In the last few months, at least 10 people I know have announced a new pregnancy. My social media is crammed with their announcements, ultrasounds, and puking reports. I also recently read a somewhat disturbing statistic. In a recent study, 75% of women followed were heavier one year after giving birth than before their pregnancy. The women studied gained an average of 32 pounds while pregnant, which is within the range of recommended weight gain for normal weight women. With this in mind, here are a few pointers on pregnancy weight gain and losing that weight once baby arrives.
-Embrace a healthy amount of weight gain. If you begin pregnancy at a normal weight, 25-35 pounds is considered a healthy amount of weight to gain. If you are overweight, aim for 15-25 pounds. But remember: the more you gain, the more you will have to lose postpartum.
-You are eating for two, but one of you has a pretty small appetite. Even during the third trimester, you only need an extra 300 or so calories a day. Adding a couple healthy snacks during the day will easily meet those needs.
-Breastfeed! Breastfeeding mothers may need up to 500 extra calories a day, which is more than during pregnancy. However, don’t use this as an excuse to overeat. Maintaining healthy snacks from pregnancy will keep up your intake while still managing a slight deficit to help with weight loss.
-Exercise. Exercising while pregnant can help prevent excess weight gain. Exercising after baby can help you shed pounds.
-Be patient. I have heard many mothers say “9 months on, 9 months off.” Even if you only gain 25 pounds with a healthy pregnancy, you will likely give birth to a 7-10 pound baby. That is 15+ pounds of other tissues that will take time to adjust back. Also realize your calorie needs may change as baby grows and your breastfeeding changes.
On a personal note, I gained close to 35 pounds with my pregnancy. My weight gain was on track for the first 7-8 months, but I kind of overdid it in the end. I was fortunate that I actually lost all my baby weight very quickly, within a month. However, when my baby was about 5 months, I was starting to gain some of that weight back. As she started eating more food and breastfeeding less, I needed to cut back on my intake and exercise more. It was a constant challenge, but worth it.
Good luck to all mothers-to-be!
Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!