How to Gain Weight the Healthy Way When You're Pregnant, According to Moms

pregnant woman walking
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The moment you announce you're pregnant, people start giving you food to eat and a chair to sit in. But capping weight gain at 35 pounds (25 if you start out overweight) is best for you and your child. Need inspiration on how to keep your pregnancy diet in check? Read these stories from real moms who've been there.

Live and Learn

"It took me a year to lose the 53 pounds I gained in my first pregnancy. This time, I decided to control my weight before the baby was born. I snack on fruit, veggies, and protein bars, and I don't drink soda. I hope to gain only 27 pounds."

Marie Dutton, Nashville, TN; Mother of Jared, 4, and Jenna, 1


Chat 'n' Chew

"I found an online support group for women who want to exercise and eat right while pregnant. It's motivating to know that others still work out. We post what we eat, good or bad, every day. It keeps us accountable and reminds me that not everyone eats junk food during pregnancy."

Asheley Bonney, Downington, PA; Mother of Lia Rose, 1


Keep Count

"To get my extra 300 daily calories in a healthy way, I add 150 calories to each of my two daily snacks. One ounce of cheese (100 calories), a scoop of all-natural peanut butter (a rounded tablespoon is 150 calories), veggies or a few pieces of fruit, and I'm good."

Blair Allen, Powder Springs, GA; Mother of Jordan, 4, Brayden, 2, and Jay, 9 months

Mike Jensen
Mike Jensen

Go Nuts

"Nuts are a great source of heart-healthy fat, but the calories add up quickly. Pistachios are the 'skinny' nut, and they're packed with folic acid. You can have 30 for just 100 calories. Plus, shelling the pistachios makes them a mindful snack. You eat more slowly, and that pile of shells is a reminder of just how much you have eaten."

Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D., coauthor of The Secret to Skinny; Mother of twins Summer and Riley, 3 1/2

Be Pro-Protein

"When you sense that yawning, hollow feeling in your stomach, sprinkle Parmesan on your salads, vegetables, or popcorn. Put cottage cheese in your salad. Grab a cheese stick. Protein helps you feel full faster."

Mairi Breen Rothman, certified nurse midwife with the American College of Nurse-Midwives; Mother of four children

Burn It Off

"I tend to eat a pretty healthy diet, but while I was pregnant, I ate whatever I wanted. That included French fries and chocolate on occasion. But I almost always made sure to exercise it off." (Burning the 200 calories in those snacks would require 45 minutes of water aerobics or 50 minutes on a treadmill, walking at 3 mph, says New York City trainer Tammy Lakatos Shames.)

Allison Saltzer, Denver, CO; Mother of Skyler, 3, and Brody, 2

Lisa Stokes/Getty Images
Lisa Stokes/Getty Images

Know Your Numbers

"I weighed myself daily to stay on target. I didn't want to suffer shock at the doctor's! I was aware of my weight without being obsessed."

Emily Hill, Sandy, UT; Mother of Madison, 12, Lauren, 9, George, 4, and Olivia, 2


Keep Moving

"If you were a runner before you were pregnant, it's okay to still run. In fact, during my first pregnancy, I ran until I was 32 weeks along. However, jogging can be pretty darn uncomfortable because you have all this pressure on your bladder and you have to pee all the time. Remember that you can get the same benefits from walking briskly as from running slowly. My advice is just to do what feels comfortable to you."

Yvonne Bohn, M.D., OB-gyn featured on Deliver Me on Discovery Health; Mother of Ryan, 6, and Kyle, 14 months


Rethink Things

"I had to adapt to different types of exercise. At 24 weeks my physician suggested I switch from running to using an elliptical machine to reduce knee stress, help with balance issues, and keep me from overheating. At 32 weeks, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia but was still able to continue with yoga and walking. Being flexible about the exercise I did helped me continue to work out throughout my entire pregnancy."

Amanda Woodhead, Nashville, TN; Mother of Shelby, 4

Anna Kobycheva/Shutterstock
Anna Kobycheva/Shutterstock

Play Mental Games

"Early in your pregnancy, develop a vivid mental picture of your healthy pregnant body at nine months. If you keep this image in mind, you'll be far less likely to eat enough for three people. You will not want to ruin that healthy body. This visual image motivates your subconscious, helping you make good decisions."

Kelly Stallings, weight management psychotherapist, Pearland, TX; Mother of Bud, 16, Max, 12, and Kit, 5

4 PM production/Shutterstock
4 PM production/Shutterstock

Mix It Up

"I try hard not to let my workouts get boring. Once a week I'm taking a prenatal yoga class and a Pilates/yoga fusion class, and I rotate in a prenatal yoga or Pilates DVD one other day a week. I'm also shooting for 10 to 20 minutes on the elliptical machine."

Keri L. Duce, West Allis, WI; Mother of Wyatt, 1

Enjoy Nature's Candy

"If you''re craving something sweet, nosh on healthy vegetables. Carrots, beets, and butternut squash can all be wonderfully sweet yet good for you, too. Sweet potatoes always do the trick for me! I often eat one with a dash of cinnamon and a drizzle of agave nectar for dessert."

Allison Reyna, nutrition counselor in Austin, TX; Mother of Hunter, 1

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