Pregnancy and weight gain go hand in hand. But to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby, you must not gain excessive weight.
Being overweight before pregnancy or gaining excessive weight during pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and other complications related to pregnancy, including preeclampsia and the need for a cesarean section, according to a 2015 study published in Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkunde.
The amount of weight you should gain during pregnancy is based on several factors, including pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index (BMI). Your health status and your baby’s health also play a key role.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends following the weight gain guidelines for pregnant women.
A 2008 study published in Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology reports that not only does maternal obesity affect the woman, it also impacts the health of the child.
A mother being overweight or obese is also associated with an increased risk of infant mortality, due to increased mortality risk in full-term births and an increased prevalence of preterm births, according to a 2014 study published in BMJ.
A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the heavier mothers were when they entered pregnancy, the higher the risk of behavior problems for their sons. However, it did not show the same effects in girls.
Looking at these studies, it becomes obvious that gaining too much weight during pregnancy should be avoided.
Here are some of the ways to gain weight in a healthy way during pregnancy.
1. Lose Weight before Planning Your Pregnancy
Take steps to ensure you’re at a healthy weight before you become pregnant. This will make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight throughout the pregnancy.
Obese women who are pregnant are at a higher risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia, long labor, labor interventions, miscarriage and ultrasound test difficulties.
Obesity can also cause macrosomia, which means having too large of a baby. This increases the chance of a C-section.
If you are ready to have a child, consider making a preconception appointment. Your doctor can help you figure out your current BMI and suggest how much weight you may need to lose before getting pregnant. Also, your doctor may recommend the best ways to lose weight.
2. Consult a Doctor and Nutritionist
As soon as you have conceived, it is time to see a doctor as well as a nutritionist. Your doctor knows your medical history and can recommend how much weight you need to lose or gain.
Your doctor can also refer you to a registered nutritionist, who can plan out a sensible diet plan that will help you stay healthy during your pregnancy.
A nutritionist will suggest the foods that you should eat as well as exercises or workouts that are safe for you and your baby.
Before visiting a nutritionist, write down all the details regarding what you eat and drink and what type of exercise you do. This will be of immense help for any nutritionist.
3. Do Light Exercises
During pregnancy, exercise is important. Moderate exercise can help burn excess calories and keep your weight in check.
Walking or swimming are usually safe forms of exercise for pregnant women. Try to do 30 minutes of light exercise like walking or swimming three days a week.
Regular exercise and keeping your body fit will also ensure that you have fewer aches and pains as you get to the end of the pregnancy.
A 2013 study published in the Australian Journal of Primary Health reports that encouraging pregnant women to continue their pre-pregnancy walking level may be a relatively simple strategy to increase participation in physical activity.
To stay motivated to exercise, make a walking date with another pregnant friend or your partner.
4. Don’t Eat for Two
During pregnancy, your focus should be on eating healthy rather that eating for two.
Your body does not need that many extra calories a day to nourish your growing baby. You simply need 340 extra calories per day when you are in the second trimester and 450 extra calories per day when you are in your third trimester.
A pregnant woman can fulfill the extra calorie requirement by drinking two glasses of milk (around 100 calories each) and eating one extra serving of whole grains (around 100 calories).
You must also choose foods that pack a big nutritional punch and help you feel satisfied, such as nuts, raisins, cheese and crackers, dried fruit and yogurt.
Also, focus on small, frequent meals that are high in lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. Eating a healthy snack every three hours should help you avoid overdoing it at mealtimes.