Avoiding Excessive Weight Gain During Pregnancy
While it’s natural and healthy for women to gain weight during pregnancy, excess weight gain can actually be harmful for both mum and baby. Too much weight gain can cause diabetes, varicose veins and high blood pressure for expecting mums, and can also be distressing for baby. On the other hand, doctors generally don’t recommend dieting while pregnant either. The safest thing for expectant mums to do is simply avoid gaining too much weight in the first place, so here are some tips.
Know How Much Weight is Healthy
To ensure you’re not gaining too much weight, you need to know how much to gain in the first place. In order to grow a baby, women gain weight from the baby itself, the placenta, the amniotic fluid, increased breast tissue, increased blood volume, stored fat for delivery and breastfeeding, and an enlarged uterus. In total, all this weight adds up to between 25-35 pounds. This value will be larger if you were underweight before pregnancy, or smaller if you were overweight. It is different for each individual, so you should talk to your health care provider to determine the right amount of weight to gain, and how fast you should be gaining it.
Avoid “Eating for Two”
Myths surrounding nutrition and pregnancy can be very misleading. For instance, “eating for two” is a common saying for pregnant women, but that doesn’t mean you should be doubling your caloric intake. On average, you need about 2,000 calories per day to maintain your weight, and another 200-500 on top of that during the second and third trimester depending on your pre-pregnancy weight.
Adopt Healthy Eating Habits
Even if you don’t eat twice as much, you should be eating twice as healthy! Here are some general tips for adopting healthy eating habits:
- Planning your meals will help you avoid overeating because it gives you an idea of what you should be eating when you’re hungry, keeping you from scouring the pantry at every craving.
- Avoiding foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt is the best way to maintain a healthy weight. Instead, opt for foods that are high in fibre so that you feel full for longer, especially when you’re having wild cravings. Make sure you get plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and organic lean meat.
- Drinking more water during your pregnancy will not only keep you hydrated, but it will make you feel full and will minimise how much water your body retains. Water also helps your digestive system work efficiently, which ensures that less excess food is stored as fat.
- Eating more frequent, albeit smaller, meals throughout the day is much healthier than a few large meals because your body will receive a steadier steam of nutrition. Your blood sugar will also remain more stable throughout the day, which will help with sudden cravings and nausea.
Inactivity is a common culprit of excessive pregnancy weight gain. Unless you have been put on bed rest, it’s important that you get out for some gentle physical activity regularly. Gentle walks, swimming, water aerobics, yoga and stretching are fantastic low-impact activities you can do all throughout your pregnancy. As your body gets bigger, you can find some maternity active wear, comfortable shoes and a maternity swimsuit that will keep your body supported.