Pregnancy: Avoiding excessive pregnancy weight gain

I am three weeks pregnant and I want to get the best nutrition possible. A book recommended a caloric intake of 2,300 calories per day, but that's a lot more than I normally eat. However, it appears that I have to eat that many calories to meet the protein, fiber and other requirements. How can I get the necessary nutrients without gaining excess weight?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Usually, caloric intake increases by about 300 calories for pregnancy, but this depends upon your pre-pregnant weight, body type and activity level.

It is hard to counsel women about nutrition without taking into account a detailed nutritional history. About three to five pounds is generally gained in the first trimester, but up to 10 pounds can be normal. Some women even lose weight if nausea and vomiting persists.

"Excessive" weight gain is not necessarily harmful for either you or your baby, but makes postpartum weight loss more difficult. Also, gains of more than 35 or 40 pounds may result in a large-for-gestational-age infant.

I know that nutritional guidelines for pregnancy seem like a lot of food, but the use of skim milk, whole grains and watching the serving sizes (usually a half cup, for example) can help. You may want to get a scale at first so you can see what three ounces of meat is really like (not much!). Also, when you buy eight ounces of cheese, cut it up right away into eight equal pieces and just eat one ounce at a time.

Drink lots of water to help fill the stomach and provide help for digestion and elimination. Put a two-quart pitcher in your refrigerator and make sure it's gone by the end of the day.

Try to relax, avoid large meals, nibble on anything healthful and start an exercise program. Unfortunately, during pregnancy, there is no room for "extras."

I admire your interest and planning. I am sure that with all your efforts, you will gain just the right amount of weight for you and for your baby. I wish you luck.

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