Pregnancy Articles

The Importance of Eating Enough During Pregnancy

Your Diet Affects Your Baby's Health

Oftentimes, the focus of weight gain during pregnancy is targeted at the potential problems related to gaining too much weight. This can scare many pregnant women into eating too little, in an effort to limit or prevent excess weight gain.

However, it is equally as important that woman gain enough weight. It is very important that your baby get proper nutrition from the foods you eat. Dieting or limiting food intake during pregnancy is not a wise idea.

Recommendations for healthy weight gain during pregnancy are based on your weight before you became pregnant. Women who are at "normal" weight (Body Mass Index of 19.8 - 26) when they become pregnant are advised to gain 25 - 35 pounds during their pregnancies. Likewise, experts advise women who are "underweight" (BMI less than 19.8) when they become pregnant to gain 28-40 pounds during their pregnancies.

Healthy eating and healthy weight gain result in many positive pregnancy benefits. Gaining a healthy amount of weight:
  • Counteracts your baby's susceptibility to infection and birth defects caused by low birth weight
  • Decreases your risk for complications such as anemia and pre-eclampsia
  • Reduces the risk of pre-term labor and delivery
  • Helps to ensure a healthy birth weight for your baby, which decreases his risk of delayed development, disease, and mortality during the first few months of life.
During the first trimester, it is normal to gain anywhere from zero to six pounds.

Remember, you body uses food for energy. If you have a history of food restriction or crazy dieting, you may have altered both your metabolism and the way your body uses food when you begin eating normally (such as during pregnancy). Don't be discouraged if you gain quickly during the first trimester. As long as you are meeting your nutrient needs and getting exercise as advised by your physician, your weight gain should taper during the second trimester.

Generally, normal weight and underweight woman gain between one and one-and-a-half pounds per week, throughout the second and third trimesters.

Pregnant woman need to meet these daily minimum serving requirements:
  • Dairy Group: 3 servings (low-fat products are the best choice)
  • Protein Group: 2-3 servings (select low-fat, lean meats and legumes)
  • Grain Group: 6-8 servings (whole grain products are best)
  • Vegetable Group: 3-5 servings
  • Fruit Group: 2-4 servings has tools designed to help you determine your specific nutrient needs during pregnancy, and help you to monitor your successes on a daily basis. A healthy weight gain can help ensure a healthy baby. What you eat while you are pregnant does make a difference-a difference lasts a lifetime.
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About The Author

Tanya Jolliffe
Tanya earned a bachelor's degree in dietetics and nutrition and has more than 15 years of nutrition counseling experience. She has worked with clients in such areas as prenatal nutrition, general family nutrition and therapeutic nutrition in end-stage organ disease.

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