nd first-time mothers were most likely to put on too much weight, the researchers note.
"We would like to see better services for women to help them manage their weight gain during pregnancy," Stevens said.
Other experts agreed.
Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian, clinical nutritionist and exercise physiologist in Fairfield, Conn., said for anyone who is already overweight or obese when she gets pregnant, "it is going to be even more difficult to lose the post-pregnancy weight."
But moms-to-be should not diet during pregnancy, she said. "We don't want a study like this to scare people into doing that. What we want people to do is eat carefully and healthfully when they are pregnant, but not overeat."
Nor should new mothers try to lose the extra weight during the first few months after delivery, Heller said.
"The women are exhausted, their body is still going through huge changes," she said. "If they are breast-feeding, we don't want them restricting calories at a high level, because they need those extra calories to produce breast milk."
Because it is so difficult for many women to control weight gain during and after pregnancy, Heller believes they need more support and education.
To control weight gain during pregnancy, Kaiser Permanente offers these tips:
- Watch your diet. Each day have 8 to 12 servings of fruits and vegetables, 3 servings of low-fat dairy, 5 to 9 ounces of protein-rich foods, 6 to 10 servings of whole grains and 3 to 7 teaspoons of fats, such as olive oil and nuts.
- Eat regular meals and small healthy snacks between meals.
- Cut fat to less than 30 percent of your calories.
- Cut back on sweets and sugary drinks.
- Keep a food diary to check for nutritional adequacy and portion management.
- Have only 100 to 300 calories a day more than you had before you became pregnant.
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