Eating Patterns and Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Because energy needs increase less than nutrient needs, the pregnant woman must select foods of high nutrient density. Individual food cravings during pregnancy do not seem to reflect real physiological needs, but may in general reflect a nutrient poor diet. Food aversions and cravings may arise due to changes in taste and smell sensitivities.
The weight gained during pregnancy is nearly all lean tissue, placenta, uterus, blood, milk glands and of course the foetus. Some of this gained weight is lost at delivery and the remainder is generally lost within a few weeks or months, as blood volume returns to normal and accumulated fluids are lost.
Weight gain during pregnancy is directly related to infant birthweight and a woman who does not gain the expected amount of weight may give birth to an underweight infant who may be malnourished and prone to illness.
Exercise is also important during pregnancy, adjusting the duration and intensity as required.
Energy restriction (severe “dieting”) during pregnancy is dangerous for all women, regardless of their pre-pregnancy weight. The pregnant overweight woman must therefore take special care to select foods that will promote optimal foetal growth and gradual maternal weight gain with an ideal total weight gain during the pregnancy of around 11 kilograms.