Many women believe that once pregnant, they must start eating for two, and eat twice as much as before. This is a myth! You aren’t eating for two adults, but rather for yourself and a growing fetus. You should only be eating a little more to help the baby grow and develop inside you, and that little more should only be around 300 additional healthy calories per day. Eating twice as much is a myth, and ultimately can be unhealthy for you.
The ideal amount of weight gain during pregnancy depends on your starting point. During the forty weeks, you should gain approximately twenty-five to thirty-five pounds if you begin at a normal weight. If you’re overweight at the start of your pregnancy, you should only gain fifteen to twenty-five pounds.
The pattern of weight gain varies among women. Commonly, a woman will gain three to six pounds in the first trimester, and a half a pound to one pound every week in the second and third trimesters. If you don’t follow this pattern, though, that’s okay, too. There are women who gain nothing or even lose weight in the beginning, and others who will put on ten pounds in one month and gain nothing for the next few weeks.
The best way to know how much you should gain is to calculate your body mass index, or BMI. You can use an online BMI calculator or use the following formula:
BMI = weight (lbs.) x 703
The overall total weight gain and the growth of baby are far more important than the week-to-week numbers. Your metabolism will adjust to allow weight gains and plateaus as your baby needs, and as the baby’s needs change. Your doctor should monitor this, and let you know if you should increase your calorie intake or lower it. It’s important to remember that weight gain can fluctuate from woman to woman, and you don’t want to under or over eat. Your doctor can suggest what kinds of foods you should add to or cut from your diet as you progress throughout your pregnancy.
Keep in mind that your fetus is absorbing everything it needs, and will be efficient in doing so, even if you aren’t gaining weight. Ultimately, if you eat well and keep up a healthy diet, your body will gain exactly what it needs. Also know that the growing fetus receives nutrition from the mother’s blood in the basic forms of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, so the baby isn’t eating exactly what you eat. The baby’s nutrition comes from fully digested food from the mother, meaning it only takes in the necessary nutrients from the food that’s already gone through your digestive system. This means if you eat an ice cream cone, the baby doesn’t eat ice cream, but rather takes the protein, fat, and sugar after you’ve digested your ice cream cone.
This doesn’t mean you can eat anything you want, though. As the baby is still taking the nutrients it needs, you’ll still need nutrients to keep yourself healthy. We recommend making as many good, healthy food choices as possible. Listen to your body’s cravings, and don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat a lot of unhealthy processed foods and a lot of sugar.
If you keep your diet healthy and balanced, remember not to overeat, and continue monitoring your weight gain with your doctor, you and baby are one step closer to a happy, healthy little one joining you at the end of the road!