You probably worry about pregnancy weight gain. It's almost impossible not to – every pregnancy magazine warns ” don't eat for two!”
Take a look at the chart on this page. It seems to make sense that you should only gain as much as the chart shows. But is that a healthy goal for pregnancy?
This little chart adds up to 32lbs at the most. As soon as you get close to that number, doctors start to warn you about gaining too much. The nurses start to look disappointed and write little notes on your chart.
|7.5 – 8.5 lbs||Baby|
|2 lbs||Amniotic Fluid|
|1.5 – 2 lbs||Placenta|
|1.5 – 2 lbs||Breast Tissue|
|3 lbs||Blood Volume|
|2 – 2.5 lbs||Uterine Muscle|
|8 lbs||Maternal Stores|
Pregnancy weight gain is vitally important to you and to your baby. If you're eating a healthy diet and taking excellent care of yourself it can even be dangerous to try and limit pregnancy pounds.
Your body needs all the nutrition it can possibly get during pregnancy. If you try to limit calories to cut down on weight gain, you end up cutting down on what your child is getting. It's a myth that your baby can take what he or she needs from you. You and your baby both become nutritionally deprived when you try to limit pregnancy weight gain.
A low-fat diet is a bad choice for pregnancy. Your body makes everything for your baby, your baby's placenta, your baby's blood, your blood supply (which doubles during your pregnancy), and sustains your own cells and organs. All of this takes energy. A good diet with healthy fats gives your body vital energy and healthy pregnancy weight gain.
The late Dr. Brewer found that when there's not enough fat to burn for energy the body begins to break down and burn protein. This means that even if you are eating enough protein for your pregnancy every day, that protein is not being used to build your baby or your own cells – it's being burned for energy.
Limiting calories is not a good thing. It deprives your body of energy and it deprives your body and your baby of vital protein. But is there a time you should worry about pregnancy weight gain? How do you know that your pounds are good pounds?
If you're eating a solid, nutrient-dense diet each day your pregnancy pounds are good pounds. You can't go wrong by eating plenty of fresh whole foods. I wish that I could talk to you face to face about the importance of having a healthy pregnancy diet! It's that vital.
If all you're eating is processed food, boxed meals, tons of carbohydrates, and fast food your pregnancy weight gain is going to happen quickly. And your little one is not getting what he or she needs. These foods are OK to eat occasionally, but they don't have the nutrients that you or your baby need. They're full of additives and fillers that will give you empty calories (and probably still leave you hungry). These empty, carb-rich foods pack on pounds you and baby don't need.
Your best bet is to prepare meals that are satisfying to you. Enjoy whole dairy products (choose organic and non-homogenized if possible), including butter. Butter is full of vitamins and flavor. Eat eggs, which are full of good vitamins. Choose tasty meats (organic is worth the investment) or make hearty bean dishes. Round out your diet with plenty of vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant-rich vegetables. Fruits are great in moderation.
Choose foods that fill you up and do it in a healthy way. If you're eating good foods you won't find yourself craving foods that are bad for you. You'll know your pregnancy weight gain is from nutrient filled foods. It goes without saying that you should limit sweet foods like candies and cakes. Choose fresh fruit or thick smoothies to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Salt has been demonized during pregnancy (and most other times, too). Processed foods are full of processed salt. Eliminate the processed foods and you'll also get rid of a large source of salt.
But pregnant women do need salt precisely for the reason many doctors try and limit it – to help retain fluids. During pregnancy your blood volume will expand – doubling and more if you're expecting multiples)! You need salt to help your blood volume stay high.
Use unbleached sea salt or natural mined salt (such as Real Salt brand), which contains many trace minerals, and salt your food to taste. Salt will help you to retain the water that you need to support your expanded blood volume. This does blood volume does increase your pregnancy weight gain.
Many doctors still give out copies of low-salt, low-calorie diets when pregnant women begin to get close to that magical 32 pounds. Don't use these outdated diets, which endanger both babies and mothers. (If you have an existing condition that requires special diets, please work closely with a nutritionist during your pregnancy – and choose one who specializes in prenatal nutrition.)
As long as you're eating good, healthy food and getting some moderate exercise, you can be sure that your pregnancy pounds are a good thing for you and your baby!
Women gain at all different rates and end up with different total weight gain. What you gain will be normal for you. Enjoy your nutritious meals and snacks, and remember that you need to be eating to grow your baby, maintain your body, and continue all the additional work that your body does during pregnancy.
If you do feel like you're gaining too much, limit carbohydrates but eat plenty of protein and fat. The fat builds your baby's brain, helps you stay emotionally balanced, and gives your body and energy source. The protein builds your baby's body, his/her blood supply, the placenta, and nourishes you. Without extra carbohydrate energy, your weight gain should slow down while still nourishing you and baby.
Photo by Xiaojun Deng