Start thinking about healthy eating and your weight well before you decide to have a baby. A healthy weight and eating well makes it easier for you to conceive and sets you up for good eating habits during your pregnancy.
The tips and tricks below show you how to consume the ideal amount of food in pregnancy to keep you and your baby healthy.
Watch the video (3:08) to get started.
1. Know Your BMI:
The amount of weight you should gain during your pregnancy depends on your Body Mass Index (BMI) so a good first step is to work out your BMI. Try a tool on the web, for example:
2. Work out your healthy weight gain based on BMI:
Once you know your BMI, check this table from the Alberta Health Services’ Healthy Parents Healthy Children site to learn how much weight you should gain in pregnancy.
The ideal weight gain ranges from 28 to 40 pounds for a woman with a low BMI, through to 11 to 20 pounds if you have a BMI of 30 or more.
Although pregnancy is not a good time to start a fad diet, if you are overweight when you conceive and then adopt healthier eating habits, you may find you actually lose weight. You and your baby may still be getting the nourishment you need, just check in with your family doctor.
3. Eat well:
Eating well is more important than ever when you are providing nourishment for yourself and your baby in pregnancy.
Calgary Foothills PCN health professionals — a dietitian, a family doctor and a registered nurse from our maternity clinic — have compiled a number of pregnancy and nutrition videos to help you learn to eat well and stay healthy during pregnancy. See the list below.
4. Learn to manage food cravings:
Food cravings can make all the good intentions in the world hard to follow. So how can you keep food cravings in check?
- Record the time: Take note of the time cravings hit each day to see if there is a pattern. Do they normally surface mid-afternoon? Just before bed? Record the time and have a healthy snack on hand to eat half an hour beforehand.
Some healthy snack ideas include fruit, vegetable pieces, low-fat dairy products including yogurt, or cheese and a quarter of a cup of nuts.
- Be mindful of the reasons you eat: Is physical or emotional hunger driving you? Are you eating at the same time every day out of habit? Or do you want the taste of a certain food in your mouth at a certain time?
Calgary Foothills PCN offers Craving Change™, a series of workshops led by local health professionals, which help you change your thinking habits to change your eating habits. Find out more about these four-part Craving Change™ workshops or click to register. Read a story about craving change, do a quiz or read patient success stories.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking two to three litres of fluid, preferably water, each day helps you stay hydrated and keep food cravings at bay. That is quite a lot of liquid so consider carrying a large bottle of water with you to stay on track.
5. Stay Active!
Remaining physically active during your pregnancy is key to gaining the appropriate amount of weight. We suggest you try activities such as walking for half an hour a day, swimming or prenatal yoga. Or look for an activity you enjoy and check whether it is safe to do during pregnancy.
So why is the right weight so important for the health of you and your baby during pregnancy?
Women who do not carry enough weight tend to have:
- Babies who are born early.
- Babies who are born small for their age or have a low birth weight.
Women who gain too much weight tend to have:
- Greater risk of high blood sugar (or gestational diabetes) and high blood pressure.
- More difficulty giving birth — potential damage to the birth canal and increased risk of cesarean.
- Babies who have a high birth weight are more likely to experience low blood sugar, respiratory distress and jaundice, and face weight issues and obesity later in childhood.
Calgary Foothills PCN health professionals — a dietitian, a family doctor and a registered nurse from our maternity clinic — have produced a series of pregnancy and nutrition videos to help you eat well and stay healthy during pregnancy.
See these videos and blogs:
Pregnancy and nutrition:
- Tips on how much to eat in each trimester of your pregnancy: video and blog
- 6 Tips for eating a healthy lunch and dinner in pregnancy: video and blog
- How to get enough calcium in pregnancy, and food safety: video and blog
- 6 Tips to increase your iron intake in pregnancy: video and blog
The Riley Park Maternity Clinic offers care to low-risk patients based in Calgary and Cochrane during their pregnancy. The family doctors who provide care at the clinic specialize in obstetrics. Patients deliver at the Foothills Medical Centre. Find out more.
To see more pregnancy and birth-related resources, search “pregnancy” in the Resources section of our website.