Preventing Excessive Weight Gain During Pregnancy

My first pregnancy I gained a lot more weight than I should have.  I worked out on a regular basis, but I was constantly eating more than was necessary.  And anyone that has been pregnant knows how hard it is to control your eating while pregnant.  This second time around I was determined to gain only what was absolutely necessary for my baby's health.

I should let you know that I am not in my twenties and NOT naturally thin.  My whole family (parents and siblings) is prone to gaining weight easily.  It is in our genes.  How I wish I could be like my husband who is naturally thin and does not have the struggles with food that I do!  During my first pregnancy, I was 29.  This second pregnancy I was 34.  I was definitely not in my prime with my second pregnancy.  

So here are my tips for maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy:

Get in the mindset that you are NOT eating for two:   During my first pregnancy, I was under the impression that I could eat anything I wanted.  My worst weight gain actually happened during my first trimester.  I can clearly remember that as soon as I found out I was pregnant--even before the cravings started--I stopped controlling my eating. I was never a calorie counter, but I was always mindful about what I ordered at restaurants and what I put on my plate.  My first 15 pounds were gained out of a pure belief that I could have whatever I wanted because I was eating for two and I stopped being careful about my food choices.  However, during pregnancy you are only suppose to eat approximately 300 calories more a day--that is hardly eating for two.  So this second time around, throughout my whole pregnancy I kept a different mindset--I am NOT eating for two, just one and a fraction.

Make Good Choices:  Pile on the veggies and the fruit.  Have lean meats.  That is a good rule of thumb even if you are not pregnant but let your mothering instincts help you while you are pregnant.  Sweets such as cookies, donuts, candy, white bread (see my blog on breads to find out why) are empty calories that do not do anything for your baby.  Our instinct as mothers is to protect--so think about protecting your child by helping them get the best nutrients possible--and that is by avoiding processed foods altogether. 

Substitute:   Cravings when you are pregnant come with an intensity that is hard to explain to the non-pregnant.  You cannot ignore them, but you can manage them. For example, what I would do when I was craving something sweet, I would substitute in something a little healthier.  My favorite treat when I was craving ice cream or cookies was to have yogurt with granola.  To manage the amount, I would also use my 5 year old daughters bowls or little plastic storage containers so I would not serve myself too much.

Eat When You are Hungry:  There is being careful and then there is being irresponsible.  You do not want to starve yourself as you will also be starving your baby.  If I was hungry, I ate.  I kept healthy snacks around such as apples, baby carrots, granola bars, cheese sticks, and popcorn.  The other important part about snacking is that it would avoid me overeating during my mealtimes.  Arriving at a meal starving makes you eat fast and quickly pack on extra calories you wouldn't have consumed otherwise.

7 Months Pregnant
Excercise:  This is one of the hardest ones, especially during the first trimester and the last trimester.  You are just so tired, but I would force myself to do something, even if I had to nap afterwards.  My workouts were a little intense and I wouldn't recommend them for everyone, but even walking is something anyone can do.  I also did Zumba and there was another pregnant woman in my class who believes that the Zumba really helped her.  She would modify the steps, but kept her body moving to keep it fun.  I cannot highlight enough how important physical activity is to pregnancy (assuming your doctor has not forbade it).  I truly believe that my willingness to workout during my pregnancy helped me in labor (I pushed for less than 5 minutes before that baby was out and my recovery went really well).  

Lowfat?:  A lot of health professionals recommend drinking low fat milk, low fat yogurt, etc.  I believe that food is best naturally, the way God made it.  It is rare that I drink or eat low fat foods and I don't think it is necessary.  The important part is portion control.  During my pregnancy I tried to consume a lot of dairy for the calcium and I didn't have issues with the weight.  I think the calories are really packed on by empty calories such as sweets, lots of unnecessary carbs, and overdoing the portions.

Those are my tips based on my experience with two pregnancies.  As with anything, every woman is different and you have to work with your doctor on what you are allowed and not allowed to do based on your pregnancy risk levels.  I know it is possible just to gain a healthy weight that you can quickly lose post partum.  I gained 25 lbs this last pregnancy and 3 months later, I am only 1 lb from my pre-pregnancy weight.  Good luck!

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