The amount of weight you gain during pregnancy depends on how much you weighed before you got pregnant. The same weight gain recommendations for a woman who is at her ideal weight before pregnancy don't apply to a woman who is over- or underweight. So, if you're overweight going into a second pregnancy, you don't need to gain as much this time around. Here are some things to consider:
1. How to tell if you're at your ideal weight.
To determine whether you're at a healthy weight, it helps to know your BMI-a measurement of weight in relation to height. (To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters-or check out Health Canada's online BMI calculator. Just go to www.hc-sc.gc.ca and enter "BMI" in the search box.)
2. How much weight you should gain.
If you have a normal BMI (20 to 25), then you should gain more weight during pregnancy than if you are overweight, or have a higher BMI. So, if you have a BMI of 20 to 25, then a weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds (11 to 16 kg) is recommended. If your BMI is greater than 27, then you should only be gaining 15 to 25 pounds (7 to 11 kg).
3. With close pregnancies, you may need extra nutrients.
In terms of micronutrients, you should make sure you get an adequate supply of folic acid, iron (which can be low during pregnancy and post-partum), calcium (and therefore vitamin D). It's best to check with your doctor to see how many extra nutrients you may need.
4. Keeping your weight down.
As always, some form of exercise routine is key–whether it's walking daily, cycling or doing prenatal yoga. And the "routine" part is probably the most important. Get in the habit of being active every day.
And pay attention to your diet: decrease high fat and high salt foods, and focus on getting lots of fiber. Choose snacks like fruits and veggies and try to eat homemade foods as much as possible - that way you can control what you're getting. Remember to drink lots of water too.
Daina Kalnins is a registered dietitian at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She has co-authored several books on healthy eating and nutrition in association with the Hospital, including Better Baby Food, Better Food for Pregnancy and Better Breastfeeding.