Don't let belly size determine your pregnancy health

Every pregnant mom knows the stares and occasional comments that a growing baby bump can cause.

Every pregnant mom knows the stares and occasional comments that a growing baby bump can cause. With the steady stream of celebrity baby bump photos on the internet, it can cause new moms to be confused and wonder, 'Am I too big?' or 'Am I too small?' So, here's a reminder of what to expect when you're expecting.

Doctors say first-time moms often make the mistake of thinking they need to eat a lot more to accommodate their growing baby. But really, they only need about 300 extra calories per day for a single pregnancy.

Overeating or under-eating during pregnancy can be bad for the baby, and can make a mom more susceptible to conditions such as hypertension, gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia. So new moms should focus on eating right and not the size of her stomach.

"What you look like on the outside cannot absolutely determine, in any way, what your baby or the growing fetus is doing on the inside," says Dr. Karen Cooper with the Cleveland Clinic. "We have pertinent diagnostic tests that we use during specific times during the mom's pregnancy to determine certain health parameters."

The National Institutes of Health recommend women who begin pregnancy at a healthy weight or normal body mass index should gain between 25-35 lbs.

Doctors do not recommend dieting during pregnancy, but rather say moms-to-be should focus on eating nutritious foods and keeping hydrated. When it comes to the size of that belly, don't compare yourself to anyone else.

"We're all unique individuals and your pregnancy is going to be different from someone else, so you should listen to your body. You should absolutely check in with your provider, you can do some research on your own if you'd like, but certainly your provider is going to be the number one person to get pertinent medical information from," Dr. Cooper says.

Dr. Cooper also says it's also important for pregnant moms to get regular pregnancy-safe exercise, but to check with their care provider before starting any new exercise plan.

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