Eating for two may not seem difficult, but for many women gaining enough weight during pregnancy can be a challenge. Adding extra calories and nutrients by eating whole foods like nuts, fruits, meat and fish is the best practice when it comes to nutrition, but if eating more often or changing the types of food you eat doesn't help with your weight gain, drinking a supplement is another way to increase calories and promote a healthy rate of weight gain.
Gaining Weight During Pregnancy
Gaining enough weight during pregnancy increases the odds that you'll deliver a healthy weight baby weighing more than 5 pounds 8 ounces. The Institute of Medicine provides recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy based on your prepregnancy weight and height, or body mass index. These recommendations provide a range of weight gain that encourage a healthy weight baby at delivery and yet minimize excessive weight gain, which can be hard to lose after delivery.
Prepregnancy BMI and Weight Gain Chart
Prepregnancy BMI Total Weight Gain
Underweight BMI < 18.5 28 to 40 pounds
Normal BMI 18.5-24.9 25 to 35 pounds
Overweight BMI 25-29.9 15 to 25 pounds
Obese BMI > 30.0 11 to 20 pounds
If you were considered underweight before you became pregnant, your health care provider would recommend that you gain a total of 28 to 40 pounds by delivery. This means you'd likely gain around 1 pound per week throughout your second and third trimester.
Make Your Own High-Calorie Supplement
You can easily make your own high-calorie, nutrient-rich smoothies and milkshakes to help boost your pregnancy weight gain. Add nuts and nut butters to your diet when you need to bump up calories, because a small amount packs a big punch. Here are a few foods to experiment with when making your own smoothie or supplement to drink:
- Add peanut butter, almond or cashew butter for a creamy, rich shake with extra protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
-Frozen fruit and berries provide extra calories and contain plenty of antioxidants.
-Use 1 percent or reduced-fat 2 percent milk for extra calories and soy milk or almond milk for lactose intolerance.
-Juice is a concentrated source of calories and rich in vitamin C.
-Add ice cream on occasion for extra calories.
No Time to Make Your Own Smoothie or Milkshake?
When you can't make a homemade smoothie or milkshake, try a convenient and ready-to-drink option, such as several commercially available calorie and protein supplements like Ensure, Boost or Carnation Instant Breakfast. All of these brands and their generic equivalents contain about 250 calories and 10 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving, and the plus versions are higher in calories and offer about 360 calories and 14 grams of protein for the same 8-ounce serving size. If you find that making some changes to your diet or drinking a supplement doesn't improve your weight gain, be sure to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian for more specific guidance.