Honest Nutrition

My pregnancy so far, weight gain & diet. A dietitian's view

PregnancyAnna DanielsComment

Today I am 26 weeks pregnant and feeling good.

The truth is, the journey hasn't been easy. Like many women, I suffered with 'pregnancy sickness', also referred to as morning sickness, yet for me and others it has no correlation with the morning at all. During the 1st trimester, approximately 70% of women experience nausea and vomiting and what I experienced was constant day and night sickness. The reasons for nausea are due to higher hormone levels especially human chorionic gonadotrophin. I had felt better after a heavy night of drinking than I did between the weeks of 8-17, until one day thankfully, it stopped completely!

It was during this time that I had to eat frequent small meals, only when my stomach was full did I feel semi normal. There is some evidence to support ginger supplements may help reduce nausea and ginger tea can provide some relief, for me ginger ale helped a little, although I did opt for the non sugar version. It was also during this first trimester that I craved carbohydrates, so toast and crackers were a good option. It is advised that high carbohydrate foods and low fat foods are also best tolerated during this trimester and that hot foods can provoke nausea due to the stronger smells, yet every woman is different. Certain foods that I normally loved I could no longer stand and foods that I never cared for quickly became my favourites.

Pickles, my new favourite food

Pickles, my new favourite food

Now I am well into my 2nd trimester and feeling good again, I am visiting the gym frequently, running and doing resistant workouts along with Yoga and Pilates. I am aware that I am in the good phase before I start to get big and uncomfortable, however, apart from an extreme satsuma craving, my regular eating habits have returned and I feel myself again. 

What I am now getting to grips with, is the scales. What I found difficult to comprehend is that the 'average' weight gain in pregnancy is approximately 10-12.5kg, or between 25-35lbs. To date my total weight gain is 11kg (24lbs) and I still have 3 months to go, which is when it is expected women gain the most weight. Unfortunately, I had really started to fret about my weight, it was bothering me that I was gaining too fast and I was worried about it. 

That was until last week when I had an epiphany, I realised that what I was doing is the EXACT opposite to how I would advise a client. Firstly, I would not recommend anyone weigh themselves daily, which is what I was doing. Instead, check your weight weekly, if you decide to check it at all. Don't obsess that the scale is rising, rest assured your baby is growing, along with your increased blood supply, amniotic fluid, uterus, placenta and breasts - which can significantly increase in size and weight! Also your body is laying down fat stores (an average of 2-2.4kg of adipose tissue) as an energy reserve which you will require if you decide to breast feed. So as long as you are not over eating and keeping active, you have nothing to worry about. Let's face it, this is time to focus on nurturing the growth of a human being and not a time to worry weight gain.

22 weeks pregnant and growing

22 weeks pregnant and growing

There is also evidence that poor maternal nutrition can lead to a low birth weight baby and that foetal birth weight plays a role in determining the risk of some dietary related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, therefore eating and drinking well has never been more important. The choices that you make now can go on to affect the future health of your child, so look after yourself! Although, being pregnant is not a meal ticket for two, you must ensure to eat frequent nutrient rich foods and keep hydrated, so that your baby is growing in the best environment possible and receiving adequate nutrients. 

The current nutritional guidelines recommend that during pregnancy the average energy requirements will increase by 200 calories and this is only during the final 3rd trimester. However, like the 'average' weight gain, do not obsess over this, everyone is different. I felt hungrier in my first trimester than I have been since, however the nausea probably affected this rather than my actual requirements increasing.

Yet, if you do feel that you are over eating and your eating habits have changed significantly, i.e you constantly crave brownies, or burgers and chips, try to address this. There are things you can do to halt the craving, for example, if you need to eat ice cream, ask yourself 'do you'? Or will some ice cold milk or a low fat yoghurt satisfy you instead. With a sugar craving, do you really need that cookie? Yes, very occasionally every pregnant woman may well need one! But not repeatedly. Would a banana do the trick to curb that craving? Try it, you may be surprised what works. Bananas are actually the perfect late night snack and right now are my snack of choice, they contain potassium and magnesium which can help the body relax and promote sleep, something that most pregnant woman can struggle with. 

As it is inevitable you will put on weight during pregnancy and if you, like me, were worried it may end up being more than 'average', you want to ensure you are doing all of the right things you can so that when you have the baby it will be easier to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.

So to any pregnant woman reading this who may have concerns, I hope that sharing my experience of diet and weight gain has helped a little in assisting you not to worry about yours. Once you are through the nausea in the first trimester, the 'worst trimester'; eat healthily, stay hydrated and above all else enjoy growing that bump! 

Please post comments and feel free to email me with any questions you may have. Anna xx

Every pregnant woman deserves a treat, so when you can no longer reach your toes invest in a pedicure!

Every pregnant woman deserves a treat, so when you can no longer reach your toes invest in a pedicure!