It is very expected that women will gain weight during pregnancy. In fact, for the majority of people, it is necessary for the well-being of your future baby! A healthy weight gain is ideal after getting pregnant in order to support fetal development, as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) states. Your growing baby, the placenta, amniotic fluid, and increased blood volume all contribute to pregnancy weight gain amongst other things. It’s normal to see the number on the scale go up as your due date gets closer, but this may not always be a completely linear path!
Since healthy weight gain during pregnancy is related to all of these key fetal development functions, it’s important to not put yourself on a strict or restrictive diet while pregnant. As we have mentioned before in our post about pregnancy weight loss, you should not actively seek to see the number on the scale go down during this stage of your life, nor should weight loss ever be a goal during pregnancy.
That being said, you can avoid gaining too much weight by adopting a few simple strategies! And that’s what today’s article is here to explain. Keep reading to learn how to maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy!
How To Maintain A Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Eat a balanced and nutritionally rich diet.
It all starts with the food you feed both your body and your growing baby! A balanced diet is key during pregnancy, as being undernourished can cause problems with fetal development and have a negative impact on your growing baby. Not getting the right vitamins and minerals can lead to low birth weight, birth defects, heart complications, and even mental health conditions for your future child. So eating well during pregnancy will help you avoid unhealthy weight gain and give the best start to baby. Our entire goal is to help you do this in a realistic, simple way, but for starters, here are our favorite healthy breakfast ideas for pregnant women to inspire you.
Drinking enough water is necessary both for avoiding unhealthy weight gain and supporting your pregnancy journey! Pregnant women need to drink more water than the average non-pregnant person for many reasons, one, your baby is quite literally swimming in it. Most will need more than your typical ‘8 glasses per day’ recommendation! The official recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians is to drink 10 eight-ounce glasses a day, but we have an entire post on the benefits of drinking more water during pregnancy so you can learn why it’s so important beyond healthy weight gain!
Try pregnancy-friendly exercise.
Although our focus is on nutrition here at The Prenatal Nutritionist, we can’t talk about weight management without mentioning exercise. There’s no reason to stop moving once you’re pregnant! Exercise is key to helping you manage a healthy weight gain during this stage. According to the ACOG, it’s healthy to start or continue a regular fitness routine during pregnancy, as long as there are not any dangerous movements involved. Don’t shy away from it if you aren’t feeling sick.
Exercise has plenty of health benefits, but it’s, of course, important to find something you actually enjoy doing. If you want to exercise regularly, find an accountable friend and do something you find joy in. You could do five or three days a week, and opt for a variety of pregnancy-friendly activities like yoga, cardio dance classes, pilates, and stretching. Just double-check that everything you’re doing to stay active is pregnancy safe.
Find a balance with sweets and carb-heavy foods.
Everybody knows it’s common to only want sweets and carbs especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. When nausea hits, it is really hard to stomach anything other than carbs, we get it. If possible, focus on complex, whole grain carbs like potatoes, oatmeal, whole-grain toast, or high-fiber cereals and fruits. Between all the highly processed foods, sneaky sources of hidden sugar, and phony health foods, it can be tough to figure out what to eat and what to avoid.
Try to find some form of fats and protein that will accompany your carbs like cheese with your crackers, yogurt with your fruit, and nut butter with your oatmeal. Also, know that eating a little more carbs than usual in the first trimester won’t make or break your pregnancy weight gain. It is much better to eat pasta than to not eat anything at all. These foods still have tons of nutrients for you and baby, but keep that protein in mind!
Consider weight check-ins.
Keeping track of your weight gain during pregnancy is a great way to know if you need to make any adjustments as you go, but it is absolutely NOT essential. I would not recommend this practice for those recovering from an eating disorder. Only partake in this practice if it is truly beneficial for you, and do not do it if it negatively affects your mental health. Your doctor or midwife will likely do routine weight check-ins so if this is all you prefer to partake in, that is okay, too. Weight check-ins are helpful to some so they know where they are with their pregnancy weight gain, but to others, it may do more harm than good.
Keep an eye on those cravings.
Cravings are part of all healthy pregnancies, there’s no denying that, and for the most part, they are totally normal. However, they can get out of hand for some people, and if they are really strong, this could indicate a potential problem. Listening to your body is recommended when it comes to cravings like needing a glass of milk for extra iodine, but when the sweet tooth is feeling overwhelming, this may be a sign of a blood sugar imbalance. Be aware of your cravings and be smart about when you choose to honor them. Sometimes you just need to eat what you are craving and move on, but a lot of the time a healthy and sweet alternative will do just fine!
Don’t eat for two – that’s a pregnancy myth.
There are several pregnancy food myths out there like eating for two which has been accepted as a regular pregnancy thing over the years. We hate to break it to you, but this one is a huge myth that needs debunking ASAP! Here’s the deal. Most pregnant women don’t even need to eat any extra food until the second trimester, but this will vary based on the individual.
A tall-tell sign you need to up your intake is feeling hungrier throughout your day. You may read ranges from 200 – 450 more calories depending on the trimester, but know this all depends on YOUR weight and personal nutrition needs! You should consult with your registered dietitian nutritionist to know exactly how many extra calories you might need to eat. But eating for two is definitely not an accurate recommendation!
How are you maintaining a healthy weight gain during pregnancy?
Those are our favorite strategies to keep a healthy weight gain as a future mom! Remember that both weight loss and weight gain can happen during pregnancy, and with both, you are able to have a healthy pregnancy. As long as the baby is growing well, and you’re eating a nourishing diet to meet your nutrient needs, your weight should not be the main focus!
Of course, always check with your health care team before making any drastic changes to your diet while pregnant. If you want to know exactly what to eat to have a healthy pregnancy, check out The Prenatal Nutrition Library. An all-in-one searchable online hub for up-to-date guidance directly from a pregnancy registered dietitian including trimester-specific meal plans!