You have waited your whole life for this moment. You've announced your pregnancy, and today is the day you can start eating for two! You've had your eye on the chocolate cake spinning around in that fancy case in the local diner—and nobody can say anything if you eat the whole thing, right?
Wait a minute before you dig in. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal, but do you know how much you should eat to achieve the ideal balance for you and your sweet new baby? Instead of cramming calories, consider the nutritional density of the foods you eat.
We've created this guide to help expectant mothers understand what "eating for two" looks like in practice. Your nutritional needs will change from trimester to trimester. It's possible to gain pregnancy weight in a healthy, thoughtful way that prioritizes your little one's development.
Are you getting hungry? Read on to learn all about gaining weight while pregnant.
Am I Really Eating for Two?
You might be eating for two (or three, if you're lucky enough to be carrying twins), but there's one significant detail to remember: the second person weighs under ten pounds. There's no need to double your daily calorie intake during pregnancy. Instead, you can slowly and thoughtfully increase your calorie intake over time while prioritizing nutrition.
The First Trimester
You don't need to eat any additional calories during your first trimester. Remember, your baby is smaller than a raspberry! Instead, prioritize quality nutrition, and take your prenatal vitamins as directed.
The Second Trimester
Your baby will continue developing more complex organ systems as it grows. In the second trimester, you'll need more fuel to aid in developing moving parts such as the gastrointestinal, urinary, and even the nervous system. Nutritionists recommend adding about 340 additional daily calories during this dynamic period of human development.
The Third Trimester
The magic happens in the third trimester, as your baby begins growing hair and stretching its new lungs. By now, your baby can hear and see. They need an additional 110 calories to finish cooking, bringing your daily calorie surplus up to 450.
How to Achieve a Healthy Increase in Calories
Adding 450 calories doesn't mean eating a massive dessert every night—though you deserve a treat now and then! Instead, prioritize nutrient-dense foods to the meals you're already eating. Your baby needs vitamins, minerals, and fats to grow.
Here are a few examples of nutrient-dense meals that you might include in your pregnancy diet. Notice how quickly calories add up when you prioritize the healthiest foods for your baby.
For breakfast, try some plain or flavored full-fat Greek yogurt for calcium, protein, and better nutrient absorption. Top it with whole grain pumpkin seed granola for healthy, filling carbs and protein. Add a handful of colorful berries for hydration, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
For lunch, try a grain bowl with a base of quinoa or lentils for extra folate, iron, zinc, and fiber. Add a lean protein like grilled chicken for iron. Top it with avocado for fatty acid to help your baby's brain blossom.
Enjoy some cottage cheese to ensure you get enough iodine in your diet. You can top it with your favorite fruit, such as pineapple, which contains thiamin, folate, magnesium, niacin, and iron.
Popcorn is a whole grain and also makes a yummy snack. For a sweet treat, apples and peanut butter provide a hearty boost of fiber and healthy fats.
For dinner, make a salad featuring dark greens like kale and spinach. Mix a homemade salad dressing with an olive oil base for healthy fat. Include as many healthy veggies as you can for an easy nutrition boost!
Enjoy a delicious grilled piece of salmon (or other low-mercury fish) on top or the side. Asparagus with some melted mozzarella cheese will add calcium, protein, folate, and iron.
When you're in the mood, there's no reason you can't enjoy a light dessert. Fresh fruit, fruit sorbet, or light and creamy gelato are excellent options. For a nutritional boost, try some chocolate-covered nuts. A piece of dark chocolate is the perfect finale for a full day of solid nutrition!
Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Weight gain follows a simple mathematical formula: calories in versus calories out. You will start gaining weight if you eat more calories than you need to maintain. Once you begin increasing your intake, you will see steady weight gain.
"Healthy weight gain" looks different for different expecting mothers. The recommended weight gain depends on your pre-pregnancy weight. Underweight mothers will need to gain more throughout their pregnancy than those already consuming the recommended number of calories.
It's normal to gain weight during every pregnancy. It's a sign that you're prioritizing robust nutrition and giving your sweet baby what it needs to thrive in the womb and beyond.
Your doctor is the expert on what's healthy for your specific situation. If there are concerns, they will help connect you with a nutritionist or dietician to help you create a plan. Be honest, communicate regularly, and trust that they're the expert and will let you know if you need to gain or lose more weight.
Pregnancy Tips for Healthy Weight Gain
New moms like you are in an exciting position. It's up to you to create the perfect environment for your sweet baby to grow and thrive. Allow your weight gain during pregnancy to stand as proof that you're starting motherhood off on the right foot!
Once your precious baby leaves the womb, it's astonishing how quickly they continue to grow and change. You can track your little one's growth journey with the Pixsee smart baby monitor.