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Eating right during and after pregnancy for maintaining a healthy weight

By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 15 February 2021

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Women undergo many physical changes during pregnancy. As the baby grows inside her womb, the weight of the body keeps increasing. It is normal to gain weight during pregnancy, however, the amount of weight gain depends on the weight of the woman before conceiving as too much weight gain can lead to undesired consequences.

Excess weight gain during pregnancy has been associated with several complications such as high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), longer labour and increased risk of having an emergency caesarean section.

Is it necessary to eat for two during pregnancy?

Eating for two is one of the most common myths associated with pregnancy. Pregnant women do not need to eat double their normal diet as there is no need for extra calories during the first trimester. According to research, the need for additional calories increases by 340 calories during the second trimester and by 450 during the third trimester.

How much weight should a woman gain during pregnancy?

The weight gain during pregnancy depends on the body mass index of the woman before conceiving. Body mass index is a way to measure body fat using height and weight of the person.

  • Underweight women (BMI less than 18.4) must not gain over 12 to 18 kilograms of weight during their pregnancy.
  • Women with normal weight (BMI between 18.5 to 24.9) must not gain over 11 to 15 kilograms of weight during their pregnancy.
  • Obese women (BMI between 25.0 to 29.9) must not gain over 6 to 11 kilograms of weight during their pregnancy.
  • Overweight women (BMI at or above 30.0) must not gain over 4 to 9 kilograms of weight during their pregnancy.

What to eat during pregnancy to maintain a healthy weight?

Pregnant women must have a healthy eating plan, which should include all the nutrient-rich foods. Healthy eating tips include:

  • Consume fibrous fruits such as apple, banana, mango and guava, and different vegetables as they provide numerous vitamins and fibre to the expecting mother.
  • Add whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, pasta and brown rice in the diet as it is rich in fibre and B vitamins.
  • Consume low-fat milk and milk products to maintain the levels of calcium and vitamin D in the body.
  • Add beans, peas, eggs, lean meats and seafood to the diet as they are rich sources of protein.
  • Consume healthy nuts such as almonds, cashew, pistachios and walnuts as they filled with protein, healthy fats, folate, vitamin E and magnesium.

Pregnant women may experience indigestion, constipation, and morning sickness during the gestational period, thus certain modifications must be done in their diet to provide relief. These changes include:

  • Instead of having 3 large meals in a day, consume 5 to 6 small meals throughout the day.
  • Eat dry whole-wheat toast or crackers in the morning before getting out of the bed to provide relief from morning sickness.
  • Add high-fibre foods (green vegetables and fruits), whole grains and lots of water in the diet, along with moderate-intensity exercises to relieve and prevent constipation. 
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods as they can increase heartburn and nausea.
  • Eat slowly and do not lie down immediately after eating food.

What to eat after delivery to shed the extra weight?

Pregnant women must understand that they must give their body some time to recover after delivering the baby. The stress experienced by new mothers may result in the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol results in increased appetite and allows fat to accumulate in the lower abdominal region.

New mothers must eat healthy food along with regular exercising, such as brisk walking to allow fat loss and not muscle mass depletion. There are certain measures that can help new mothers lose weight effectively and these include:

  • Do not skip breakfast as it helps in maintaining healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
  • Consume at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Eat lots of fibre-rich foods such as oats, lentils, whole grains, and beans to improve the digestion.
  • Avoid fatty, sugary and processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, pastries and carbonated beverages.

Conclusion

Pregnancy allows women to make healthy life choices. Weight gain during pregnancy allows the baby to grow to a healthy size, but gaining too much or too little weight may create an issue for the baby. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly would allow pregnant women to manage their weight effectively.

For any queries related to women's health, speak to a gynaecologist.

 

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