By: Karen Cooper, DO
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If you are pregnant, you will hear plenty of old wives’ tales, from ways to determine a baby’s sex to tricks for inducing labor. But be especially wary of myths and misinformation about weight gain and pregnancy.
Why? Because maintaining a healthy weight is important for reducing health risks such as gestational diabetes, blood pressure issues and even pre-term delivery. Sorting fact from fiction is crucial — for you and your little one.
“In truth, you need only about 300 extra calories per day for your baby — and that may be less food than you think.”
Karen Cooper, DO
Women’s Health Institute
Myth: I’m pregnant and must eat for two
Fact: In truth, you need only about 300 extra calories per day for your baby — and that may be less food than you think. For example, one cup of greek yogurt, a piece of fruit and a slice of whole grain bread would add about 300 calories to your diet altogether.
Myth: It’s OK to gain a lot of weight during pregnancy
Fact: The actual amount of weight you can gain and stay in good health depends on your size before pregnancy. If you are at a normal weight (defined as a body mass index, or BMI, between 19 and 24.9) then your weight gain can range between 25 and 35 pounds. If you are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9), then 15 to 24 pounds of weight gain is ideal. And if you are obese (BMI of 30 or greater) then a weight-gain range of 11 to 20 pounds is recommended. As your BMI increases, your obstetrician will want to discuss how much weight gain (if any) is best for you and your baby’s development.
Myth: Extra weight is always necessary for development
Fact: Depending on how overweight you are at the time of pregnancy, your own reserves may be sufficient for normal development of your baby. Keep regularly scheduled appointments with your doctor to monitor your and the baby’s well-being.
Myth: Weight loss during pregnancy will harm my baby’s development
Fact: If you are overweight or obese, no weight gain or even some weight loss during pregnancy can be a plus for you and your baby. Not carrying additional weight can decrease the chance of having gestational diabetes, emergency cesarean deliveries, pre-term deliveries and even stillbirths.
Myth: It’s okay to satisfy my cravings
Fact: Not all foods are appropriate for pregnant women. For example, it’s important to reduce your intake of salty foods and avoid fish with high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish. Make sure your cravings fit into a healthy diet and are not supplying too many additional calories.
Can you exercise during pregnancy?