It is clear that a nutritious, well balanced diet before and during pregnancy is the best gift a mother can give to her newborn child. A common misconception is that pregnant women should eat for two. The reality is close but not in that magnitude, pregnant women will need only an extra 300 calories a day during pregnancy to provide proper growth and development for the fetus and maintain a healthy mom. (Basically the calories on a cheese sandwich will cover this demand).

The food you eat on a daily basis affects how your body works, heals, grows and how it deals with energy in the short and long term.

Pregnancy brings a new factor and at this time your habits may also affect another person.

Lets start first with the proper weight gain during pregnancy and why it is recommended. It is not only to maintain good maternal health; excessive weight gain during pregnancy has been associated with certain problems on the fetus, like birth defects, preterm birth, injuries at birth, being obese during childhood and the increased risk of the soon to be born of developing diabetes in the future.

The usual weight gain should be based on your pre pregnancy weight. We generally establish this goal by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). If your BMI is normal, the expected weight gain during the entire pregnancy is 25-35 pounds. Women starting with overweight (if your BMI is 25-29.9) should gain 15-25 pounds, while obese moms (if your BMI is 30 or more) should only gain between 11-20 pounds. It is important to emphasize here that it is not healthy to attempt to lose weight while pregnant.

Now what should you eat? Again I will use the term “a balanced diet” which means incorporating daily servings from each of the food groups. This is usually an easy task to record, since most foods are labeled with their nutritional facts.

In terms of calories it is recommended to have 1800 during the first trimester, 2200 during the second trimester, and 2400 for the last trimester. Eat these in three meals and 3 snacks, You will need every day: 75-100 grams of Protein (fully cooked f i s h / s e a f o o d , meat, chicken or legumes), about 1000 mg of Calcium (dairy, eggs, tofu, white beans, almonds), 27 milligrams of Iron (green leafy veggies, whole grains, lean protein), 800 micrograms of Folic Acid (green leafy veggies, fruits, whole grain, legumes), and at least 85 milligrams of Vitamin C (fruits or veggies).To help you achieve your weight goal, besides maintaining a healthy diet, it is important and effective to incorporate an exercise routine of at least 150 minutes a week (swimming, walking, riding stationary bike, aerobic classes) and avoid caffeine and alcohol.