The adage about “eating for two” can sound tempting when you are pregnant and feel famished. Remember, however, that eating too much in pregnancy can cause you to gain too quickly, according to the Mayo Clinic. While doctors recommend a weight gain of 11 to 40 lbs., depending on your size before you got pregnant, several health problems are associated with gaining more than the recommended amount.
Doctors typically tell patients to gain weight during their pregnancies. Gaining the proper amount of weight helps the baby develop properly. The weight gain is supposed to start out slow, move more quickly and then level off again toward the end of gestation. According to the Mayo Clinic, each person is different, but certain guidelines for weight gain are tied directly to how much they weighed at the beginning of the pregnancy. Suggested weight gain guidelines for underweight women is 28 to 40 lbs. If you are a normal weight, the guideline calls for 25 to 30 lbs. If you are overweight, doctors suggest you hold your weight gain to 15 to 25 lbs. If you are obese, you should not gain more than 11 to 20 lbs.
In addition to overall weight gain, there are guidelines about how much weight you should gain during each trimester of your pregnancy as well. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), you should gain no more than 3 to 5 lbs. in the first trimester. During the second and third trimester, the APA suggests gaining 1 to 2 lbs. every week. If you are are overweight when you become pregnant, the APA recommends you hold the weight gain to 1 to 2 lbs. in the first trimester, gain approximately 1 to 2 lbs. during the second trimester, and gain 1 lb. each week for the remainder of the pregnancy.
Gaining excess weight during pregnancy can cause several different health risks. The APA reports that the leading health issues for excess weight gain include high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and backaches. In addition, there is an increased risk for having a Cesarean delivery. Gestational diabetes and high blood pressure can change a normal healthy pregnancy into a high risk pregnancy which requires specialist care. A Cesarean delivery can create a risk of infection as well as increase the recovery time following the surgery.
If so much weight is gained that it places the mother in the obese category or if she is obese when she becomes pregnant, not only will she incur a higher risk for gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, but it can pose problems with her medical care.
When a pregnant woman is obese, it is more difficult to detect and monitor the baby’s heartbeat, according to the APA. It can also cause a difficult vaginal delivery. If the baby is above average in size as well, this increases the potential for delivery problems even more.
Pregnant women, who eat healthy foods, have a better chance of gaining a healthy amount of weight, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Foods that are based in natural ingredients are better than processed foods. Whole grains should be incorporated several times a day with fresh fruits and plenty of vegetables. Include low-fat dairy products and lean protein sources, such as skinless chicken, to provide optimum nutrition during pregnancy. Checking with the physician regarding weight gain helps women maintain a healthy gestational period.
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