How Much Weight Gain is Healthy During Pregnancy?
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How Much Weight Gain is Healthy During Pregnancy?

What is the healthy amount of weight to gain during pregnancy? When she we put on weight during pregnancy? What is a healthy diet during pregnancy? Am I at risk for gestational diabetes?

When a woman first learns she is pregnant, she is often filled with many contradictory emotions, such as excitemenet and joy but also anxiety and concern about her own health and the health of her baby.  Perhaps she hadn't always had a good diet or exericse regimen?  She might understandably be concerned about gaining too much weight during pregnancy or being unable to lose the weight after delivery.  She might also wonder if she is giving herself and her child the necessary nutrients for achieving and maintaining optimal health.  While most women understand that their health during pregnancy may help the health of their child and aid them in a successful delivery, they might not understand the long term consequences of their weight gain during pregnancy.

According to a report by WebMD, a healthy woman of average weight should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during her pregnancy while underweight women should gain between 28 and 40 pounds.  Overweight women could get by with gaining less weight and may even work with a doctor to lose a bit of weight, though generally losing weight during pregnancy should not occur unless absolutely necessary for the health of the mother.

Typically, ideal weight gain for a healthy woman during pregnancy should include 2 to 4 pounds during the first trimester and one pound per week for the remainder of gestation.  However, not all weight gain, even when done in healthy amounts, is good for the health of the mother and child.  It is important to avoid sugary foods and diets that are rich in tans fats and high fructose corn syrup, as these can cause health problems such as high cholesterol and diabetes.  These foods can also cause fat that is harder to lose after delivery.  Diets that can alter hormone levels, such as soy, should also be avoided as research is showing that the increase in estrogen caused by soy can lead to health problems and even birth defects.  Foods that are high in growth hormones, steroids and antibiotics should also be avoided for the same reasons.  Whenever possible, eat healthy and organic whole foods including diets that are high in fresh fruits and vegetables as well as complex carbohydrates and protein.  Check with the EPA guidelines to see what amounts of certain fish can be safely eaten and what others should be avoided by pregnant women due to high mercury content.

As always, if excessive weight gain is feared, work with a health professional to determine the cause and find a pregnancy diet menu that is attainable in order to help lose the excess weight.  This is because excessive weight gain during pregnancy can not only impair the health of the mother during pregnancy, it can also cause problems with delivery and may even be a contributing factor toward many health problems of both the mother and child later in life.

Gestational diabetes occurs between 3% and 10% of all pregnancies, depending upon the population being studied.  Much as other forms of diabetes, rates of gestational diabetes have doubled over the past decade.  This is in no small part due to our lack of physical activity and poor diets.  Women who are at risk for type 2 diabetes, who are over the age of 35 during their pregnancy, who smoke, are inactive or have a poor diet are all at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes.  While it is treatible, women who have gestational diabetes and their offspring are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.  In addition, women who are obese or who become obese during pregnancy are more likely to have obese infants, who in turn have a greater risk of having many health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.  It is therefore imperitive that a pregnant woman achieves and maintains a healthy diet and engages in at least moderate levels of physical activity.  While "eating for two" is a dangerous and outdated myth, it is recommended that a pregnant woman should consume an extra 100 to 300 calories of healthy food per day while engaging in regular exercise, as advised by a doctor.

 The most important thing to remember is that it is never too late to start a healthy diet and exericse regimen.  Not only can this help prevent many of the problems listed above, it can also help reverse certain risk factors and may even help with a delivery that is free of complications.  Not to mention, a healthy diet that is started during pregnancy can become a healthy habit for the whole family once the child is born.

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