Everyone’s heard the phrase “eating for two.” Many women enjoy their ability to eat however much they want while pregnant, no longer having to worry about developing a belly. But a pregnant woman should not be eating for two, at least not if she wants to stay healthy and have the safest pregnancy. In fact, during the first trimester, there should be virtually no increase in caloric intake, and only a very small weight gain.
Being underweight or overweight during pregnancy can increase the risk of of complications including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm delivery, miscarriage, and more. Gaining more weight than is necessary may make it more difficult to get back to normal after pregnancy — many women complain about how they never lost all their pregnancy weight, and this extra weight can be an extra emotional stress for a woman suffering postpartum depression. And if a woman really wants to avoid those pregnancy stretch-marks, the best way to do so is by carefully controlling her weight gain.
So what is the right kind of weight gain? How much more should a pregnant woman eat?
The IOM actually has guidelines for pregnancy weight gain. You can check them out here. The recommended rates of weight gain are based off of BMI classifications — underweight, “normal” weight, and overweight. While these numbers are very useful, they’re broad recommendations. What you really need is a conversation with your personal doctor.
After all, while you don’t want to put on too much weight (or for your baby to put on too much weight), you also want to make certain that baby is getting all the nutrients needed. The best thing you can do is discuss your diet with your doctor — and make sure you’re taking a good prenatal vitamin that gives you and your baby all the extra nutrients your diet is missing!