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How much weight should I gain when I am pregnant?

pregnant with weight gain

Dear Darla,
My name is Tanya and I am 6 months pregnant. I have already gained like 20 lbs and am terrified of excessive weight gain. I  work out regularly, eat well but the pregnancy weight just keeps piling on. I know a lot of it will come off with the baby, but I just don’t want to put too much weight on.

What do you think?

Tanya, 27, Albuquerque

Dear Tanya,

How many times have you heard a pregnant person say they are eating for two? Well eating for two could be a true statement, but one of the two people are between 0 and 8 pounds, not a 200lb person. Although increasing your caloric intake is important during pregnancy, there are misconceptions around the amount of calories that should be increased during the 9 months of pregnancy. Pregnant women often experience increased cravings which may make it more difficult to control caloric intake, but increasing calories at a moderate and gradual rate is essential.

         So, how much should you be eating? The average woman should increase their calories by 300 a day during pregnancy. This is not a definite number for all women, there are circumstances that influence the number of calories a woman should increase such as weight, height, activity level, and more.

I can’t tell what your starting weight was, or even what kind of shape you are in. I assume you must be in good shape since you state you work out regularly.  If you were below average weight for your weight and height then you should gain between 28 and 40 pounds. If you were average weight for your height before pregnancy, then you should aim to gain between 25 and 35 pounds. Finally if you are overweight for your height, then you should look to gain between 15-25 pounds.

You can determine if you were underweight, average, or overweight before pregnancy based on your height by calculating your BMI. Calculate your BMI by using this simple equation kg/m2. Once you have your BMI calculated, use this number to determine where you stand. A health range is between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI above 24.9 is considered overweight and a number under 18.5 is considered underweight. A BMI calculation does not take into consideration all factors of a person, such as muscle mass, so consult your doctor if you need a more accurate result.

         Currently your weight gain seems to be within range. Remember that while weight may continue increasing in the last trimester, your appetite will be reduced as the baby continues to grow and place pressure on your stomach and other organs.  Many women have far less appetite in the last trimester than in the second.

I would focus instead on consuming high amounts of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and multi-grain products. I would ensure that I limit my sugar and processed food intake.  These things will help you to keep your weight under control and  ensure you are consuming good  quality foods for your growing baby.—resources/body-mass-index-(bmi)-calculator#:~:text=Body%20Mass%20Index%20is%20a,range%20is%2018.5%20to%2024.9.

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What Should I name my Baby?

Dear Darla,

I am 7 months pregnant and we still don’t have a name for the baby. What should we do? We just can’t seem to agree on what the baby should be named.

What are your thoughts?

Soraya, 24, Austin, TX

Dear Soraya,

Finding a name for your new baby can be a challenge at times. Some parents want to be extremely unique like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West who named their daughter North West, and others want to keep baby names simple and classic like Madison or Peter. No one way is right or wrong. As parents you have complete control over what your baby should be named. With that being said, there are a few considerations you might want to keep in mind when thinking of a name for your baby.

         Although you want to pick a name you consider beautiful and unique, remember not all people will have the same opinions as you. If you are someone who can be easily swayed by the ideas of others, try to keep your desired names private and make the decision on your own or with your partner. However, consider how the name you choose will be received by others because some names can cause your child to be teased or bullied in school. For example, there have been parents who have named their kids “Lemon” or “Godblessamerica.” These names may be meaningful to you, but you might be setting up your child for a world of torment as they grow older.

         The other thing to consider, is the impact that your name will have on your child.

Have you noticed that Usain “BOLT” ended up being the fastest man on earth? Or Lonzo BALL ended up becoming an NBA superstar? These may not always be coincidences. Remember, whatever you name your child will be what you are constantly professing into their lives. If you have a baby boy and decide to name him “Havoc” you will constantly be reminding him of being aggressive and unorganized. However, a name like, “Peace” will profess positive attributes onto your child. Although there is no scientific proof behind personality traits developing because of a chosen name, the meaning behind your child’s name is an important factor to consider. When you are searching for a name make sure to look up its meaning and see if it resonates with you.

         Another important consideration is thinking about the nicknames that will come from that chosen name. Oftentimes parents fall in love with a name, but do not consider that no one will ever call them that because there is a shorter version of that name that everyone will use instead. For example, do you like the name Natalie? Yes? Ok, but do you like the name Nat. Most likely everyone around this child will begin calling her Nat, so choose wisely about which nicknames will arise for their given name.

         If you are having trouble finding inspiration for a name, try to search your family tree. Consider someone special in your family or in your life and see if you like their name or possibly their middle name. Make sure you are choosing someone you have fond memories with or someone inspirational to you. Consider your side of the family, as well as your partner’s side of the family.

         So now you have narrowed down your options to a few names. To truly see if that name fits you and your family, say the names out loud often. Try to see how the name fits in with other people in your immediate family. See how that name rolls off your tongue and if it feels comfortable when you say it.

Regardless of the name you choose, it is how you treat your child that will impact whether they love or hate the name.

Best of Luck,

Love Darla.

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Help! I’m bleeding during pregnancy. Is it dangerous?

Dear Darla,

I am four months pregnant with my first baby and today, I had a couple of spots of blood in my underwear. This is scaring me pretty bad. Am I miscarrying? Is bleeding during pregnancy bad?  Should I go to the doctor?

Isabella in Mariposa, CA

Dear Isabella

Many women experience bleeding during pregnancy, so you are not alone. Bleeding during pregnancy can be worrisome, but it is not always a sure indication that there is a problem. However, it is important to monitor yourself in case bleeding persists and becomes heavier. Bleeding can potentially be a sign of a serious issue, so make sure to always disclose any concerns with your health care provider to make sure you and your baby are doing well.

If you see any more bleeding like this, (often called “spotting”) go to your doctor. Spotting during pregnancy is normal as the cervix gets used to being pregnant.

It is important to note there is a difference between spotting and heavier bleeding. Spotting is when you have light bleeding that is typically pink, red, or dark brown. Bleeding is heavier than spotting. You can tell you are bleeding rather than spotting if you require a pad or a tampon to feel secure to go about your day. If you are spotting you may just need a pantyliner to accommodate the bleeding.

         Specifically bleeding in early pregnancy is common. Around 20% of women experience bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy. Bleeding in later pregnancy is considered more serious. Many women experience bleeding in the first few days of becoming pregnant and this is called implantation bleeding. This type of bleeding happens when a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine wall and can often be mistaken as a period if women are not aware they are pregnant. Bleeding in early pregnancy can also be a result of an early miscarriage which happen in about every 10 out of 100 pregnancies. Other than bleeding, cramping may also be a symptom of an early miscarriage.

         Bleeding in late pregnancy can be caused by Placenta Previa. Placenta Previa can occur when the uterus is covering the birth canal. If this is the case, it requires immediate medical attention, so call your doctor right away if experiencing bleeding in late pregnancy. Another reason for bleeding during late pregnancy can be because of a Uterine Rupture. You should be aware of a  uterine rupture if you have previously experienced a c-section. A uterine rupture occurs when a c-section scar reopens during pregnancy and requires emergency medical attention as well.

         There could be a multitude of reasons you are experiencing bleeding or spotting during pregnancy, so the smartest thing to do is call your doctor immediately.

I have listed further resources below for your convenience.  Take care Isabella, and I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

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Internet Porn, Masterbation and Better Communication as a Solution Perhaps?

Dear Darla,

I am 7 months pregnant and concerned that my husband no longer finds me attractive. I see him looking at porn when he thinks I am not looking, and I am pretty sure he masturbates in the shower.  Is this TMI?  Sorry but I don’t know what to do!  I am just really worried about my marriage and I no longer feel as sexy as I once did.  Please Help Darla!

Amie 32, Berkley, CA

Dear Amie,

This is quite a loaded set of questions!  Back in my day, before the Internet, wives used to catch husbands looking at dirty magazines – the internet is much more subtle. 

Where to start with this post?

I would say as in all things, if there is something you want to know, ask.  Communication forms the base of any relationship.  Maybe your husband is feeling, shall we say “urges” and doesn’t want to bother you since he knows you are pregnant, and perhaps tired.  From your post I cannot determine how this pregnancy has progressed and your current state of health.  I would say that you should talk to your husband and have an open and honest conversation. 

I am not sure whether or not you are against the potential masterbation in the shower, but again, this is pretty natural, at least according to my research. Check WebMD

If you are against it for personal or religious reasons, again I would recommend having an honest discussion with your husband.  You could start by asking how he feels your sex life has been lately.  You could also tell him about your concerns and your feelings of doubt.  If you guys have a good relationship, he will welcome the feedback.  If you feel comfortable, join him in the shower one day.  One thing may lead to another… and well, I am sure that you get the idea.

If your relationship is suffering from problems (again I cannot determine from your question), I would really recommend that you guys go and see someone.  This is always best before a baby arrives and further complicates your relationship.

You two started this journey together dearie, but whether you want to finish it together, is a choice only you alone can make.  I would encourage you to reach out to a family member, friend or a specialist to answer your further questions, but most importantly, talk to your husband about your concerns.

Good luck Amie.

With love, Darla

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Are Pregnancy Tests Accurate? Or is it better to go to the Doctor?

Dear Darla,

My name is Emily and I am 23.  My boyfriend and I are sexually active, and my period is two weeks late.  My boyfriend keeps telling me to do a home pregnancy test but I am not convinced that they work!  Wouldn’t a test at the Doctor’s office be better?  My question is do home pregnancy tests work and how reliable are they?

Emily – Scranton, PA.

Dear Emily from Scranton,

So your period is now a few days late and either you are extremely excited or sick to your stomach – I couldn’t tell which from your email.  Either way, your boyfriend is 100% right that you should consider a home pregnancy test.  I can see your doubt, how does a pregnancy test, from the drug store or dollar store accurately tell you whether or not you are about to have the biggest change of your life?

My advice? Go take the pregnancy test. It is quite inexpensive and way cheaper than the doctor’s office.  Best of all, it is easy and it is fast.  You may ask how effective peeing on a 4 inch strip can be?

Well, home pregnancy tests are typically 98% effective at giving accurate results.  However, if you are looking to take a test before your missed period then you should expect less accurate results.  Once a fertilized egg has implanted on the uterine lining, your body will begin to produce human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).  This hormone is what the pregnancy test is detecting and your body begins to produce it six days after fertilization.  The longer you wait to take a pregnancy test, the more HGC will be present in your urine because the hormone doubles every 2-3 days after fertilization.

Although at-home tests tend to be accurate, false negative results are positive if used very early in pregnancy.  However, you may be experiencing symptoms that are indicative of early pregnancy.  In that case, if you cannot wait to see the results, blood tests are the most accurate measure, but can be expensive.  Blood tests tend to be more accurate because they can detect extremely low levels of HCG in the body.  If you do get a positive result on your home pregnancy test, I would recommend that you call your healthcare provider and schedule an appointment for a more conclusive blood test.  Make sure you begin adopting healthy habits such as quitting smoking, drinking alcohol, and begin to take prenatal vitamins.

There are other things to consider when it comes to false positive results in at home pregnancy tests.  Sometimes certain medications such as fertility medications can cause you to get a false positive result.  Other medications should not cause a false positive, but specific medications to help fertility may.  Make sure to always consult with your healthcare provider and you can always do more than one test.  I’ve listed some resources below so you can do more research.  Best of luck!

 The Cleveland Clinic

Mayo Clinic


Dear Darla,

Please Help! I am testing positive on a pregnancy test, but I do not know how far along I am.  My husband and I have sex routinely, but I am concerned that it may not be my husband’s child. How do I determine how far along I am?

Questioning in St. Louis.

Dear Questioning,

This seems a bit loaded of a question, but in response, women typically do not start showing physical signs of pregnancy until months after conception, but this might leave you wondering when you conceived your baby and how many weeks or months along you are.  The most common method you can use to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy is to consider the date of your last period.  This method can be sufficient for a pregnant woman to use because it does not require any medical assistance.  To make this calculation you first need to determine the start date of your last period. Add 7 days to that date and subtract three months to estimate your delivery date.  If you are someone who has irregular periods, this method might not be the most effective for you because your last period may have been months ago. In this case, go to your doctor to try and get a more accurate estimate.

         Doctors and nurses can use different techniques to determine your date of conception and intern estimate your due date. Due dates are not always accurate because they are an estimation. However, most women deliver within 14 days of their due date… which seems carless to me. Doctors may use an ultrasound to determine how many weeks pregnant you are or measure your uterus. In addition, they may also ask you about the date of your last menstrual cycle. To measure your uterus your doctor can use estimate as to where your uterus should expand to at the particular week. For example, if you are 12 weeks, then your uterus should be above your pelvis. Once you are past 17 weeks, the number of centimeters between pubic bone and the uterus is the number of weeks you are pregnant.

         When doctors use ultrasounds there are looking at the fetus inside your uterus. Based on the fetus’s size and development, the doctor can determine how far along you are in your pregnancy. Ultrasound tests are most accurate at predicting due dates and dates of conception when you are less then 20 weeks along. Another method of determining how far along you are is using a urine sample. The urine sample will be examined for the level of a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone level will be low if you are earlier in pregnancy. This method is only effective in early pregnancy because soon HCG level will be high at a consistent level.

         Women can figure out how many weeks they are along in their pregnancy at any time! However, remember that only 4% of pregnant women deliver on the due date they were assigned so make sure to be prepared for a swift exist to the hospital at least 14 days before your assigned due date.

 I have provided you with more resources below but I think the first course of action, should be visiting your family medical provider for confirmation and some blood work.

Health Link


I would really recommend you chat with your husband about this.

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