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How many extra calories do you really need?

Before you order the extra helping of dessert, check out these basics on how many extra calories per day are a good idea for your pregnancy.
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The amount of weight you should gain during your pregnancy should be discussed with your OB/GYN, based on your individual health. But, if you're looking for the recommended weight gain during pregnancy, the following guidelines (based on pre-pregnancy weight) are generally accepted:

  • Underweight: 28 to 40 pounds
  • Normal weight: 25 to 35 pounds
  • Overweight: 15 to 25 pounds
  • Obese: 11 to 20 pounds

Gain too much weight, and you increase your risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Gain too little weight and your baby may be born too small or too early. "The general rule of thumb: Proper pregnancy weight gain is based on the weight you start off with," advises Baltimore OB/GYN Dr. Saul Weinreb, MD, Senior Medical Advisor of askmyobgyn.com and expert for JustAnswer.com. "A pregnant woman who starts off with less weight should gain more, and someone weighing more should gain less."

For the health of your pea in the pod, the key is to pack in the right kind of calories, in the right quantities, when it will count the most.

First trimester

Dr. Weinreb advises his patients to expect to only gain a few pounds during the first three months. "During the first trimester, you should gain a negligible amount of weight, about 5-10 percent of your total weight gain for the entire pregnancy. Some even lose weight because of vomiting and nausea." Experts recommend an average of an additional 150-200 calories per day during this time when baby's on board.

Second and third trimesters

You can rack up 300 extra calories per day, if you're under or average weight, during the last two-thirds of your pregnancy. "The second trimester is when weight gain really begins, totaling about 30% of overall weight gain," says Dr. Weinreb. "During the third trimester, a total of 50 percent plus of weight gain should occur."

Adding up the numbers

Try not to get caught up in the weight you're adding to your stature. Remember that it's not all fat you are gaining; the extra calories are helping fuel the baby factory you're running inside your belly. Before you climb on the scale, it may help to understand where the extra calories are going:

  • Baby: 7 to 8 pounds
  • Larger breasts: 1 to 3 pounds
  • Larger uterus: 2 pounds
  • Placenta: 1/3 of the weight of your baby, give or take
  • Amniotic fluid and increased blood volume: 10 to 20 pounds depending on the person
  • Fat stores: 6 to 8 pounds

You may be concerned with shedding weight once your bundle of joy makes her grand entrance into the world, but dieting during pregnancy is a no-no.

"You may not be able to do anything about fluid retention, but fat storage can be controlled by healthy eating habits," notes Dr. Weinreb.

Instead, fill your growing belly with healthy choices, adding the recommended extra calories to your day with good-for-you food. And, it's okay to reach for a sweet treat once in a while...you've earned it!

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  • Rated 0 out of 5 by 23reviewers.
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I am not a person who cares about calories and all the other food junk. I eat whatever I want to. I get full easy so I am not over eating. September 21, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I have been talking to my LO since he was born too.At 3 months he responded with just a smile.Now at 4 months he responds with a smile, a coo, a giggle, a body dance, AND reaches for my face.I must say talking to your LO everyday does make a difference, I believe it will have your child on the fast track to learning language. August 20, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by Eating a variety of foods and not letting too much time between meals seems to help me gain appropriate weight and feel my best. February 22, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by My doctor suggested gaining 1 lb a week after my20 th week! January 10, 2013
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