There are as many reasons for not gaining enough weight when you’re pregnant, as there are for gaining too much. Though not gaining much weight may seem like a blessing, the deficit could cause major problems for your baby—like prematurity and low birthweight. So, if you’re having problems gaining enough weight, try to find the reason below so you can act on it.
- You have a fast metabolism. Women who were underweight before pregnancy may simply burn calories more quickly. You may need help from a registered dietitian who can closely analyze your diet for ways to increase calories.
- You can’t eat much because of nausea, heartburn, constipation, or other physical issues. First, you need to get to the root of the problem. Tummy troubles sometimes have simple solutions. Psychosocial stress has been known to decrease weight gain. Ask your health care provider for assistance if the usual tips don’t help.
You live a fast-paced life. Some moms-to-be have very active lifestyles and don’t slow down for pregnancy. This could result in burning too many calories or not taking the time to eat. Either scenario leaves fewer calories for baby to grow on. If your lifestyle is interfering with your weight gain, you may need to look at reducing your activities or exercise and/or increasing your calories.
- Psychological factors are interfering. If you have ever had a weight problem or an eating disorder, you might find gaining weight psychologically difficult. Your overall psychosocial well-being may also have an effect on your weight status. Depression, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, and lack of social support may all affect your weight gain. Don’t hesitate to seek help from your health care provider or a therapist.
- You smoke. Smoking is associated with not gaining enough weight and also sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), fetal death, and placenta previa (an abnormal placement of the placenta that may cause complications during delivery.) Do your best to quit or cut down. See Interactive Tools (like SmokeFreeMOM) to help you quit smoking and Myths about Smoking during Pregnancy from Smoke Free Women.Gaining enough weight is critical for a #healthy baby. Find tips to help here. #pregnancy #nutrition Click To Tweet
What To Do If You Aren’t Gaining Enough Weight
- Make sure your diet is similar to the Eating Expectantly Diet (found in the book Eating Expectantly by yours truly). If you’re not familiar with the diet, it’s a whole food based, well-rounded plan to help you have the healthiest pregnancy ever!
- Slow down!
- Increase the amount of food you eat. If you are having trouble eating more, increase fat intake—the easiest way to increase calories without increasing bulk. To increase fat intake, the best foods to add are those rich in unsaturated fats, such as flaxseed, and flaxseed oil, walnut, peanut, olive oil, salad dressings, wheat germ, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, cashew, almond and peanut butter, and margarine with liquid oil as the first ingredient.
- Don’t forget the snacks. If you’re eating only three meals a day, you may not be eating enough. Most pregnant women need a few additional snacks to fit in all the nutrients and calories they need.
- Increase what I call “healthy splurges”—foods that have some nutritive value, but have extra calories too—such as milk shakes, frozen yogurt, breads made with fruits or vegetables (like banana bread or zucchini bread), sweet potato or pumpkin pie, pudding, more egg dishes, like egg custard; and foods made with nut butters.
- Other ways to add calories:
- Try a yogurt smoothie or drinkable yogurt such as Stonyfield Farm, Oikos Organic Drinkable Lowfat Yogurt or Stonyfield Farms Super Smoothie.
- Have a protein shake as a between meal snack like Odwalla Protein Drinks. They contain fruit juice, fruit and extra protein from soy or milk.
- Have a Tex-Mex Parfait: Mash some spiced pinto beans, top with guacamole and plain Greek yogurt (or low-fat sour cream) and garnish with tortilla chips. Now that’s high-calorie health food!
- Make it cheesy—whether it’s cheese and whole grain crackers or cottage cheese and fruit, low-fat cheese is a great way to boost your calcium, protein and calories.
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