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Gaining weight is a normal and, more importantly, essential part of a healthy pregnancy. Your body will go through many changes during this time, but weight gain is the change many women find themselves focusing on. How much should you gain? How can you safely manage your weight?

The first thing to consider is your weight before you became pregnant. The lower your weight to begin with, the more weight you should expect to gain and should gain to ensure you and the baby stay well. A woman who is considered to be at a healthy weight for her height can between 25 and 35 pounds during her pregnancy. Women who are considered underweight should gain more than that while women who are overweight or obese should gain less.

You may not gain a lot of weight during your first trimester, but will see most of your weight gain during the second trimester. As for how this weight breaks down, only between six and eight pounds of the weight you gain is your actual baby. The rest is comprised of the amniotic fluid, excess blood, placenta and fluids as well as additional tissue gains like in the breasts.

Nutrition is the first thing to consider once you find out you’re pregnant. While there are certain foods and beverages you should absolutely avoid, the key is balance. Sticking to whole, natural foods that provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals is crucial. Try to avoid processed foods, fast food and junk food when you can — everyone has cravings, so don’t deprive yourself, but remember to keep these indulgences in moderation. As for calories, don’t take the expression “eating for two” literally. Adding around 300 calories to your daily diet is recommended during your second trimester. During your third trimester, adding about 500 calories is ideal.

The next component for healthy weight management during pregnancy is exercise. Staying active will keep you and the baby healthy and the more fit you are, the easier your pregnancy and delivery could be. As a general rule, you can continue the form of exercise you were doing regularly before becoming pregnant. See our previous blog post.  Just avoid going for any new personal records or upping the intensity beyond what you’re used to. Do what you can to be active every day, whether it’s a walk or a prenatal yoga class — just pay attention to how you feel and what your body needs.

Your doctor will monitor your weight gain along with all your vitals throughout your pregnancy. They’ll advise you on how to adjust your diet to make sure you gain the proper amount of weight to help your baby grow. If your weight gain accelerates too much, slows or becomes stagnant, they can run further tests to determine the cause and advise you on what to do next.

Don’t be afraid of gaining the weight you need to gain to help your little one thrive. Do what you can to reduce stress, get the rest you need and keep your diet in balance and you’ll stay on track.

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