Pregnancy is one of the unique phases in a woman’s life, and it must be enjoyed and cherished. However, it is also crucial to be thoughtful and stay healthy because the mother’s health determines the child’s health. A balanced diet ensures good health and proper growth of the baby. When the mother eats healthy, the child gets all the nutrients necessary for growth and development.
How many extra calories should pregnant women have?
One of the common things that most pregnant women get to hear is that they must consume extra food to help the child develop well. But here lies the biggest question. How much more calories or extra calories should a mother intake?
The figures are significant in this case. You may hear that a mom eats for two. But what remains unclear is that- what is the additional requirement of the bay? How much more does the baby need? How much food shall equal the number of extra calories and many more questions?
Well studies say that any pregnant woman should consume an additional 300 calories over and above what she consumed when she wasn’t pregnant.
Usually, this amount of extra calories is enough to help the baby gain the correct weight and keep the mother fit and fine. The 300 calories figure applies if you carry one child in the womb. If the mom is expecting twins, the mom has to consume slightly more calories. The daily calorie need of a woman carrying twins is somewhere between 3000 and 3500 calories.
But, it is not only about the extra calorie intake. As the saying goes, it is not how much you eat, but it is also about what you eat. So, the calories do make a difference, but what makes an even greater difference is whether you are consuming the suitable kind and amount of food or not.
How Much Should Pregnant Women Gain Weight?
Weight gain during pregnancy is a natural phenomenon. Any woman with average weight should gain an average of 25 to 35 pounds of weight during pregnancy. However, the ideal weight gain is a bit higher for an underweight woman. Doctors recommend that they gain at least 15 to 25 pounds during their pregnancy term.
This rise in weight will not be uniform during the entire span of pregnancy. During the first trimester, the gain in weight is something closer to 3 pounds on average (it should be in the range of 2-4 pounds). After completing the first trimester, the gain in weight is generally 1 pound per week.
It’s important to remember that all the figures mentioned above are applicable if you are expecting a single child. If you are expecting twins, the rise in body weight should be somewhere around 35 to 45 pounds. During the first trimester, the increase in weight for any woman expecting twins will be 4 pounds, and for the rest of the tenure, the rise in weight will be 1.5 pounds per week.
One of the many closely monitored parameters during pregnancy is the body weight and the proportionate rise in the woman’s body weight. The increase of body weight is considered crucial for determining the child’s health, well-being, and normal development pattern in the womb.
How to find your ideal weight gain during pregnancy?
Firstly, determine your BMI to evaluate whether you fall under the normal, overweight, or underweight category. The following table shall help you understand the ideal weight.
Formula to calculate BMI = 703xweight (lbs)/height (inches)^2
|BMI||Diagnosis of Weight|
|Less than 18.5||Underweight|
|18.5 to 24.9||Normal|
|25 to 29.9||Overweight|
|More than 30||Obese|
Once you know the category you fall in, it becomes easier to understand the ideal weight gain.
|Weight in BMI||Ideal increase in Pregnancy Weight|
|Average||25 to 35 lbs|
|Underweight||28 to 40 lbs|
|Overweight||15 to 25 lbs|
|Pregnancy with Twins||35 to 45 lbs|
Is the Extra Weight Gained During Pregnancy the Weight of the Baby?
The extra weight that a mother gains during pregnancy is not solely the fetus’s weight. The baby’s weight is around 8 pounds, whereas the rest of the increased mass is distributed among other maternal body parts. The placenta weighs approximately 3 pounds. Also, the amniotic fluid that protects the baby weighs somewhere close to 2-3 pounds.
The breast tissues also increase in weight. There is an approximate increase of around 3 pounds because of the rapid growth and proliferation of the mammary glands. The uterus increases by about 5 pounds in size. The enhanced blood supply and deposited extra adipose tissue, especially around the abdomen, also contribute to the increased weight.
Ways to Gain Weight during Pregnancy
If you are a would-be mom, eating healthy will help you gain the proper amount of weight and also ensure the good health status of the mother and child. You don’t look forward to worrying about calories and getting fat during the pregnancy tenure. Most women face cravings during pregnancy, and it is an immense psychological relief to have the food you are craving. However, if you want to gain weight during pregnancy, here are some tips for you:
Have smaller meals in between the main meals
It is not just about the 3 big meals, i.e., breakfast, lunch, and dinner during pregnancy. Instead, you have to consume healthy food between the 3 major meals. Try to include fruits, nuts, and light food as your mid-day or evening snacks. Try to have at least 6 small meals in a day. It also ensures that you don’t get acidity which may be overly painful during the pregnancy days. The goal is never to stay hungry.
Practice mindful eating
When you feel like munching or binge eating, try to indulge in healthy snacks. Just because you are hungry and want to have more calories does not mean you will have unhealthy food. Cheese and dry fruits are good to go as snacks. You can keep a bottle full of cashews, almonds, and dates by your side so that you can easily reach out to these whenever hungry. Prenatal vitamins are important to get healthy weight and body mass.
Indulge in high-calorie food
Have such food which will give you an instant source of energy and calories. Two of the most amazing foods for satiating hunger and healthy weight gain are bananas and peanut butter. They are a good source of calories and puritans. Also, both of these are instant energy providers. So, if you feel low and unenergetic, have a banana or a tablespoon full of peanut butter. Both of the items are tasty and will also make your mood happy.
Milk powder to soothe the cravings
Powdered milk is one of the delicacies that most moms love to add to their food. Powdered milk is tasty as well as a great source of calories. You can have powdered milk as it is, have it with some hot water or add it to your bowl of breakfast cereals. One word of caution here is to always go for the powdered milk that has the label of non-fat over it.
Dairy for a dose of taste and health
Butter, cream, margarine, starch, cheese, and cheese cream are great stuff to gain weight. If you are craving something tasty, do not forget to include these add-ons in your food. Add it to the bread, your plate of cereals, or have it just like that.
Ice-cream with a thought
Last but not least, there is one item that deserves a special mention when we are talking about the cravings of pregnant women. Ice-Cream is one food item that almost every pregnant woman loves and craves. Yes, you can indulge in your favorite ice cream. However, better to avoid it if you are lactose intolerant. Also, avoid the additional favors in the ice cream because they are often made of chemical add-ons.
If you are gaining weight more than what is normal or what the doctor has recommended for you, it is high time you change your diet and lifestyle.
Problems One Might Incur If There is Low Weight
Women who are underweight during pregnancy face numerous health issues. Here are the problems a woman may incur in case of low weight during pregnancy:
- Premature delivery can happen, causing the baby to be born before time. It leads to multiple problems due to underdevelopment.
- Low birth weight of the baby during birth.
- Miscarriage in extreme conditions
It is highly recommended to all would-be mothers not to try to lose weight. You must closely monitor your BMI across the tenure of pregnancy. If you have a BMI lower than 18.5, consult your doctor.
Complications Due to Excessive Weight Gain
Gaining excessive weight during pregnancy can also be detrimental to the health of the mother and the fetus. Excess weight gain during pregnancy and an abnormal rise in the BMI of the mother can affect the child adversely. It will also lead to multiple physiological disorders like diabetes and high blood pressure. The baby may also get affected in the short and long run.
Excess weight gain during pregnancy affects the health of the baby. It can also lead to preeclampsia. Sleep apnea is also commonly observed in pregnant women who have gained excessive weight during pregnancy. If you gain more than 40 pounds, it is a matter of concern, and you must immediately consult a doctor in such a condition. The causes of weight gain during pregnancy may be many. The woman can also give birth to obese kids who will have impaired health in the future.
Pregnancy is a bumpy ride, yet it is a beautiful journey to be cherished. However, the most critical part is to keep a close check on the baby’s health. Maintaining a healthy weight positively impacts the fetus’s health and ensures that a completely healthy individual arrives in this world.
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