Pregnancy and Weight Gain

Weight Gain in Pregnancy title imageWe’ve all heard the phrase “I’m eating for two.” Even though you’re eating for two, or three, the recommended weight gain during pregnancy is based on your height and weight. The two values together calculate a measure of body fat, which is called Body Mass Index (BMI). So it’s important to know your pre-pregnancy BMI to understand how much you should put on.

It’s easy to believe that you can eat anything when you are pregnant. Perhaps the craving for chili dogs or ice cream in the middle of the night is OK because “the baby wants it.” Depending on your BMI and the average distribution of pregnancy weight gain for a single or multiple gestation, women must be careful not to put on too much or too little. The amount of weight gain outside the normal recommendations may lead to complications. Getting the right amount and eating the right foods help support a healthy pregnancy.

Here is the average distribution of weight gain in pounds for a baby:
Baby = 7 ½
Placenta = 1 ½
Breasts = 2
Uterus = 2
Amniotic Fluid = 2
Blood Volume = 4
Fluid Volume = 4
Fats, Protein, Nutrients = 7

Most women don’t need to increase calories in the first trimester. According to the Institute of Medicine, women only need an extra 340 calories a day in the second trimester, and 452 calories a day in the third trimester. If you are having twins, then the recommendations for weight gain are a bit more.

Pregnancy Weight Gain Chart - IOM

Health care providers advise a steady weight gain for a healthy pregnancy outcome. Women who get more than the recommended amount may have a large baby, and are at higher risk of having a premature birth or cesarean section delivery. However, women who don’t put on enough weight may have a low birth weight or premature baby.

The chance of having pregnancy problems is higher for overweight and obese women. These women are at increased risk for health issues like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and respiratory complications, or death. The probability of a miscarriage and a recurrent miscarriage is more likely for an obese woman than a normal weight woman.

COMPLICATIONS LINKED TO OBESITYBabies of obese women are at higher risk for congenital abnormalities (neural tube defects, cardiac problems, cleft lip or cleft palate), macrosomia, or fetal death. Macrosomic babies are at danger for birth trauma like shoulder dystocia. Premature babies have an increased chance for lung and heart complications after delivery. Large babies are more likely to have obesity in childhood and as an adult with health issues.

Talk to your health care provider about managing your weight throughout the pregnancy. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly (if not contraindicated), and go to your prenatal appointments to keep your pregnancy and weight on point.

Good luck!

Here are some helpful links and resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  Adult BMI calculator

Institute of Medicine  Healthy weight gain during pregnancy

Baby Center  Pregnancy weight tracker

March of Dimes  Eating healthy during pregnancy


  • Institute of Medicine
  • American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • American Pregnancy Association
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nurses



A Healthy Start for a Healthy Pregnancy

Are you thinking about having a baby? 

If the answer is yes, then start planning the right way! Taking care of your health is the start to a healthy pregnancy. Preconception care is your chance to address any medical problems you have or screen for potential risk factors that may affect your baby before getting pregnant. The baby’s major organs and body systems form in the first 8 weeks of pregnancy. Your physical and emotional health influences fetal growth and development. So don’t be afraid to schedule a preconception checkup with your physician. 


What should you expect at your appointment?

The medical practitioner will ask you questions and discuss your health history:

  • Reproductive – Periods, previous pregnancies, birth control, Pap smears, STD’s and vaginal infections affect a woman’s ability to conceive. 
  • Medical/Surgical – Medical issues like diabetes, asthma, hypertension, or thyroid disease can complicate your pregnancy. Reasons for surgeries, procedures, or hospitalizations can affect the management of your prenatal care.
  • Medications – Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, supplements, or herbs could be harmful to the developing fetus or contraindicated in pregnancy.
  • Family Health – The health history of you and your partner’s family helps the doctor screen for medical problems that could be inherited or often seen in certain ethnic groups. He/she may refer you to a genetic counselor who can discuss genetics, birth defects, or other medical conditions that run in families.
  • Emotional and Social – Disclosing a history of mental health issues like depression, eating disorder, or domestic violence helps the practitioner give the appropriate referral for counseling.
  • Lifestyle – The habits of you and your partner such as smoking, drinking alcohol, drug use, diet, exercise, stress, or caffeine consumption could affect fertility and/or pregnancy. Stopping harmful habits may reduce the risk of fetal complications and birth defects.
  • Home and Workplace Environment – Possible hazards like exposure to X-rays, cat feces, mercury, lead or solvents  are dangerous and affects your ability to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

reproductive history points

 What’s next?

  • The doctor might perform a standard physical, especially a pelvic exam. 
  • Vital signs such as height and weight to calculate your BMI, blood pressure, and/or urine sample to screen for glucose and protein may be recorded. 
  • Your health care provider may order lab tests as indicated like rubella, hepatitis, RPR, HIV, CBC, Pap, or carrier screening for genetic diseases and other conditions.
  • If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, thyroid disease, hypertension, or asthma, the practitioner may refer you to a specialist for management.
  • He/she will discuss your menstrual cycle to determine the time you are more likely to get pregnant.
  • The physician will prescribe a prenatal vitamin with folic acid.
  • He/she may suggest lifestyle changes like weight loss for obesity or increasing caloric intake for being underweight, quit smoking or drinking, stop medications that are harmful to the baby, updating your immunizations, and avoiding stress.

common reasons for genetic counseling


Women should be healthier before conceiving to prevent problems that could affect the pregnancy and the baby later. The preconception visit with your medical provider is a great opportunity to learn about your health and the right steps to plan for a healthy pregnancy.

Ways to improve your preconception health


For more information, here are some helpful sites about preconception care. Good Luck! – Good health before pregnancy FAQ pdf – Your checkup before pregnancy – Family health history form – Preconception care – Preconception checklist



  • ACOG – The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • March of Dimes
  • Baby Center Expert Advice
  • Office on Women’s Health, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • AAFP – American Academy of Family Physicians 






Happy New Year!


Hope everyone is “feelin’ good” for the year 2015. Have a healthy and happy one! 




Enjoy the song 🙂


Happy Holidays!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!

Thanks quote

Weird is Cool

My son recently mentioned that one of his favorite songs is “Cool Kids” by Echosmith. He was singing the song while I was driving him home from Karate class one evening. The lyrics struck my core. Little Ray identified with the words of the song and I suddenly feel his pain.

I feel Ray’s struggle to “fit in” among his peers, in society, and in life. He didn’t seem particularly sad about the reasons he likes the song. Then again, I didn’t ask why. I already know he’s the odd one out.

Ray may have a few friends that talk to him or play with him. Sometimes his classmates invite him to birthday parties. But kids don’t ask him for playdates or sleepovers often. My son is what people call “weird.”

We all want to fit in and be likeable. Yet society has already labeled the norm. There are rules on how to behave, or what the public considers as proper and decent in appearance and upbringing.

For Ray, these rules aren’t always easy. His Autism is mostly strange to kids and even some adults. I think ASD makes Ray unique. It gives him a quirky personality, and nothing is ever boring when it comes to my son.

Oddly, I relate to Ray’s experiences. It’s a constant battle to please everyone, although we just can’t please everybody.

Hopefully, the criticisms, put-downs, and letdowns do not deter Ray from overcoming life’s challenges. I hope he takes each discouraging experience and changes them into a strengthening lesson of life.

Or, maybe I do because I need to.

Think positively. A sad or negative situation may feel like it happens almost all the time. But sometimes a happy event is waiting to surprise us. Just as Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

It sounds so simple to leave a dismal incident behind and pursue brighter opportunities. Though it’s harder to take the initiative and open the door.

In my case, I definitely need to think positively when it comes to writing. The determination to write something good, something memorable, something moving, and something worth buying is my present struggle in life. Some people will like my stories and some will hate it. I’ll just learn from the critics, and turn the negatives around to make my other stories better.

Possibility Quote

Nothing in life is easy and I understand this hard reality. I remember telling one of my beta readers the reason I started the Dia-Matic Keys project. Simply, I’m challenging myself to see if I can finish it. I want to show my kids that having aspirations are worthwhile.

This is my unique way of leaving advice on how to get through life’s trials and tribulations to my children. So don’t be afraid to dream. Life is scary, yet it’s also an adventure. I hope my kids will enjoy the fictional stories and learn something from them. As a writer, I wish that others would too.

In Ray’s case, some kids don’t like him. They don’t know my son. But some kids like Ray once they get to know him better. Those few friends help him feel good about himself. Ray needs these little triumphs to boost his self-esteem and live his life the best way he can.

So in the end, “weird” could turn to “cool.”

Have you dealt with life’s struggles? Was “fitting in” difficult? Or, have you empathized with the “weird kid” and helped him or her feel like they belong?

Harmony – James’ Movement

I’ve been quiet for the month of August and there’s a good reason. My second installment of the Dia-Matic Keys Series needed editing and copy-editing after a few revisions. The copy-editing took longer than expected. I wanted to enjoy what was left of the summer with my family.

So I want to thank all my beta readers, and all the wonderful musicians who gave me insight about playing the bass. Without your advice, I could not have shined the much deserved spotlight on James.

Shutterstock image 92659966

Shutterstock image 92659966

Everything seems to be falling apart for James Roberts. It’s time for Dia-Matic Keys to record their debut album, yet there is no band to record one. A bad decision affects the group and James pays the price. Everyone depends on him to save the day. But what happens if he can’t even save himself?

James is the bassist and leader of Dia-Matic Keys. Of course, being a strong leader means taking on responsibilities. For every action, there’s a consequence. Right now, nobody in the band wants to follow him. When James makes a difficult choice to sacrifice love for a chance at fame, the group’s recording contract is at stake. Elle no longer wants to be part of the band, and James is at fault. Without her, there is no Dia-Matic Keys. Relationships and friendships are about to end if he doesn’t make amends. James must fight to redeem himself, especially to Elle.

Secrets and betrayal are dividing the group. James struggles with his own fears, desires, and loyalties to prove his worth as a leader, a brother, and a friend. Will he gain the band’s respect once more? Can James win back Elle’s love?

It’s been a long journey to discover James for the amazing character he really is. So I hope you want to get to know him as well.

Harmony is now available:


It’s a “Family Affair”

It’s my family reunion!

Umali Family Tree

I’m excited, tired, and nervous at the same time. The excited part is self-explanatory. I’m tired from cleaning the house for a family luncheon this Friday. My nerves are getting the best of me because my mother requested that I do the “welcome” speech at our family reunion dinner tonight.

Public speaking? Ugh!!!

I don’t have any cool ideas for my speech. I haven’t met half of my relatives. What am I going to say to them? “Nice to meet you! So how are we related?” Next comes the small talk.

Have I mentioned that I don’t like public speaking. I’d rather scribble my thoughts on paper, or typing my words on a smart phone, tablet, or laptop is even better. Anything but a speech. I get stage fright. As soon as I see strange and/or familiar faces staring back at me, my mind freezes. The sound of my voice is embarrassing, and I’ll start to stutter.

public speaking fear

Besides the obvious fear of public speaking, the mere thought of it prevents me from doing a welcome speech for my family. It’s hard because I want to speak on something other than a family tree or ancestry. My relatives will be reintroducing/introducing themselves to one another anyway. I’m certain that everybody will have fun during the dinner. Telling everyone to enjoy the night is kind of “blah-blah.”

Then I was watching my kids swimming and playing with each other. I’m thinking…it would’ve been nice if they had met my grandparents. Their great-grandparents passed away a very long time ago. My memories of them and my great-aunts are vague, especially of my grandfather. He is the eldest of the Umali Family. But I do remember the funny moments vividly.

Memories! I’ll use that as a theme for my speech. I know the topic isn’t original, but my memories are the only way I can relate to all of my relatives. It’s also a chance to relay the point of my speech: getting to know the ancestors I haven’t met.

If my mother was a public speaker she’d be the one to welcome all of you. Since she’s not, the job has been left to me. I won’t be able to look at everyone because I suffer from stage fright. So if you don’t mind, I’m going to keep my eyes down for now.

What can I say about the Umali Family? I’ve had the pleasure of knowing three of them. Lola (grandma) Coring was the first one I met, then Lola Nene, and finally my Lolo (grandpa) Celo. I never got a chance to meet the other two brothers, but I’m sure they’re just as wonderful as their older brother, and their sisters.

When my mother asked me to do the welcome speech, my first thought was “OMG! I hate public speaking.” Then my second thought was worse. I didn’t know what to say for my speech. I didn’t have enough time to get to know my Lolas, and I didn’t have a lot of time with my Lolo either.

All that I remember was Lola Coring showing me how to make stinky Ginisang Ampalaya (Filipino vegetable recipe). “If it isn’t stinky, it won’t be good.”

Lola Nene showed me how to make curls in my hair with a bunch of bobby pins. “Your hair won’t be curly if you don’t leave it in while you sleep.” It actually works if you don’t have long hair.

Lolo Celo tried to convince me that his farts smelled good, just like food. “I’m telling you, it smells like Chicken Adobo!” (Filipino recipe)

Then I realized my memories are a great way to say something about this remarkable family. Just look towards one another and share a favorite memory of your parents, Lolo, and Lola. Get to know your family through the eyes of the person who’s sharing his or her story.

So now I’m going to look out to all of you just to say welcome Umali, Salvacion, and Ondoy Families. Laugh a lot with each other, enjoy your moments together, make more amazing memories. That way, your children can pass on a fond memory of you.


My speech is short and simple. I know it’s not mind-blowing or creative, but when I speak, I’ll be uniting everybody in the Umali Clan for one special night. That’s a good reason for me to face my fear, by standing in front of a bunch of people, and say into the mic: It’s a family affair…welcome!

A Father’s Day Message

My Family

My Family



Father’s Day is approaching.

It’s a wonderful time to honor a great man who taught, or is still teaching you everything about life. An amazing man who continues to love you for as long as he’s alive.




But what if you didn’t have such a wonderful father to nurture and love you as a child and as an adult?

How do you become a great dad when the one you have cares less about you?

It’s a sad situation to imagine when I didn’t have such a bad childhood. Being an only child, I had a fortunate upbringing. But my husband was not so lucky, he had it rough living in an abusive environment. To sum up, his father was not a good parent.

With that said, I’m dedicating this post to a man who despite his unfortunate past, has become an awesome dad.

I remember the day I told my husband we were expecting our first baby. Many emotions whirled inside him: happy, nervous, excited, anxious, and fearful. He definitely wanted to start a family, but being a father for the first time scared him.

Of course, he did not admit to his fear, but I could tell. He began to voice his concerns about job stability, and worries about parenting. The day I told him about my pregnancy was the day my husband started growing up. Yes, I said it and no, it didn’t happen right away. My husband gradually matured into a responsible adult.

I thought his transformation was a step in the right direction. Yet the awareness of his past childhood bothered me. After all, he didn’t have a good a role-model. So I was nervous not only for me, but also for him about being a parent.

Just because a boy did not have a good father doesn’t mean that he will inherently be a bad father. There are many fatherly role models in the community. Whether it be an uncle, a teacher, a coach, an older neighbor, a friend’s father, or a TV personality. For my husband, that role model was his grandfather and Bill Cosby.

If you grew up in the 80s, then you know all about the “Cosby Show.” My husband often imagined that “Heathcliff Huxtable” was his dad. Bill Cosby’s character personified everything about a father to my husband: loving, wise, devoted, respectable, strong, supportive, and funny. He wanted the tight-knit and nurturing family life portrayed in the “Cosby Show” for his own.

Then our daughter was born, and my husband vowed to be the kind of father he’s always wished for. Like with any new parent, he had a lot to learn. Just like with any learning experience, he gained the knowledge to become a better person and therefore, a good parent. His dedicated parenting skills became an asset when our son was diagnosed with ASD.

He simply puts the well-being of his family before his own. He does what it takes to keep his “little princess” and “little man” happy, healthy, safe, and loved. His children absolutely adore him, and this is his reward for being a loving father.

Father's Day QuoteOur family life is filled with laughter, tears, chaos, fights, togetherness, and encouragement. We love and respect each other in the Vasquez home. For my husband, this is all that matters.

My husband may not have a good father, but that did not stop him from being a great dad.

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful daddies and father figures out there!

Hugs and Kisses over Hits and Misses

What about cries and spills? No way! Sometimes it’s easier to “take a chill pill.” LOL.

I’m talking about nursing. As my tagline says, I’m also a Professional Registered Nurse. So in honor of National Nurses Week, I’m dedicating this post to all the wonderful RNs out there.

I must admit that when I started out in this profession, it wasn’t all wonderful. Not everything smells like roses. In fact, I received a lot of nicks and scratches from the thorns. There were many times when I just wanted to stop. I didn’t even want to stop and smell the roses as a way of coping. I just wanted to stop being a nurse altogether.

Working in New York City at the time didn’t make things any easier. The Big City is tough. I am this little person, under five feet tall. This tiny, insignificant, new nurse in a fast-pace and sometimes harsh environment. If I wasn’t careful, I got lost and engulfed by the cold reality. I burned out quick.

Then one day, an epiphany came to me. I learned how to care.

This realization helped me in understanding what it really means to be a nurse. It’s not enough to just show up for work because of staffing shortage. Being a nurse means:

You will never be bored.
You will always be frustrated.
So much to do and so little time.
You will step into people’s lives
And you will make a difference.
Some will bless you.
Some will curse you.
You will see people at their worst –
And at their best.
You will never cease to be amazed
At people’s capacity for
Love, courage, and endurance.
You will see life begin – – and end.
You will experience resounding triumphs
And devastating failures.
You will cry a lot.
You will laugh a lot.
You will know what it is to be human
And to be humane.

-Melodie Chenevert, RN

This is an awesome poem about a great profession. She says it best. I let all the frustrations, unappreciation, and failures bring me down. I questioned my choice in life instead of learning from the work experiences. I had to truly step back, take my time, and accept why I studied nursing in the first place.

My life’s calling wasn’t a mistake, it was a blessing.  In realizing this, I evolved into a better person. Not only did I learn to do my best from the patients, I also learned from my colleagues, nurse managers, and interdisciplinary teams. Most importantly, I learned to use those learning experiences to become a caring nurse.

I used my heart and soul to interact with my patients. With that human element, I gained insight into what it means to care. Care about what I do and for those I care for:

  • C compassion and competency
  • A attentiveness and advocacy
  • R responsiveness and responsibility
  • E empathy and evaluation

Without that emotion and understanding, I wouldn’t be able to do the other part of my tagline: write about my experiences.

So I’ll take the hits of a busy schedule. Accept that I missed a couple of things only to learn from it, and get it right the next time around. Offer a kiss on the cheek for a patient’s victory. Give a hug when a patient is in need of one. Lend my shoulder when a patient cries. Clean up the spills simply because a patient can’t by themselves.

And as for that chill pill, I won’t give it to a patient because it sounds easy, I’ll give my care instead. As for me, I can always use one, especially after a hard day’s work. But I’ll take a “thank you” from a patient anytime 😉


%d bloggers like this: