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Weight and Diet

Frequently Asked Weight and Diet Questions

IMPORTANT: DO NOT TRY TO LOSE WEIGHT WHILE YOU ARE PREGNANT

How much weight should I gain during my pregnancy?

The best amount to gain depends on how much you weighed right before you became pregnant. The doctor or staff will let you know if this weight is thought to be overweight, normal or underweight. For a single pregnancy:

  • If you are overweight, the best amount to gain is 15 or so pounds
  • If you are normal, the best amount to gain is between 25 and 35 pounds
  • If you are underweight, the best amount to gain is between 27 and 40 pounds
  • Twins, triplets or more will have different weight gains recommended
What problems can be caused by not gaining enough weight?
There is a slightly higher chance of your baby being smaller than normal. This might lead to being delivered before the due date. Small babies, if born premature or at the due date, can still have serious problems after birth. To help lower the chances of having a small baby, try to gain the amount of weight recommended by your physician.
What problems can be caused by gaining too much weight?
The extra pounds will put more strain on your back and legs. Also being overweight can lead to serious medical problems for you, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The extra weight may stay with you after you deliver your baby. Breast-feeding may help you lose the extra pounds, but this is not true for everyone. Even if you are overweight, do not try to lose weight while you are pregnant.
What is a good diet to follow during my pregnancy?

Your body needs a good balance of foods to keep you healthy and build a healthy baby. Try to eat regularly and not skip meals. Important parts of your daily diet should include:

  • Protein at each meal from meat, chicken, fish (1-2 times a week), eggs, beans, milk, or cheese
  • Calcium, Vitamins A and D from a few glasses of milk each day (low fat is best)
  • B Vitamins from whole-wheat cereals, breads or noodles
  • Vitamin C from the fruit or juice of oranges or grapefruits

Other healthy foods to add to your diet are fresh fruits and vegetables. Butter, margarine or vegetable oils should only be used in small amounts, as these are empty calories. Try to avoid “junk food” (candy, sodas, and desserts). These are very high in calories and filling but have few nutrients or vitamins.

To keep from becoming constipated, try eating high fiber foods like bran, bran cereals, and breads, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, including salads.

Are there any foods I should try not to eat?
Some fish may have high levels of mercury that possibly can cause problems with brain growth in your baby. These problems include speech delays and difficulties with motor coordination. Although it is not certain that this is a real danger, pregnant and nursing mothers might consider trying not to eat: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Tuna might be limited to 1 can or portion per week. (If you weigh less than 135 pounds, eat less than this amount.) If you have already been eating these fish while you have been pregnant, don’t worry. It generally takes eating regular amounts over a long period of time to cause problems. Just stop eating these for the rest of the pregnancy and while you are nursing. Other fish have valuable oils that may be very good for the baby’s brain development. Always make sure the fish is thoroughly cooked; no raw sushi.
“In the United States, efforts have been aimed at the prevention of listeriosis, including reducing listeria contamination of ready to eat foods, such as processed meats; proper food preparation and storage; and general food safety, hydration, and sanitation, with information on safe practices found at www.cdc.gov/listeria/prevention.html” (1)
According to ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), it is advised women use caution when eating the following foods:
“Hot dogs, lunch meats, cold cuts (when served chilled or at room temperature).
Refrigerated pate and meat spreads.
Refrigerated smoked seafood.
Raw (unpasteurized milk)
Unpasteurized soft cheeses such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, Brie, queso panela, Camembert and bleu.
Unwashed raw produce such as fruits and vegetables (when eating raw fruits and vegetables, skin should be washed thoroughly in running tap water, even if it will be peeled or cut.” (1)
What about taking vitamins and iron pills?

If you eat a proper diet, the only extra things you may need are iron and multivitamins with folic acid. Later in your pregnancy we may suggest you take an iron pill up to 3 times each day. Taking more vitamins and supplements that you buy over the counter may hurt your developing baby. Please talk to us before taking other vitamins or medications.

If you eat adequate amounts of food with iron in it, you may not need to take iron pills. These foods include: fish, meat (mainly organ meats like liver), bread or cereals with added iron, green leafy vegetables (like spinach), eggs, peanut butter, dried fruit (like raisins and prunes).

Too much of some types of vitamin A can cause damage to your baby’s brain and nervous system. Natural vitamin A, called beta-carotene, appears safe. Below is a list of the types of foods containing vitamin A that are safe and the kind you need to watch for carefully. You should follow these recommendations during this pregnancy and later when you are trying to get pregnant again.

Types of Vitamin A that can be dangerous in large amounts:

  • Liver can have large amounts of vitamin A. If you like it, limit it to once or twice a week
  • Vitamin tablets and foods with added vitamins, such as cereals
  • Package labels may list this preformed vitamin A as compounds such as retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate
  • Including the vitamin A that your doctor tells you to take in your prenatal vitamin, you should not have over 8,000 IU of this type of vitamin A per day

References 1: (December 2014). Committee Opinion on Management of Pregnant Women with Presumptive Exposure to Listeria Monocytogenes. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 124 (06), pp 1241-1244
Copyright: 1993,1996,1998,2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 Advanced Medical Systems
Updated IV, 17,

Safe Beta-Carotene

Orange & Yellow Vegetables Orange & Yellow Fruits Green Vegetables
Carrots Cantaloupe Greens from Collards, Mustard
Sweet Potatoes Apricots Parsley
Squash Peaches Lettuce

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