Do Women Need to Eat for Two During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, women are often advised to eat for two. But what does that mean when one of the two is smaller than an eggplant? Do pregnant women really need to eat for two?

Weight Gain in Pregnancy

Recommendations for weight gain in pregnancy have changed through the years. In the 1960s, women were routinely advised to gain about 15 lbs. Fifty years later, health care providers individualize their recommendations depending on your particular situation, specifically your Body Mass Index (BMI). Body Mass Index is a calculation based on your height to weight ratio. If you have a normal BMI, you should try to gain 25-35 lbs during your pregnancy. If your BMI is underweight, you should gain 28-40 lbs. If you begin your pregnancy at a BMI classification of overweight or obese, you are advised to gain only 15-25 lbs. These are guidelines only, however, and weight gain is only one way to see how your pregnancy is progressing. If you are a healthy active woman with access to quality nutrition, you will generally gain what you need to gain to grow a healthy baby.

You may lose weight in the first trimester, as do many other women, due to nausea and vomiting. You will probably notice the scale start to go up in the second trimester. Some women gain weight in a steady pattern over the course of the pregnancy. Other women plateau for a few weeks and then seem to gain 5 lbs. overnight.

Where Does the Weight Go?

When your weight increases in pregnancy, only about 5 to 7 lbs. of your weight gain is body fat. Breasts account for a weight gain of 2 lbs. in preparation for breastfeeding. Your blood and fluid volume increases at a rate of about 7 lbs. If your baby is born close to the due date, he or she generally weighs between 6 and 9 lbs.  Amniotic fluid close to the due date accounts for about 2 lbs. of weight gain. Your placenta typically weighs between 1 and 2 lbs.

Nutrition in Pregnancy

The food you eat while pregnant becomes the building blocks for your growing baby. Here are the recommended daily servings for pregnant women:

  • 6 servings of whole grains
  • 2-3 cups of vegetables
  • 1.5-2 cups of fruit
  • 3 dairy servings
  • 5 oz. of protein

You should take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid each day. In addition, you should consider including food or supplement sources that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help develop your baby’s eyes and brain. They may also reduce the risk of certain pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia and preterm labor. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in walnuts, dark green vegetables, flax seeds and fatty fish, such as salmon. You should limit your consumption of seafood to 12 oz. a week and avoid fish that are high in mercury, such a shark. Tuna should be limited to 6 oz. a week.

Eating for Three or Four

If you are pregnant with twins or triplets, you must be meticulous about planning and eating enough calories and nutrients.  If you are expecting twins, try to gain 35-45 lbs. If you are pregnant with triplets, try to gain 50-60 lbs. You should consider working with a dietitian to make sure that you are getting the right types and amounts of food.



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