Nutrition and Weight Gain

The nutritional choices one makes may have more impact on health than any other single factor. It is also one of the few factors in pregnancy over which a woman has near-complete control. Good nutrition is the perfect target for your new parental anxiety. You may not have any control over your baby’s chromosomes or gender, but you have complete control over what you swallow. Seize this control.

The principles of good nutrition are rather simple. However, the adage that “you’re eating for two” is overly simplistic. In no way does a pregnant women need to come close to “eating for two”. A pregnant woman has months to grow a relatively small human being, add minimally to her own nutritional stores, prepare for lactation and assure an increase in blood volume to account for some loss. As far as quantity goes, eat the equivalent of three meals and a snack in between each meal, and you’ll be fine. In fact, if you eat the “average American diet” plus snacks, you’ll probably be consuming too many calories in the form of fat and simple sugars. The average American diet grows average Americans, who by and large, are too overweight…..or becoming that way.

Weight gain is also an overly simplistic to approach nutrition in pregnancy. “Average weight gains” for pregnant women apply only to “average women”, and no one really knows who they are or what they look like. Forget weight gain. Focus on good nutrition.

Here are some simple guidelines to help you adequately nourish yourself and your baby during pregnancy.

Now, another word about weight gain. If you are eating sensibly, don’t worry about your weight. Most women who are eating sensibly and gain “more than average” may not have the degree of control over their weight that they (or some clinicians) feel they do. If you’re following the guidelines above and still gaining weight which you feel is excessive, talk to your doctor or midwife and have them refer you to a dietician. Dieting has no role in pregnancy. Not all that weight is fat. Some women who gain “excessive” amounts of weight in pregnancy are storing huge amounts of water. Go back and read the guidelines above and do the best you can.

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