One fear that is common in nearly every woman, whether they'll admit it or not, is that they are afraid of the toll pregnancy will take on their body--specifically the amount of weight that they'll gain. It's a very common misconception that during pregnancy you are eating for two. True, you are growing another life inside of you, but it's a tiny baby who should end up weighing about six to ten pounds, not a full-sized adult like yourself. In order for your baby to develop, your body needs about 300 extra calories a day. That's a banana and a spoonful of peanut butter or a hard boiled egg and a glass of milk. If you were a healthy weight before becoming pregnant, you should aim to gain no more than thirty pounds for a single baby. If you were overweight, twenty pounds is a good amount of weight to gain.
1. Eat Three Meals with Small Snacks in Between: The best way to keep your blood sugar levels steady and insulin hormones properly regulated is to eat three balanced meals a day. Eat more calories for breakfast and fewer at each meal as the day progresses. If you were eating a healthy diet before you became pregnant, continue eating in this way and add two or three small snacks to your day, when you are hungry, to get the extra calories that you need.
Some women loose weight during the first trimester. This is nothing to worry about as long as you continue to eat a healthy diet and take a good multi-vitamin. If you find you don't have much of an appetite, find the foods that are appetizing and eat them. By the fourth month, you should be feeling better, have a normal appetite again and will start to gain weight.
2. Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods: Western diets are filled with far too many sugar-laden and processed foods. As you grow a new life inside of you, remember that your food helps to feed your baby so what goes into your body also effects that of your baby. Also, research has shown that babies whose mothers ate a varied diet of fresh and healthy foods were less likely to grow up into picky eaters. You'll be able to eat far more fresh fruits and vegetables than you can chips and soda for the same amount of calories and the fresh produce won't leave excess sugar, fats and chemicals inside of your body.
3. Don't Eat After 8 PM: Try to get in all of your daily calories by six or seven o'clock in the evening whenever possible. If you have to eat early and need a snack before bed, get it in before eight o'clock since you are unlikely to burn off any of those calories after you consume them. In the evening, your body slows down to prepare for sleep and, unless you are not the average person, you'll spend most of your evening doing a sedentary activity like watching television, using the computer or reading. It's not that these are bad activities, and you shouldn't do any vigorous exercise within three hours of going to sleep, but it's important to get in the majority of your calories during the hours in which you are most active.
4. Exercise Daily: Some women are afraid of hurting their new little one and so they give up or don't do any exercise during the whole nine months. This is a huge disservice to your body and at the minimum, unless your health doesn't permit it, you should be walking daily. Thirty to sixty minute walks, at a moderate pace will keep your blood flowing properly, burn calories and keep your muscles toned. Many women who walk sixty to ninety minutes daily, throughout their pregnancy, say that it helped them to have faster and easier labors.
For those who want to do more than walk, there are no shortage of workout DVDs for pregnant women. From cardio to strength training and pilates to yoga, you are sure to find a program that you'll enjoy. As always, consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise programs.
5. Get Enough Sleep: This may be difficult if you already have little ones to take care of, a demanding job or just by the fact that it is uncomfortable to sleep while pregnant, especially the further along you get. But make sure to get a minimum of six hours of sleep, at one time, each night. Eight or more is better but for many women, it's not realistic. If you find yourself tired during the day and are able to spare half an hour, squeeze in a quick "power nap" after lunch. Just a short thirty minute nap will leave you feeling refreshed and able to get through the rest of your day without hitting up a coffee house for some liquid energy.
While gaining weight is a normal part of pregnancy, and very necessary, following the five steps above will help to keep you from adding pounds that are not necessary. Most importantly, follow the advice of your doctor or medical professional to make sure that you are getting the adequate amount of nutrition for both you and your little one.