After that first single cell comes alive, every ounce of your baby’s growing body comes from you, Mom. Your habits during pregnancy are your baby’s, too. Your daily activities and the foods you eat are your baby’s primary building blocks for growth. With that in mind, here are eight great tips for keeping your pregnancy weight within a healthy range.  And as always, if you have questions about eating healthy, come see Dr. Hessel .

1. Keep portion sizes the same.

Despite the cliché, you are not “eating for two people”. You are nourishing yourself and your baby. Eat the same portion sizes as you did before pregnancy. Although you’ll need about 500 extra calories per day during pregnancy and breastfeeding, eating an extra snack here and there might be an easier habit to break than eating larger portions at every meal.

2. Know how much to gain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, women who were at a normal, healthy weight before pregnancy need to gain 25 to 35 pounds. Underweight women need to gain up to 40 pounds. Overweight or obese women may need to gain as little as 15 pounds. Remember that these calculations can increase if you are carrying more than one baby.

3. Strive for balance.

Your eating patterns should be as regular as possible. You may notice that you’re suddenly ravenous all the time! But make the effort to control it by sticking to a schedule – eat the same amount of food at the same time every day if you can, this will help regulate your blood sugar and keep your energy level at its best.  Remember to include a wide variety of foods – “eat the rainbow” (foods of every color) for optimum nutrition.

4. Slow down and chew thoroughly.

This is an overlooked but important factor when it comes to weight gain. A bigger appetite can sometimes mean the urge to “scarf down” those meals – but remember to take your time and chew each bite 25-30 times. You’ll be more satisfied and it will also even out your blood sugar levels, making you feel full sooner. And let’s face it, if you are going to be mindful of what you’re eating you might as well try to savor it.

5. Avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime.

Not only will this help you get the rest you need (now more than ever!), but it will reduce the amount of food that is stored as fat.

6. Practice prenatal yoga.

Prenatal yoga is a wonderful form of exercise. It is easy on the joints, but still helps improve strength and muscle tone. It also improves balance and circulation. The deep breathing used in prenatal yoga will also relax the body and may help speed the labor process, too.

7. Do your thing!

Of course, check with your doctor first, but unless you’re told otherwise, do the activities you normally do – biking, errands, swimming, etc. There’s no need to put your usual activities on hold during pregnancy. It will feel great to get out and be active, and positive comments and interaction with people will lift your spirits.