Most women don’t want to gain too many pounds while pregnant–but what actually constitutes a healthy pregnancy weight gain? Is it possible to watch or control body weight while pregnant–and more importantly–what are the implications of dieting while pregnant? An overwhelming number of experts give the strikingly similar answers to these questions.
Weight Watchers During Pregnancy?
According to Weight Watchers Health Notice (found within the company’s History and Philosophy), “Weight Watchers prohibits participation in its weight loss plan … during pregnancy.” Also, both the Terms and Conditions of Use of Weight Watchers as well as the Subscription Agreement (listed under the company’s Health Disclaimer) states clearly that the program “… is not intended for use by minors, pregnant women, or individuals with any type of health condition.”
Dieting During Pregnancy
Overwhelmingly, dieting during a pregnancy is not recommended by experts. When a woman restricts her caloric intake to less than the daily needs of her fetus and her own body, several things can happen. Likely, fewer calories means fewer essential nutrients, such as iron, calcium and folic acid–all of which are extremely important in a baby’s development. In the second and third trimesters, women who diet or eat too few calories can actually “seriously hamper the development of their babies,” according to Arlene Eisenberg, author of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
The Myth of Eating for Two
In the first trimester, it is recommended that a woman take in an extra 250-300 calories per day; in the second and third trimesters, the recommendation increases to anywhere between 300-350 calories per day. These calories can be easily achieved by having a glass of skim milk and a piece of whole wheat toast with a bit of peanut butter–which is nothing like eating for two people in one day.
There are four exceptions to these standard caloric recommendations. If a woman is overweight or obese when she becomes pregnant, her doctor may instruct her to limit her calories in a way different from a woman who is within her healthy weight range. In such a case, the obstetrician will provide daily food guidelines to make sure that the growing fetus is receiving all the important nutrients. Conversely, a pregnant woman who is underweight as well as women carrying multiple fetuses might be instructed to eat more calories per day. A pregnant adolescent will be given special eating instructions because she, too, is still growing.
Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Nearly all pregnancy experts agree that eating well–quality food (fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains) as opposed to empty calories (sugary and fried foods)–during pregnancy will aid a woman in faster weight loss after delivery. The Mayo Clinic’s current recommendations for weight gain based on Body Mass Index (BMI) during pregnancy are as follows: Underweight (BMI less than 18.5)–28 to 40 pounds; Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9)–25 to 35 pounds; Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9)–15 to 25 pounds; Obese (BMI 30 or greater)–11 to 20 pounds.