Pregnancy weight gain is a pretty confusing area – after all, you’re growing a brand new human in there so it stands to reason you’ll be packing on a few pounds.
But how much is too much? Or too little? And are you really “eating for two”?
You’re not alone in your confusion. A new global study by Monash University has found that almost a quarter of women are not gaining a healthy amount of weight during their pregnancies while half are gaining too much weight.
Both come with a warning – those gaining too little weight are at increased risk of premature birth and having smaller babies, while those at the other end of the spectrum have an increased chance of having a pre-term birth, needing a caesarean and having overweight or obese children.
So how much should preggies actually be eating?
“Women need not eat more in the first trimester, a bit more in the second trimester and just a little more again in the third,” Professor Helena Teede said in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“You should only increase your calorie intake by a small amount. You are not eating for two.”
Other research suggests an extra 150 calories in the first trimester is adequate – that’s the equivalent of just under two tablespoons of nut butter. Into your second and third trimesters, that number rises to around 300 calories.
Don’t get too hung up on numbers
Rather than counting calories, focus instead on eating healthily – good nutrition will help keep both you and your growing baby healthy through your pregnancy.
Think plenty of veggies and fruit, protein from a range of sources, healthy fats, whole carbohydrates and plenty of water.
Not just about food
And remember, exercise can also be an effective tool to help maintain a healthy weight.
Besides, exercise during pregnancy has many other benefits. Not only can it help alleviate many pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and fatigue, but it can keep your body strong and moving well, make labour easier and help improve the recovery from childbirth.
Of course, how hard and how often you exercise depends on your pre-pregnancy levels of fitness – just make sure your doctor gives you the all-clear first.
Share your pregnancy health tips below!