I got the phone call right after my daughter and her husband got the surprising news.
"Looks like … I'm pregnant," she said. "Of course we are really excited."
She hesitated a moment and then added, "But I'm not going to get fat like I did last time. Mark my words! Maybe my nutritionist (mom) can help me stay on track."
Why of course I would be honored, dear one. Here are a few suggestions:
-Keep your weight gain within a healthy range. And that range is determined by your body mass index (BMI) at the beginning of your pregnancy.
-Here's how to calculate your BMI: Multiply your pre-pregnant weight (in pounds) by 703. Divide that total by your height in inches. Divide that total by your height in inches again to get your BMI value.
-BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered "normal" weight. Women in this category who gain between 25 to 35 pounds have been found to have the best birth outcomes.
-BMI of 25 to 29.9 is "overweight." No more than 15 to 25 pounds is considered optimal pregnancy weight gain for these women.
-BMI over 30 is considered "obese." Women in this category have fewer complications when they limit weight gain during pregnancy to no more than 11 to 20 pounds.
By the way, dear, these most recent pregnancy weight gain guidelines are based on the best outcomes for moms as well as babies. You both are important to me.
What's the big deal about gaining enough but not too much weight during pregnancy? We know now that excess weight gain during pregnancy does more than just harm mom's chances for fitting in her jeans soon after delivery.
Researchers are beginning to see that babies who are bathed in excess high-fat calories in the womb may be more prone to health problems. They suspect that kids might even be "programmed" to be obese when mom overeats during her pregnancy.
And high fat diets-even when mom is not overweight-may damage baby's developing organs, some studies suggest. In the long run, this may interfere with the regulation of food intake and blood glucose levels… and lead to health problems.
Track your weight gain during pregnancy. Of course you should always follow your doctor's advice. But in general, a woman of normal weight should gain about 10 pounds by the middle (20th week) of pregnancy. An overweight woman should only gain about 5 pounds by her 20th week.
Here's a cool chart to help you track your weight gain during pregnancy: www.iom.edu/About-IOM/Making-a-Difference/Kellogg/~/media/Files/About%20the%20IOM/Pregnancy-Weight/Pregnancyweightzcard.pdf
Focus on a diet that is "nutrient dense" and low in saturated fat. That means vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low fat dairy, eggs, lean meats, fish, and poultry. And not just because your nutritionist mom says so. A recent review of pregnancy and nutrition funded by the National Institutes of Health concludes, "The quality of daily food intake is the most important and most ignored factor determining pregnancy outcomes."
Check out this site to create a personalized daily food plan for your pregnancy:
And of course you can call your mom … anytime. That's also very important, say experts.
(Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at email@example.com.)
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