Pregnancy Weight Gain Guide

You’re already gaining weight, so it makes sense that many new moms might think of pregnancy as an excuse to fill up on favorite foods. But it’s actually important for you and your health care provider to monitor your weight gain during pregnancy. Experts now know that putting on too many pounds can increase the risk for developing serious pregnancy conditions, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, and also up the chance of a premature delivery. Keep these tips in mind in order to gain at a healthy pace while expecting.

Gain gradually

Experts says that most of the weight gain should occur during the second and third trimesters, and at a gradual pace. Your health care provider is the best resource for how much and when to gain during your pregnancy, and you'll be weighed at each prenatal visit. If you’re gaining too much, too fast, opt for healthier food choices, eat six small meals throughout the day instead of three larger ones, and talk to your doctor about starting an exercise routine. If you gain an excessive amount, your doctor may suggest waiting until after your pregnancy to lose the weight.

Eat well

Turns out that you don't need to eat a lot more to properly nourish yourself and your new baby when you're pregnant. You only need an additional 150 to 200 healthy calories each day when expecting during the first trimester, and about 300 during the second and third. Instead of munching on junk food, look for nutritious snacks that are high in protein and vitamins to support your growing baby. Cheese and whole wheat crackers, nut butter and apple slices, sliced vegetables with hummus, and even frozen fruit bars are all good options.

Don’t rush it

It may be tempting to get back to your pre-baby size as soon as possible, but losing the baby weight too fast can leave you without enough energy to properly take care of your new baby. Stick to a nutritious diet and exercise routine (once your doctor gives you the go-ahead), and put the focus on your health instead of your weight.

Of course, pregnancy is definitely a time to indulge a little. While it’s fine to give in to cravings occasionally, it’s important to keep control of your weight and your diet, not only for your sake, but the health of your new baby, too.

Prenatal Yoga 101

“Keep calm and carry on” should be every expectant new mom’s slogan. Some of the most important things a pregnant woman can do are stay calm, reduce stress levels, and keep her body in the best shape possible. Fortunately, there’s a form of exercise that can help with all these and more: prenatal yoga. Check with your doctor to see if prenatal yoga could be a good fit for you, and read on to learn the benefits and tips for each trimester.

Potential Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

It does a body good. Yoga helps keep you limber, and improves balance and circulation. It also helps strengthen muscles, which provides stamina for childbirth and gives you greater flexibility when finding the best birth position for delivering your new baby.

It teaches you how to breathe easier. Yoga practice utilizes deep breathing, which can help you keep you calm when you need it most. Some yoga methods and classes will also teach you how to breathe through discomfort or pain, which you can utilize during labor, as well as how to relax your muscles, which can make for an easier delivery.

It keeps you centered. Yoga is all about focusing on the present, how your body is feeling, and the sensations you’re experiencing at any given moment. This focus may help you tune into your body’s needs, even after your new baby arrives.

It helps you sleep better. Because yoga may help reduce back and neck pain, and nausea, many expectant moms find they are able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer once they adopt a regular yoga practice.

Tips by Trimester

To stay safe, follow this trimester-by-trimester advice.

First trimester There aren’t many restrictions during this time, but instructors advise expectant new moms to drink lots of water before, during, and after the class. Listen to your body and if you feel any pain or discomfort, stop the pose immediately and ask your instructor for an alternate position.

Second trimester Your expanding stomach will start to affect your balance at this point. Don’t try to hold poses for a long time, and remember to sink into each pose slowly and carefully to avoid injury. Take your time and don’t overdo it. Avoid lying flat on your back now, too, in order to keep blood flowing properly to your uterus.

Third trimester At this point in your pregnancy, it’s best for expectant moms to perform all standing poses with heels to the wall, or using a chair for support to avoid maintain balance. Props such as blocks and straps can also help you move through difficult poses with greater stability.

If you do decide to give yoga a go during pregnancy, make sure to find a studio with an instructor who is trained to work with new moms-to-be. And have fun! You may love the benefits of yoga so much that you continue to do it past your pregnancy.

Second Pregnancy Lowdown: Small Age Gaps

I’ve definitely been experiencing some ups and downs my second pregnancy. The upside is that I have been down this road before and I am very familiar with what is to come my way -- doctor visits, testing and a weak bladder to name a few things. The downside, however: I don’t really have too much time to focus on this pregnancy as a whole. Why is that? Well, I have a 21-month-old running my life!

When I was pregnant with my first son, Cameron, it was amazing, exciting and the pregnancy consumed my life (in a positive way of course). My husband and I were so happy to welcome a baby into our lives. I constantly took photos of my growing belly, kept a pregnancy journal and took videos each month to document every stage. I also had the luxury of never having to experience morning sickness. I was glowing and even my delivery went pretty perfectly!

My second pregnancy: I barely have time to take photos, let alone keep a journal, and guess what, no video in sight! A part of me feels guilty, but I have a baby on my hands this time around -- life is so different once a child is in your life.  

For our second baby, we’ve decided to find out the gender, we didn’t with our first. Knowing the gender didn’t matter at all the first time, we were just excited we had a bundle on the way! This time however, I know I have to prepare. If it’s going to be another boy, I wouldn’t need to get all new clothes, he could use Cameron’s hand me downs. If it’s going to be a girl, we’ll need to tweak the room they’ll share to be more gender neutral.  Also, letting Cameron knows he has a little sister on the way seems to be making the idea of a second child in the house more real to him.

I know that there will be some challenges to having two babies so close in age. Some folks believe it’s easier to just have them close in age so they can play together and grow up together (I’m a believer in that). I’ve also heard that it’s not the best thing, because you may focus most of your attention on the second baby and forget about the older child. All I can say is that I’m very happy with the decision my husband and I made to have the second child soon after our first. After all, he is my prince and there is more than enough room in this world to love both my prince and my soon to arrive princess.

Second Pregnancy: Are Boys Easier than Girls?

When it came to my first pregnancy, I felt I was a total rock star. When the time came for baby number two, I knew I would be nothing less than perfect. I had done this before. 

I was quickly brought back to reality though, when my vicious battle with morning sickness set in. It was in that moment I began to realize, that maybe the second baby wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.

With the first time around, I only experienced about two weeks of morning sickness. I was tired, but having no children at the time, I found it super easy to take naps or go to bed early. This was a luxury I wouldn’t have my second pregnancy.

Before the big gender revealing ultrasound with my first child, we assumed my daughter was actually going to be a girl. Simply based on old wives tales and the Chinese gender prediction chart, all signs pointed to female. They claimed women where typically only sick with girls. I was craving sweets. My daughter had a high heart rate on the Doppler at all my check ups. And though I wasn’t gaining a ton of weight, my body was changing all over, not just in my stomach. When they say that a daughter steals your beauty -- in my case -- they weren’t kidding.

When I became pregnant with my second child, nothing was the same. Nothing was predictable. This pregnancy felt like a complete 180, and that was the major factor in believing that I was carrying a boy.

Though I had been slightly sick the first time, I had never experienced anything like this. I was violently ill, but thanks to a steady diet of baked potatoes and plain bagels, I was gaining weight like a sumo wrestler -- I wasn’t just hungry, I was famished.  The acne I received rivaled that of a middle-schooler and my hair and nails were growing at a rapid teen-wolf like rate. My mood swings could be qualified as lethal. And it lasted well beyond the 14th week of pregnancy. I’m happy to admit I was a mess, a hot crazy hormonal mess.

How did I get through my second pregnancy while managing a three year old? We did a lot of sedentary activities. I played a wonderful patient during doctor. We mastered 10 piece puzzles on a daily basis.  And the weekly kids movie showing at our local theater became a cherished refuge. I also had to let go of the small details and focus on the big picture. While my daughter came home to a perfect nursery, my sons room was still a work in progress at the time of his birth. Asking friends and family for help is also something I typically don’t do, but found many people eager to lighten my ever growing load.

At times, the whole experience was overwhelming. But regardless of boy or girl, first pregnancy or fifth, all you can do sit back and enjoy ride.

Six Pregnancy Super Foods

You know you have to eat well when expecting -- this helps help ensure a healthy pregnancy and gives your baby’s development a boost. But which foods pack the biggest nutritional punch? And how can you easily include them in your roster of meals, mini-meals, and snacks? Here, a handy guide to super foods and healthy eating!

Eggs Protein is crucial for your new baby’s growth during the second and third trimesters, and eggs are an easy and inexpensive way to get a good dose. Hardboiled eggs make for a fast snack, while an over-easy egg on top of rice or stir-fry veggies can give the meal a protein boost.

Beans Fiber-full, protein-rich, and low in calories -- what’s not to love about beans? Whether you choose black, pinto, navy, or chickpeas, they’ll taste great in a quesadilla or sprinkled on salads and pasta dishes.

Sweet potatoes Regular potatoes are fine, but for some added vitamins A and C (which helps you absorb iron and helps ensure healthy gums for you and your new baby) pick the dark orange variety. Bake a couple until they are soft and top with low-fat Greek yogurt and chives, or slice sweet potatoes into edges and roast them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes.

Salmon This fish delivers a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids , which can give your new baby’s developing brain a boost. Expectant new moms can enjoy 12 ounces of fish a week, so consider low- and no-mercury varieties like salmon, trout, and sardines. If cooking fresh fish doesn't appeal to you, opt for the canned varieties (try salmon salad on rye).

Nuts The healthy fats found in nuts can help foster your new baby’s brain development; walnuts, with their omega-3s , are particularly potent. Eat them whole or spread walnut butter on whole-wheat toast or slices of pear.

Low-fat dairy Calcium, protein, and vitamin D can be found in dairy aisle products, so stock up on skim milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Greek yogurt is an especially good pick because of the extra protein it offers.

Don’t be concerned if your pregnancy diet isn’t perfect all the time. Just try to work in a couple of these picks each day to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.