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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Eating for Two

If a woman's calorie intake is restricted during pregnancy, she may not get enough protein, vitamins, and minerals to adequately nourish the fetus. It can also result in a breakdown of the motherís fat stores, leading to the production of ketones in her blood and urine. Ketones are produced during times of starvation, and chronic production of ketones can result in mental retardation in the fetus.

For these reasons, the National Academy of Sciences recommends that pregnant women eat approximately 300 calories more per day than they did before becoming pregnant, and gain about 25 to 35 pounds over the entire nine months. The pattern of gain is considered more important than the actual number of pounds: weight gain should be at its lowest during the first trimester and steadily increase through the second and third. You should gain the most weight in your third trimester when the fetus is developing its protective fat stores. During pregnancy, your fat deposits increase by more than one third.

Experts estimate that if you gain 25 pounds during your pregnancy, it consists of the following:

  • Baby: 8 pounds
  • Placenta: 1 pound
  • Amniotic fluid: 1.5 pounds
  • Breasts: 3 pounds
  • Uterus: 2.5 pounds
  • Stored fat and protein, water retention, and blood volume: 8 pounds

Most women lose much of this extra weight during the birth process and in the first several weeks after birth, especially if they are breastfeeding, which burns an impressive amount of calories. Breastfeeding expends 600 to 800 calories each day. Your body needs the additional calories to synthesize lactose, protein and fat into milk and to ensure the milk is nutritious. Severely undernourished women produce less milk; however, obese women produce the same amount of milk as those of average weight. The amount of vitamins in breast milk, particularly water-soluble vitamins such as C and the B complex, is closely related to how much is consumed in the mother's diet. However, the concentrations of trace elements such as copper fluoride and fat-soluble vitamins seem to be less dependent on the fluctuations in maternal eating habits.


Protein is necessary to produce new blood cells and circulating proteins for your increased blood volume, and for the physical growth and cellular development of your baby. It is also needed to create the placenta, amniotic tissues, and maternal tissues. Pregnant women need approximately 60 grams of protein a day, or 10 grams more than non-pregnant women. This requirement can be met by eating two large eggs and 2 ounces of cheese, or a 4-ounce serving of meat. Protein is also used to produce breast milk and nourish the baby, so lactation will increase your daily requirements of protein by up to 20 grams (compared to non-lactating and non-pregnant women).

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