do I need To Consume?
The goal during pregnancy is to gradually gain weight over 6-9 months. Obviously, boxes of donuts and processed snacks are not the best way to gain weight. Stay away from pizzas, cookies, donuts, sodas, and other processed calories. Replace those foods with fruit, veggies, whole grains, yogurt, grilled meat (not fried). Save the sugar for when you have an intense craving. It’s okay to splurge on sugar once in a while! (After all, you deserve a reward for growing a human!)
More suggestions to get you started on a healthy diet are:
Veggie and ranch tray
When it comes to healthy fats, babies need omega 3 fatty acids to grow their little hearts, brains, eyes, and immune systems. Try eating more plant-based monounsaturated fats (like olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, avocados, nuts, and nut butter.) Another good source for fat is polyunsaturated fats (salmon (not raw), trout, flaxseed, walnuts, sunflower oil.)
If healthy eating is new for you, look on Pinterest for healthy food ideas for beginners!
Can I Exercise During Pregnancy?
Yes, but there are rules.
Rule number one is to always ask your doctor. If you were already active and your body is used to intense activity, your doctor will let you resume to normal. However, if you were not a big fitness geek before pregnancy, your doctor might only clear you to walk, do prenatal yoga, and light exercise like water aerobics or swimming.
It is recommended to get in about 30 minutes of exercising a day, and every little bit of movement adds up quickly! Find ways to get moving more. Park at the end of the building and walk. Don’t have food delivered to your office. Instead, go get it. Use the stairs, walk your dog (or a friend’s dog!), go for a swim.
But as you get a bigger belly and become physically unbalanced, it’s important not to do exercises that could cause you to fall.
What Are The Risks of Too Much Weight Gain?
Excessive weight gain puts you at higher risks for issues like:
-High Blood Pressure
-Increased Body Discomfort (hip pain, leg pain, exhaustion, etc...)
-A Large Baby
-Birth Defects/Child Obesity
If you are overweight, don’t panic. Ask your doctor how you can get on track and be the healthiest version of you! You can do this!
Eating healthy and working out can feel overwhelming and challenging at first. It's hard for pregnant women to see the numbers going up when we have spent our lives making them go down. Just remember that our bodies are powerful, life-giving, communicating, organisms. Listen to your body. Have fun with it. Enjoy the powerful things it can do. Your body will take care of you if you take care of it. Trust the process of pregnancy. God built your body to have babies, trust that your biology has the blueprint to do it effectively. You are incredibly beautiful and far more valuable than a number on a scale!