How much weight should you gain when you’re pregnant?

Getting over the baby bump is tough, but for some new mothers it’s even tougher. Gaining weight during pregnancy is necessary for the growing baby, but sometimes women eat so much it’s dangerous. So dangerous they may develop gestational diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.

The American Pregnancy Association recommends gaining weight at a steady rate because a baby requires a daily supply of nutrients. Most women gain about three to five pounds in the first trimester and about a pound a week in the second and third trimesters.

A woman at a healthy weight before pregnancy should gain 25 to 35 pounds, 25 to 40 pounds if she was underweight before pregnancy and 15 to 25 pounds if she was overweight before pregnancy.

Cathy Gray, a nurse and the perinatal network administrator at the University of Chicago, says that gaining an excessive amount of weight leads to chronic health problems.

“It may be a sign of other underlying conditions,” she says. “She’s putting herself at a higher risk of a diabetic state.”

Gray suggests healthy pregnant women walk, ride their bikes and do light aerobics to keep unnecessary extra pounds off. Cutting out junk food is important, too. She also recommends women take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.

Eating healthy during pregnancy includes a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Most experts say moms-to-be should eat about 300 more calories a day. The goal is to achieve a healthy balance-not too underweight or overweight.

Keep your eye on your weight gain, but don’t worry too much because once you’ve given birth, the extra pounds will eventually come off, especially if you breastfeed.

“During pregnancy, mom has a higher fluid volume circulating in her veins and arteries,” Gray says.

For more information on how to achieve your healthiest weight during pregnancy, visit your doctor and the American Pregnancy Association at www.americanpregnancy.org.

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