Weight gain during pregnancy

How many pounds should I gain?

When it comes to pregnancy women are concerned about how much weight to gain- everyone will be ready to give you advice, especially when it comes to nutrition. One of the most common adages is the old “Oh you’re eating for two now”, but is that really correct? Surprisingly, the answer is no. Every person’s calorie needs will vary depending on several factors, but in general calorie needs don’t increase a whole lot during pregnancy, and they definitely don’t double! During the first trimester, calorie needs remain the same. Some people may experience more nausea and morning sickness during the first trimester, which could impact their energy needs, but if you’re feeling great just go ahead and continue to eat like you normally do. During the second trimester you’ll want to increase your intake by about 300-350 calories per day. This could mean adding a snack into your routine, or just increasing portion sizes at meals a bit. The third trimester warrants an additional 100-150 calories per day, so a total increase of 450-500 calories per day from your normal intake.

For most people, pregnancy is not the time to start tracking your intake and counting calories. However, it is a good idea to be mindful of how much you are eating as well as how much weight you are gaining during your pregnancy. Your health care provider will discuss weight gain goals with you, but for most, a weight gain of 3-4 pounds in the first trimester is appropriate, followed by 1 pound weight gain per week throughout the second and third trimesters. Monitoring your weight gain is a good way to tell if you are getting enough nutrition without having to do all the tedious tracking. Remember that baby is relying on you to give them all the nutrition they need to grow and develop properly. So, choose a wide variety of nutrient dense foods, don’t skip meals and  drink plenty of water to give yourself and baby the support you both need during a healthy pregnancy.

Where Does the Extra Weight Go During Pregnancy?

What should I eat during my pregnancy? Food Groups

It is always important to eat a variety of foods throughout the day making certain you get the nutrients both you and your baby need. Here is a look at the food groups and some suggested sources for creating a healthy diet during pregnancy.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain many important nutrients for pregnancy especially, Vitamin C and Folic Acid. Pregnant women need at least 70 mg of Vitamin C daily, which is contained in fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and honeydew, and vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, and brussel sprouts.
In order to prevent neural tube defects, 0.4 mg of folic acid per day is recommended. A good source of folic acid can be found in dark green leafy vegetables (other sources of folic acid include legumes, such as black or lima beans, black-eyed peas, and veal). You should have at least 2-4 servings of fruit and 4 or more servings of vegetables daily.

Bread and Grains

The body’s main source of energy for pregnancy comes from the essential carbohydrates found in breads and grains. Whole grain and enriched products provide important nutrients such as iron, B Vitamins, fiber, and some protein, even. You can get the required amount of folic acid from fortified bread and cereal.
Depending on your weight and dietary needs, you should consume anywhere between 6-11 servings (6-11 oz) of bread/grains daily.


Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and beans contain the protein, B vitamins and iron needed in pregnancy. Your developing baby needs plenty of protein, especially in the second and third trimesters. Iron helps to carry oxygen to your growing baby, and also carries oxygen to your muscles to help avoid symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, irritability, and depression.
The U.S. RDA recommends about 27 grams per day. Lean beef, chicken, lamb, liver, turkey, and veal are good options. Fish and some other seafood can be a good nutritional choice for pregnancy, within guidelines. Avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury. (Read more about Fish and Mercury Levels). You should consume at least 3 servings of proteindaily.

Dairy Products

You have to get at least 1000 mg of calcium daily to support a pregnancy. Calcium is essential for building strong teeth and bones, normal blood clotting, and muscle and nerve function. Since your developing baby requires a considerable amount of calcium, your body will take calcium from your bones, if you do not consume enough through your diet (which can lead to future problems, such as osteoporosis).
Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, cream soups, and puddings. You can find calcium in green vegetables, seafood, beans, and dried peas. You should consume at least 4 servings of dairy products daily.

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