3. Gaining Too Much Weight
It can be easy for some women to
pack on the pounds during pregnancy. Even though you do need to gain
some additional weight, gaining too much weight can have a negative
impact. If you gain excess weight during pregnancy (usually more than 40
pounds), you increase your risk for gestational diabetes and high blood
pressure. Both of these conditions can put you and your baby at risk
Too much weight can also make
pregnancy much more uncomfortable, causing backache, leg pain, varicose
veins, and fatigue. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can also
lead to a heavier baby, which can cause complications during labor and
delivery. Some experts find that extremely overweight women tend to have
longer labors and are at higher risk for cesarean sections.
Additionally, according to the Journal of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women
who tend to gain more weight than what is recommended during pregnancy
and who do not lose the excess weight within six months of giving birth
are at a much higher risk of being obese eight to ten years down the
What to Do
It is wise to keep regular doctor’s
appointments so your health-care provider can monitor your weight on a
regular basis. If you are gaining weight too rapidly, you may need to
adjust your eating plan. Check to make sure you are not overeating or
eating the wrong types of foods. Be clear on how many extra calories you
should actually be eating, what portion sizes should look like, and the
number of servings you should be consuming from each food group.
Remember that you are not eating for two full-size adults. You only need
to consume about 300 calories more than your maintenance calorie needs
Do not take it upon yourself to
diet or cut calories drastically to keep from gaining too much weight
during pregnancy or to lose any weight you have gained. This can have
detrimental health effects for both you and your baby. You need proper
nutrition throughout your nine months for a healthy pregnancy.
Most importantly, do not obsess about weight gain. Keep in mind that you will gain and that you need to
gain, but also remember this must happen in moderation. All women are
different, so your rate of gain may differ from others. Stick to a
healthy and well-balanced diet that includes all of the food groups in
the correct servings and portion sizes; watch your fat intake; cut back
on the junk foods; and get enough protein, fiber, and complex
carbohydrates. Drink plenty of water, and exercise regularly. Do all
this, and you are doing what you can to moderate your weight gain and
stay healthy. If you are concerned about your diet, contact a dietitian
who can help you properly analyze your food intake and put you on the
If you feel
you are gaining too much weight, keep in mind that the gain may be due
to water retention. Women who retain large amounts of water may
experience swelling, or edema, in their lower legs and/or hands. In this
case, you cannot really count on the scale to indicate whether you are
eating enough or too much. Make sure you are drinking the recommended
amount of fluids, which can help flush out stored fluid. Some degree of
edema is normal, but if you feel you are experiencing an extreme case,
speak with your doctor.
4. Gaining Too Little Weight
As gaining too much weight can be a
problem, gaining too little can also cause problems. Not gaining enough
weight during pregnancy can increase your risk for delivering a low
birth-weight baby as well as preterm labor. Not gaining enough weight
can come from improper nourishment. Not eating enough and not getting
proper nourishment can deprive your baby of essential nutrients he needs
for proper growth and development.
Some women may also experience
little to no weight gain in the first trimester as a result of morning
sickness. For those experiencing severe morning sickness, weight gain in
the first trimester can be tough. Some women may even lose a little
weight in the beginning of their pregnancy as their dietary habits
change to healthier ones. Don’t worry too much about not gaining weight
in your first trimester. As long as you eat a healthy, well-balanced
diet and consume the number of calories your body needs, your baby will
be perfectly safe. What you don’t gain in the first three months, you
can easily make up for later on. It is important that you do begin to
gain weight at a steady pace through your second and third trimesters.
The ultimate goal is to gain the recommended amount of weight by the end
of the pregnancy.
What to Do
If you are not gaining enough
weight, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor to make
sure there are no underlying problems. If morning sickness is a
continuing problem, speak with your doctor and a dietitian to learn
helpful ways to get the calories you need. You need to assess your
dietary intake. Make sure you are eating the correct number of servings
from each food group, as recommended for pregnant women . Don’t skip meals or leave out food groups. Gaining weight
doesn’t mean you can eat anything you want. Eating junk food or fast
food to gain weight is not healthy. You need to still make sure that all
of your calories count. Some women who are underweight during pregnancy
have a pattern of eating low-calorie foods and not enough protein. The
following guidelines can help you to eat more healthy calories:
• Don’t skip breakfast. Eat a
healthy breakfast every day, and spread peanut butter on toast or add
cheese to eggs to give you an extra boost of protein.
• Snack between meals on healthy
foods to add calories to your day. Try snacks such as yogurt with fresh
fruit, dried fruit, milkshakes, or cottage cheese.
• Add foods to your daily intake
that are high in the “good” fats, such as nuts, seeds, fatty fish (in
moderation), olive oil, peanut butter, and avocados. These foods can add
lots of calories in just a small serving.
• Avoid junk food or fast foods
that can add “bad” or unhealthy fats to your daily diet as well as too
much sugar. Even though these foods add calories, most do not contribute
much good nutrition.
• You may not need to eat more foods; instead, try to increase the portion sizes of the foods you already eat.
• Continue to be physically active. Exercise can help to stimulate appetite.
5. Dieting—A Dangerous Game
Pregnancy is not the time to worry
about losing weight, no matter what your pre-pregnancy weight was. Nor
is it the time to worry about spoiling your girlish figure. Once you
become pregnant, your focus should be on gaining the recommended amount
of weight and on living a healthier lifestyle for a healthy pregnancy.
It is the time to eat healthy and stay fit, not skimp on calories. Your
baby is constantly growing and needs constant nourishment. You can think
about weight loss and reaching a healthier weight once your pregnancy
is over and you have finished breastfeeding your baby.
Never take any type of diet pill
or weight-loss supplement, even those claiming to be “safe and natural,”
while trying to conceive or once you are pregnant. These can be harmful
to the fetus.
Even when you are trying to
conceive, it is advisable to stay away from extreme fad diets since you
may not know you are pregnant immediately. Fad diets can be too low in
the calories and essential nutrients you need from the very start of
pregnancy. If you need to reach a healthier weight before pregnancy, do
it by sticking to a low-fat, high-fiber, well-balanced diet and
either before or during pregnancy can lead to nutritional deficiencies
that can affect the proper development of your baby. Dieting by
decreasing your caloric intake can lead to too-little weight gain during
pregnancy, which can lead to problems such as premature labor and
delivering a low birth-weight baby. Do not try to lose weight in order
to keep from gaining too much during your pregnancy. Bigger women are
unlikely to gain as much weight during pregnancy as smaller women might.
Keep your weight gain to the advised levels, and do not try to lose