If you’ve been pregnant you understand just how hungry you can get. Sometimes you feel simply ravished and have to eat right now. That’s because your body wants to provide and store food for your growing baby. Finding the balance between eating enough of the right foods to feed your baby but not too much to add on unneeded pounds can be a challenge during pregnancy.
“The body is programmed to store fat for the baby to ensure its survival during a famine. Since we don’t have famines today extreme weigh gain is not necessary,” says Dr. Steve Foley, Prowers Medical Center’s new full time OBGYN physician.
He is an expert in nutrition during pregnancy and has a passion for helping women overcome polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition of insulin resistance that causes women, pregnant or not, to feel overly hungry and gain weight.
“Everyone who is pregnant is more insulin resistant than usual, so the body gets a similar message to store extra weight in the belly,” Foley says.
How much weight a woman needs to gain during pregnancy depends on where she started—whether she is underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. According to The Institute of Medicine, women who have a BMI (body mass index) of less than 18.5 (meaning just 18.5% of her total weight is fat), needs to gain between 28 and 40 pounds during her pregnancy. Numbers are slightly lower for women of normal weight (BMI of 18.5 – 24.9) at 25 to 35 pounds. It drops down quite a bit for women who are overweight (BMI of 25.0 – 29.9) and obese (BMI of 30 or above) where they need to gain 15 to 25 pounds and 11 to 20 pounds, respectively.
In order to gain just the right amount of weight, Dr. Foley recommends limiting carbohydrates, especially sugars. “Pregnant women may find they crave carbohydrates, so to quell those cravings I suggest eating plenty of protein. Pregnant women need close to 100 grams of protein a day,” he says.
He does not recommend dieting during pregnancy, rather watching what you eat and making sure it is a healthy mix of complex carbohydrates (such as brown rice, beans and lentils) vegetables and meats. He advises his patients to limit sugary treats—even fruits, avoid processed foods, and drink plenty of water rather than juice or soda.
“In general, I recommend eating foods that were once alive, like meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, and seeds,” Dr. Foley says.
Besides choosing your food wisely, he also recommends taking a good prenatal vitamin to ensure enough folic acid both while trying to get pregnant and when pregnant. Of course, avoiding all substances including cigarettes, alcohol and drugs is a must.
“It’s fine to exercise during pregnancy as long as you don’t start an exercise program during pregnancy. Exercise at the rate you were before becoming pregnant,” he concludes.
Dr. Foley is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics-Gynecology. He is accepting new patients at Prowers Medical Center Clinic. Call (719) 336-6767 for more information or for an appointment.