My doctor told me I should gain 20 to 24 pounds during my pregnancy and was on a diet to lose weight.

My doctor told me I should gain 20 to 24 pounds during my pregnancy. I just found out I’m pregnant and I was on a diet to lose weight. So far, I have lost 10 pounds and I’m discouraged that I have to gain again.

Listen to your doctor. He/she can guide you through your pregnancy to the healthy outcome of your baby. I understand your wish to keep losing weight, but for the health and growth of your baby, do as your doctor suggests.

Doctors have learned that during pregnancy, the minimum weight gain of a baby, amniotic fluid, placenta and increased uterine and breast weight is 18 to 20 pounds. The four to six additional pounds is necessary for replenishment of nutrients used during the pregnancy.

We used to think that the mother’s body would first fulfill the baby’s nutritional needs before the mother’s own needs were met. Instead, we have found that there is a maternal sparing mechanism, which prevents the mother from depleting her nutritional stores to a critically low level. Weight reduction during pregnancy is not advised even for very overweight women.

Follow the nutrition guidelines set out by your doctor. Limit your weight gain to 22 to 28 pounds total. Then after delivery, resume your weight loss program. If you plan to nurse your baby, you need a very slow weight loss diet so as to ensure the nutrient content and quantity of your breast milk.