Do you often find yourself wondering what can be the right choice of nutrition for you and the little angel growing inside you? Are you putting on too many pregnancy pounds? It is very important to maintain a healthy diet during the nine months and in fact, to gain weight.
Yes, that’s right. It is vital to gain some extra pounds during your pregnancy which in medical terms, is known as Gestational Weight Gain. Let’s not be overwhelmed here: what we see on screens about perfect pregnancy figures need not be so. It is rather important to have adequate nutrition for your baby to be born healthy.
How much weight should you gain?
The amount of weight to be gained during pregnancy depends essentially on the pre-pregnancy weight and BMI, irrespective of age, smoking history, parity, race or ethnicity. The following table should give you an idea on the same, the data of which has been collected based on the Institute of Medicine (IoM).
(Weight Gain During Pregnancy | Pregnancy | Maternal and Infant Health | CDC, 2020)
However, if you are expecting triplets or multiple babies, do consult your doctor on the weight goals.\
Why should you keep track of your weight?
There is no doubt that the mother’s weight is quite relevant to the baby’s. Gaining more pregnancy pounds or less of the recommended weight can lead to complications during or after the birth of your little one. (WHO | Maternal body mass index and gestational weight gain and their association with perinatal outcomes in Viet Nam, 2020)
For instance, gaining lesser weight than what is recommended could result in the baby being underweight during birth. This may lead to implications such as difficulty in breastfeeding, more prone to neonatal mortality and illness later in life as well as cognitive developmental delays.
On the other hand, gaining more weight could result in the baby being born large which increases the implications of perinatal health risks. Additionally, it enhances the chances of Cesarean delivery and obesity of the child during the growth years.
Parts of your body prone to weight gain:
Naturally, gaining gestational weight differs from woman to woman. While gaining weight slowly and steadily is quite excellent, it is not unusual to not gain more than 1 to 2 kilos ( 2.2 to 4.4 lbs) in the first trimester. Many women have a growth spurt during which they may gain several pounds in a short time.
Essentially, your pregnancy weight resides in your baby but there are other parts of your body which carries the weight too. These include the amniotic fluid which surrounds the baby, weight in blood and body fluids, breasts, placenta, uterus etc. In addition to building the birthing sac, your body is also providing nutrients and blood supply to your baby in your womb, which is a cause of weight gain (Weight Gain During Pregnancy, 2020).
How can you ensure a healthy weight gain?
Now that you know how much weight you should maintain on an average, let’s get to the question of ‘how to do it’? Naturally, by maintaining a balanced diet you can keep the pregnancy pounds in check. Additional consumption of 300 calories a day is considered to be essential to have a healthy pregnancy. Here are a few steps you can keep track of to ensure that you are taking care of the necessary nutrients (Diet Chart for Healthy Weight Gain during Pregnancy, 2020).
- Improve the quantity and nutrient level of your diet.
- Ensure that your maternal nutritional needs for a healthy reproductive system as well as the nutrients supplied to the fetus are maintained.
- The diet must provide continuous adjustment to body metabolism.
- Ensure that you have a gap of at least 1 hour 30 minutes to a 2-hour gap between dinner and bedtime.
What should be included in your diet?
- Cereals: whole wheat, multi-grain bread, wheat bread, bajra, ragi, jowar etc.
- Pulses: green gram, soya beans, black eyed beans, horse gram
- Fruits: two or three seasonal fruits daily, along with 25 gms of dried fruits
- Vegetables: a cup a day with either lunch or dinner. Avoid having root and tubers
- Raw salad: at least once a day
- Green leafy vegetables: 3 times a week
- Lactose: At least 400 ml of skimmed milk per day
- Oil: 3-4 tablespoon of sunflower or safflower oil a day
- Water and other fluids: 2 to 3 litres per day
- Chicken without skin, non-fried fish or egg whites
What should not be included in your diet?
· Excess coconut
· Too much or sweets or candies
· Deep-fried food
· Soft drinks, honey, jaggery, ice cream, etc.
· Pickle or processed foods
· Flour based food like kulcha, naan, roomali roti
· Too much of fats like butter, cheese, vanaspati, ghee, re-used oils
· Caffeine intake to be limited to 300 mg per day.
· Smoking, Alcohol and substance abuse is an absolute no-no.
Other things to remember:
If you are having a tough time maintaining the diet and monitoring your pregnancy pounds, you can avoid eating at a go and instead, continue with an intake of 5-6 times a day in small amounts.
Moderate intensity of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking is recommended for most normal pregnancies
. You may consult your doctor if you have any restrictions on such physical activities (12 Pregnancy Planning Tips: How to Prepare Your Body, Foods and Infections to Avoid, 2020).