Pregnancy weight gain 101

Weight gain during pregnancy is often a topic that is joked about, and it's not unheard of to hear expecting moms comment on how they're going to resemble a small whale in several months. Although it may provide a good laugh, weight gain and loss after pregnancy can be complex.

Once a pregnancy test comes back positive, there may be a lot going through your mind. One of these things may be how much weight you're going to potentially put on. If you continue to eat right and exercise throughout pregnancy, most of it can be lost once your little one enters the world. However, if you take advantage of the situation and start binge eating like you've never done before, you'll have quite the challenge in nine months.

What can I expect?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that the average weight gain for women with a body mass index (BMI) indicating a low body weight is about 28 to 40 pounds, while women with a normal BMI should expect 25 to 35 more pounds. In addition, expecting moms who are overweight will likely put on somewhere between 15 to 25 pounds while pregnant.

The organization reports that expecting moms typically need to consume between 2,200 and 2,900 calories per day - less in the beginning and more as you get further along. During the first trimester, you don't need any calories. In the second, you should try to eat approximately 350 more calories per day than you normally do, and 450 additional daily calories during the third.

If you have any questions about weight gain, your healthcare provider can be a helpful resource. He or she could easily give you a target that you can use to monitor your weight gain, that way you can see if you're under or over where you should be.

Don't rush your body
Some women find the prospect of putting on extra weight to be stressful and look toward the day when they can strut around in their skinny jeans again. However, it's important to have realistic expectations about losing weight after pregnancy.

It's true - there are some celebrities, such as Heidi Klum, Beyonce, Celine Dion and Penelope Cruz, who have appeared on the cover of magazines shortly after giving birth, proving that they were able to shed the pounds in just weeks. However, this doesn't mean that such a dramatic weight loss is what all new moms should expect, especially if they can't afford the best personal trainers in the country or don't have have tons of time to dedicate to working out and dieting. In time, losing pregnancy weight can be successfully achieved.

"The expectation of getting back into your skinny jeans within weeks of delivery is ludicrous," Adrienne Youdim, M.D., medical director of the Center for Weight Loss at the Department of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, told The Huffington Post. "At the same time childbearing is a common period when young women are vulnerable to gaining weight that is never lost."

Having a baby can place some stress on the body, which is why it's important that you take care of yourself after delivery. While you should start cutting out that extra 450 calories a day, it's important that you don't starve yourself and instead continue to replenish your body with well-balanced meals that contains lots of fruits and vegetables.

In addition, it's recommended that women wait two weeks after vaginal birth - it's longer if you have a Cesarean section - to resume exercising. In the meantime, go for walks and stretch.

Do you have any advice for weight gain or losing it after giving birth? How did you manage those food cravings during pregnancy? Did you seek any advice from a professional? Leave your answers in the comments section!