Diet and Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Diet and Weight Gain During Pregnancy

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A good approach is to eat to satisfy your appetite and continue to monitor your weight.

Try to eat:

  • Lots of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals.
  • Moderate amounts of low fat dairy foods and lean meats.
  • Small amounts of foods high in fat, sugar and salt.
  • Lean meat, chicken and fish.
  • Dried beans and lentils.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Green leafy vegetables.

The basics:

  • 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables
  • 3 servings of grains/cereals
  • 3 servings of dairy
  • 3 servings of meat, eggs, beans, peas or nuts.

Quick food safety checklist

  • Ensure all meats, poultry and fish are thoroughly cooked.
  • Ensure meat is thoroughly defrosted prior to cooking. Do not allow raw meat or eggs to come into contact with other foods.
  • Eat only pasteurized dairy products.
  • Avoid pre-packed salad, pre-cut fruits and pre-cooked chicken.
  • Avoid raw seafood and smoked fish.
  • Avoid soft cheese (such as brie and camembert) and processed deli-meats.
  • Caffeine in coffee, chocolate and tea and Tannin in tea affect iron absorption. The recommendation is to avoid caffeine if possible, but if you can’t get by without that morning cup of coffee, then limit intake to one cup per day. Most herbal teas do not contain tannin but check packaging to be sure.

Weight gain

Being pregnant means you will gain weight. However, how much weight you gain is very individual.

In recent years, research could not find any substantial benefits for either the woman or her baby through monitoring weight gain. Frequent weighing seems to create anxiety about not putting on enough or putting on too much weight.

It is fairly common for caregivers to ask you to weigh yourself as part of your first pregnancy visit. This is aimed at:

  • Having a baseline weight in case the doctor needs to prescribe drug dosages calculated on your average weight.
  • Determine your Body Mass Index (BMI). Being underweight or overweight has increase risks during pregnancy

Whatever your weight was before your pregnancy and regardless of how much weight you are (or are not) putting on, it is important to have a well-balanced diet. Pregnancy is not an appropriate time to diet, nor is it an excuse to eat for two.

If you have a special diet, or any health conditions that require diet modification (such as diabetes), you should consult with a dietician about planning your weekly meals.

Recommended weight gain during pregnancy

These are usually along the lines of ‘putting on 2- 3 kg in the first 20 weeks, then ½ a kilo per week until the baby is due, averaging 12-14 kg in total.

While this may be true for some in women, in practise this is rarely the case.

Many women will put on most of their pregnancy weight gain during the first 20 weeks, or only gain a few kilograms up until 12 to 16 weeks of the pregnancy, then experience a large ‘growth spurt’ during the middle of their pregnancy up until about 32 weeks, slowing down their weight gain over the next 4 to 6 weeks and then losing 1 to 2 kg just prior to going into labour.

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