Weight gain during pregnancy is a normal and healthy occurrence, providing nutritional support for your growing baby. If you are overweight and become pregnant, you and your doctor can discuss whether you should try to maintain your weight or lose pounds during your pregnancy. Your body and developing child have specific nutritional needs that must be met. If you diet, you risk nutritional deficiencies. Talk to your doctor about your weight before and after becoming pregnant to develop a healthy eating and exercise program that can continue post-partum.
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If you are overweight or obese and want to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about a healthy way to lose weight before you conceive. The March of Dimes website discusses some of the risks overweight women face during pregnancy and how you can protect yourself and your baby. If you have a high body mass index, or BMI, you run a greater risk of high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy. You may also have more problems during childbirth; your baby is more likely to be premature, need special care in the neonatal intensive care unit, have a birth defect or be obese in childhood.
While there is no particular pregnancy diet that is right for everyone, Your doctor may recommend particular nutritional guidelines. Folic acid, or folate, is essential, as it can prevent birth defects. You need about 800mcg per day before you become pregnant, and 1,000mcg a day during pregnancy. Foods like leafy greens, citrus fruits, dried beans and peas and fortified cereals are sources of folate; pre-natal vitamins can also supply you with your daily allowance. You also need approximately 1,000mg of calcium, 71g of protein and 27mg iron per day. Talk to your doctor about supplementation, as excess vitamins can be harmful.
During pregnancy, you are eating for two; however, you do not need to double your meals. In fact, according to the American Pregnancy Association, you only need an additional 300 calories per day to fuel your growing baby. Keeping this total in mind can help you maintain adequate nutrition without gaining too much weight.
Although your doctor will know best, if you are overweight or obese and become pregnant, there is a recommended weight gain range for your pregnancy. To decrease your risk of complications, the March of Dimes states that if you are overweight, gaining between 15 and 25 pounds during pregnancy is healthy. If you are obese, you should aim for an increase of only 11 to 20 pounds.
Many overweight or obese women may lose weight during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester when morning sickness is common. However, dieting during pregnancy is not advised. Instead, choose healthy foods like fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy items. Sometimes just eliminating junk foods, which tend to be high in calories and fat, can help you lose weight. By replacing those calories with good foods, you are actually doing your child, and yourself, a favor.