Raj K. Syal, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.    |    Jenna A. Everson, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.    |    Holly Westmoreland, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.   

Does being pregnant give me the green light to eat anything I want?

We hear this question a lot in our office and the simple answer is “no.” While you may find that you have an increased appetite during pregnancy, you will need to stick with healthy, nutritious foods to feed the growing baby inside you. Believe it or not, you can enjoy satiety (the sense of feeling full) by eating healthy raw fruits and vegetables and lean meats and proteins.

How much weight does the average woman gain during pregnancy?

We recommend that women gain between 15 and 25 pounds during pregnancy. If you were significantly overweight or underweight prior to pregnancy, we will modify this recommendation and discuss specific guidelines for your specific situation.

In the first three months of pregnancy, you will likely gain 3-4 pounds. We then expect that you will gain an average of 2-3 pounds each month through about 36 weeks, and then a pound a week between weeks 37 and 40. The weight gain you are experiencing is not all fat; it occurs due to water retention, the weight of the placenta, amniotic fluid, umbilical cord, your growing uterus and from the baby itself. Gaining an appropriate amount of weight is an important part of a healthy pregnancy, but remember:  You do not need to eat for two.

Enjoy small amounts of tempting foods and balance the rest of your diet around the recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Ask your doctor for details.

How is Weight Gain Accounted for During Pregnancy?

  • Baby: 7-8 pounds (average)
  • Placenta: 2-3 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid: 1-3 pounds
  • Breast tissue: 1-3 pounds
  • Blood supply: 2.5-4 pounds
  • Larger uterus: 1.5-4 pounds
  • Total: 15-25 pounds

Should I change my diet during my pregnancy?

It is important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that incorporates all of the food groups. In addition, you will be taking a prenatal vitamin to help supplement any deficiencies that may occur in your daily diet. There are several things that you should eliminate or reduce during pregnancy, which we will address here.

Alcohol

There is no determined “safe amount” of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. The amount of alcohol consumption it takes to cause fetal alcohol syndrome has not been determined; therefore, we strongly recommend that you abstain from all alcohol consumption during your pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome can present with conditions ranging from mild to severe and include speech and language delays, learning disabilities, small head size, abnormal facial features and many other problems. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to severe birth defects, including mental retardation and improper development of vital organs. Give your baby a fighting chance by abstaining from alcohol altogether during pregnancy.

Caffeine

You should limit your caffeine consumption to approximately one serving per day. This means one cup of coffee, or one cup of tea daily … not both.

Fish

Because of mercury contamination in certain fish that may harm a baby’s brain or nervous system, you must avoid king mackerel, swordfish, shark, and tile fish during your pregnancy. You can safely eat up to 12 ounces of other fish per week, such as tuna, shellfish, canned fish, smaller ocean fish, or farm-raised fish. We recommend that you avoid sushi or raw/rare fish during your pregnancy.

Meats

You should avoid raw or under-cooked meat and poultry to prevent listeriosis, which is an illness caused by bacteria in certain foods. In women, it often causes no symptoms or mild flu-like symptoms, but it can cause serious problems to a developing fetus, including miscarriage or stillbirth.

To prevent listeriosis from consumption of under-cooked meat products, check that all the meat you plan to consume is thoroughly cooked and avoid prepacked meats such as hot dogs or deli meats, unless they are reheated and are presented to you as steaming hot. As always, take care when preparing foods and handling raw meats, fruits and vegetables.

Cheeses

Avoid soft cheeses like Brie, blue cheese, or feta cheese and do not consume any unpasturized cheeses during pregnancy. Soft or unpasturized cheeses can cause listeriosis. Pasteurized or hard cheeses are fine to eat.

Fruits and Vegetables

To prevent listeriosis bacteria contamination, make sure you hand wash and shake (or spin-dry) all fruits and vegetables in warm water before consumption.  Never place raw fruits or vegetables on the same surfaces where raw meats have been, so that you avoid cross-contamination.

Do I need extra vitamins?

We will likely prescribe a prenatal vitamin that will help increase the metabolism of folic acid, iron, and other vitamins, which will help provide the best nutrition available to your growing baby. This may be all that you need; however, there may be instances where we recommend taking a DHA supplement during your pregnancy. We will discuss your individual needs during your prenatal visits. Please do not take any vitamins or supplements without speaking to us first.

We look forward to seeing you in our office soon!