You hear the phrase “eating for two” constantly in pregnancy. And some days, it can feel like you could eat for about 16. It can be easy to get carried away and give into cravings. However, that may not be the healthiest choice for you and your baby.
“The amount of weight you should gain during pregnancy is very individual,” says Michelle Spector, MD and OB-GYN for Capital Women’s Care. “On average, a woman should gain about 20-25 pounds during her pregnancy. That number can change if she’s overweight or underweight, or having twins.”
Dr. Spector also busts the “eating for two” myth:
“You’re actually eating for 1.2,” she clarifies. “Pregnant women don’t need to double their calories. They should only have about 200 more calories each day than they usually do, which isn’t that much more.”
Dr. Spector’s Tips on How to Maintain a Healthy Weight During Pregnancy
Change the way you eat.
Eating three large meals a day doesn’t work when you’re pregnant. Nausea, reflux and general discomfort makes it hard to eat a lot at one meal. Instead, Dr. Spector suggests eating three small meals and 2-3 healthy snacks throughout the day. This eating schedule makes it easier to get the nutrients you and baby need, helps manage cravings, maintains blood sugar, and keeps you full and comfortable.
Choose the right foods.
Do your best to pick healthy food options when it comes to meals and snacks. Indulging in cravings and treats is okay in moderation, but try not to make it a regular habit. Be sure to stick to any diet your doctor recommends to help manage specific health conditions, like gestational diabetes.
Generally, Dr. Spector recommends pregnant women:
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies
- Eat complex carbohydrates with protein, like a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter
- Eat only low-mercury fish, such as tilapia or salmon
Be sure to keep the following foods off your plate:
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid fatty foods
- Avoid spicy foods
Learn more about recommended foods during pregnancy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women with a healthy pregnancy get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week. That may sound like a lot, but when you break it down across the week, it works out to about 30 minutes, five days a week. Even just 10 minutes at a time counts toward your daily activity.
Start by talking to your doctor to create an exercise plan that’s right for you. Walking, swimming and yoga are generally good options for pregnant women at every fitness level.
When you get thirsty during your pregnancy, reach for water first. Doctors recommend drinking between 8-10 8-ounce glasses of water each day for a healthy pregnancy to deliver some powerful benefits to you and your baby:
- Helps manage blood pressure
- Reduces risk of Braxton-Hicks contractions
- Prevents urinary tract infections
- Prevents headaches, fatigue and swelling
Maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t need to be complicated. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns you have about your diet and weight.