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How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?

The optimal weight gain is 20 to 40 pounds. If a woman does not gain at least 20 pounds during pregnancy, she is at increased risk for having a small baby, which increases risks of birth defects and even death. However, if you gain too much weight, you are at increased risk for complications during and after childbirth.

What you eat is even more important than the amount of weight you gain. You should eat plenty of whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Limit refined carbohydrates (foods made from white flour, white rice or milled corn), restrict added fats, and avoid partially hydrogenated fats. Both mother and child need essential fatty acids that are classified into omega-3s and omega-6s. Pregnancy uses up fatty acids, particularly omega-3s. Several recent studies show that post-partum depression may be caused by low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are found in all seeds, including nuts, beans and whole grains, but not in refined flour used for most bakery products and pastas. Partially hydrogenated fats deplete the body of omega-3 fatty acids and should be avoided. Pregnancy also depletes folic acid, and a deficiency can cause birth defects. Folic acid is found in leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans. Folic acid supplements are recommended for most pregnant women.

Checked December 10, 2005

May 10th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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