One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy is craving for certain types of food.
For expectant mums, this can be a hankering for strange or unlikely combinations of food or things you didn’t want to eat before.
Additionally, you’ll notice an increase in your appetite during pregnancy since your growing baby also demands more nourishment. And she’ll be sending you this message several times throughout the day.
Specialists from an obstetrics and gynaecology clinic say that you may start noticing this increase in your appetite as early as the first trimester of your pregnancy.
These two reasons can cause expecting mums to gain weight, with most women adding somewhere between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy.
Therefore, you can expect to gain weight when you are pregnant.
Although it is normal for you to gain weight while pregnant, you need to be careful about gaining too much.
This is because if you gain too much weight, you will be at higher risk for the following conditions:
- Gestational diabetes
- Unplanned caesarean section
- Shoulder dystocia or the baby’s shoulder getting stuck during delivery
- Hard to lose postpartum weight
However, you also have to be careful about gaining less than the weight your doctor recommends. This is because if you are underweight, your baby will also have a birth weight that’s lower than normal.
When you are underweight during pregnancy, your child may also struggle to breastfeed, combat infection, and hit developmental milestones.
Your doctor will discuss with you your ideal weight during pregnancy based on how much you weighed before getting pregnant.
If you were underweight, your specialist might recommend gaining more than someone with a higher pre-pregnancy weight.
On the other hand, if you’re starting pregnancy at a higher weight, you may be asked to gain fewer pounds.
Once you know the ideal weight you need to have during the different stages of your pregnancy, you can follow these tips for gaining and keeping a healthy weight:
1. Have a balanced diet.
A nutrient-rich, balanced diet is essential for staying healthy and maintaining the right weight during your pregnancy.
A recommended balanced diet for mums-to-be is as follows:
- Five servings of fresh fruits (with at least one serving of citrus fruit) and vegetables (with at least one serving of an orange veggie and two servings of dark green leafy vegetables).
- Two to three servings of lean proteins, such as chicken without the skin, fish, eggs, or cooked dried beans and peas.
- Six servings of enriched, whole-grain bread and cereals.
- Three servings of non-fat or low-fat milk or milk products, such as yoghurt.
If you are stocking up on these food items, make sure you follow the right storage practices for bread and other frozen foodstuffs to prolong their freshness.
2. Control your portion sizes.
When you’re pregnant, you may find it hard to stop eating until you finish a pint of your favourite ice cream or box of pizza.
Doing this frequently is a guarantee that you will gain weight unhealthily.
Although you can give in to your cravings once in a while, you have to watch your portion sizes to avoid overeating.
To curb your cravings for certain foods, add some fruits and veggies to the plate or bowl you’re using to eat.
You can also use a small dessert-sized plate when eating. This kind of dish makes the food appear a lot more than it is, allowing you to think that you’re eating more than you actually are.
3. Eat small, frequent meals.
Another way you can control your portions and curb your cravings is by eating small meals several times throughout the day.
By eating small meals every two to three hours, you can keep your hunger pangs in check and your energy levels up.
Additionally, this eating practice will help stabilise your blood sugar levels and prevent you from overeating on your next meal.
Eating small, frequent meals can also help you minimise the frequency of or manage your heartburn, an issue that many expectant mums struggle with.
4. Include fibre and protein-rich foods at every meal.
Eating vegetables, fruits, and lean meats at every meal allows you to increase your intake of fibre and protein.
With these nutrients, you can control your hunger levels and regulate your blood sugar efficiently.
Fibre and protein-rich foods can also help make you feel full longer.
Regular bowel movement is also an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight. When you eat foods rich in fibre and protein at every mealtime, you keep constipation at bay.
5. Stay physically active.
Getting regular workouts is also a must if you want to maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy.
Exercising 30 minutes daily or most days of the week allows you to get more health benefits from working out. However, speak with your doctor first to check if it is safe for you to do this.
Walking is the safest exercise to do while pregnant. It does not strain your joints and carries a low risk for injury. Additionally, it allows you to get fresh air and natural vitamin D from the sun, as long as you go out during cooler times of the day.
Swimming is another safe option.
If you had a workout routine or were already active before getting pregnant, continue exercising at a level you and your doctor are comfortable with.
However, as you go further along in your pregnancy, be cautious with activities that put you at risk for falling since your balance isn’t quite the same when you are pregnant.
6. Stay hydrated.
Lastly, drinking a lot of water while pregnant allows you to experience plenty of health benefits. It helps your body flush away waste and reduce your risk for constipation.
Additionally, you need more water than the average person to form amniotic fluid, produce extra blood, build new tissue, and carry nutrients to your baby.
To ensure you get enough water every day, bring with you a refillable bottle everywhere you go. Take note of how many times you drink from it.
If you don’t like the taste of plain water, infuse it with fresh fruits and herbs to enhance its flavour naturally.
You can also drink fresh fruit juices and smoothies to ensure you stay hydrated.
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for your and your baby’s wellness during and after your pregnancy. As such, make this a priority for the next nine months after learning that you are pregnant.