Weighing In

Eating For Two?

For some women, being pregnant can signal an "eating for two" mentality that takes a woman from healthy to overweight while she believes she's taking good care of herself and her baby. Indeed, a woman is eating for two when she is pregnant, but that doesn't mean doubling up on portions. The baby gets his/her nutrition from the food eaten that is broken down by the body and the nutrients are supplied to the placenta for baby to "eat." A pregnant woman needs between 100 and 300 extra calories per day to meet the needs of a growing baby. This number of calories does not constitute three extra meals per day.

Determining How Much Weight To Gain Using BMI

To determine how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy, ask your health care provider. It depends upon how much you weighed before conception and if that weight was appropriate for your height. A scale called the Body Mass Index is used to calculate the height/weight ratio and is expressed in a number which signifies weight status.

According to the scale, a BMI of 18.5 to 25 indicates a healthy weight/height ratio and you should gain between 25 to 30 pounds during pregnancy. If your BMI was under 18.5, it indicates that you are underweight and should gain between 28 to 40 pounds. You are overweight if your BMI is between 25 and 29.9 and you should gain between 15 to 25 pounds. A BMI of more than 30 indicates obesity and weight gain should not exceed between 11 and 20 pounds. If you are pregnant with twins and you started at a healthy weight, then you should gain 37 to 54 pounds, 31 to 50 pounds if you were overweight and 25 to 42 pounds if you were obese.

Healthy Diet And Exercise Are The Rule Of Thumb

It is never healthy to go on a diet when you are pregnant, so to be sure your baby is getting the right nutrients by eating a healthy and well-balanced diet. An exercise program is also an important aspect of a healthy pregnancy. Not only is it beneficial in terms of blood flow and oxygen intake, it also helps to keep your weight under control and may make delivery easier.

Health Risks For Over And Underweight Moms

Women who gain large amounts of weight during pregnancy are at higher risk for a caesarean delivery. They also tend to hold the weight after the birth and can go into their next pregnancy with some of the extra weight they gained the first time around. The problem with being overweight in pregnancy is the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

Besides the health risks for mom, babies of women who have gained a lot of weight during their pregnancy may be overly large at birth, causing labor complications for both mother and baby. The babies of overweight women often grow up to be overweight as well.

Breastfeeding becomes a very difficult and challenging issue for women who are overweight before pregnancy. They often have difficulty starting and continuing on with breastfeeding. There may be several reasons for this. Experts suggest poor milk production and difficulty in positioning the baby to nurse are just two of many problems encountered.

Conversely, women who are underweight at the beginning of their pregnancy, or who do not gain enough weight during their pregnancy are at higher risk for a baby who has low birth weight or she may have a preterm delivery. There are serious health risks that may be potentially fatal for the baby in this type of situation.

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