Getting quality nutrition during your pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for your developing baby. Even if you’re already a health nut, you’ll probably need to make some adjustments during pregnancy. And if your eating habits weren’t so great before, now’s the perfect time to change them.

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Maintaining a Healthy Pregnancy Diet
Maintaining a Healthy Pregnancy Diet

Rethink what it means to eat for two

Many women think being pregnant means they can eat whatever and whenever they want. After all, you’re eating for two, right?

Well, not exactly. You really only need about 300 extra calories a day to keep yourself and your baby well nourished. “Eating for two” is not about eating more, it’s about eating right, and making every calorie count.

Fill your plate with wholesome, nutritious foods like lean proteins and lots of veggies. Avoid high-calorie, low-nutrient choices like sodas, sweets, and processed foods.

Find out what to eat — and not eat — while you’re pregnant

Healthy weight gain

If you’re pregnant, you’re supposed to put on a few pounds. But how many?

Gaining too much weight can lead to health problems during pregnancy and complications during labor and delivery, so sticking to a healthy meal plan is important. On the flip side, don’t try any highly restrictive diets while you’re pregnant. Think about it: If you’re skipping meals or cutting out food groups, your baby is, too. And that makes it harder for your little one to get all the nutrients he or she needs.

Healthy eating is just as important after your baby arrives, while your body recovers from the hard work of giving birth. Breastfeeding your baby is hard work, too — it burns around 500 calories a day, and can actually help you lose pregnancy weight more easily. So unless your doctor recommends something different, don’t start a meal plan with restricted calories until you stop breastfeeding.

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How Much Weight Should You Gain in Pregnancy?
How Much Weight Should You Gain in Pregnancy?

Use the chart below to see how much you should gain, and how fast. You’ll need to calculate your body mass index (BMI) first. Keep in mind that these are only estimates. We’ll weigh you at all of your prenatal appointments and talk about whether you’re gaining too much, too little, or just the right amount.

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy

Pre-pregnancy BMI Total weight gain (lbs) Rates of weight gain in 2nd and 3rd trimester (lbs per week)*
Underweight: less than 18.5 28 to 40 about 1 lb
Normal weight: 18.5 to 24.9 25 to 35 about 1 lb
Overweight: 25.0 to 29.9 15 to 25 about 1/2 lb
Obese: 30.0 or more 11 to 20 about 1/2 lb