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Pregnancy Weight Gain | What’s Just Right?

Hungry all the time? Craving ice-cream, ice-cream, and…ice-cream? Here’s how to avoid scale shock at your next prenatal visit.

Know the numbers. "Gaining too much weight isn’t good for you or your baby," says Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and author of Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for your Pregnancy. "It increases the potential for gestational diabetes and complications during delivery because the baby gets too big." Research shows that gaining more pregnancy weight than necessary also increases your baby’s chances of being overweight in life.The current recommended guidelines for weight gain: 25 to 35 pounds if you’re around your ideal weight at the start of pregnancy; 28 to 40 pounds if you’re underweight; and 15 to 25 pounds if you’re overweight. In general, pregnant women should take in about 300 more calories a day than usual. Talk it over with your doctor.

Eat more often. "I was so hungry," says Sara A. Bloom, a mom of two in Houston. "But instead of eating three big meals, I did five smaller ones. This kept my hunger in check so I didn’t completely stuff myself."

Avoid that "It’s for the baby!" excuse. Craving a milkshake? Your baby must "need" the calcium, right? Nuh-uh. Experts say cravings have little to do with your growing baby’s nutritional needs. Think about it: Ever had an overwhelming urge for spinach? Exactly. Becca Keaty, a mom of two boys in Chicago, couldn’t understand why she kept craving meat during her last pregnancy. "My doctor said, ‘You could just be craving steak because it’s delicious.’ It was a good point!" She indulged but kept her inner carnivore in check so she wouldn’t pack on too many pounds.

Enjoy some sweets! Again, just don’t OD, and include the good-for-you kind, too. "I tried to keep healthy options around—little dark chocolate pieces, vanilla yogurt, and granola bars," says Bloom.

Find an exercise buddy. Pick a pregnant friend or a willing partner. Dr. Brown enlisted her husband as her personal trainer during her two pregnancies. "We started swimming laps after work," says Dr. Brown. "I never would have been that consistent if it weren’t for him." Don’t fear exercise while pregnant—it will control weight gain, keep up your energy, and prepare you for delivery. Just talk to your doctor first.

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