You can include the mighty apple in your daily dose of healthy carbs. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Emotional fluctuations. Food cravings. Aches, pains, swelling.

Many of the changes that happen in pregnancy can be hard to deal with.

Weight gain is certainly another one of them, especially when you consider that our culture has an obsession with weight and what women should look like. This can be difficult when you’re pregnant.

But pregnant women need to remember: You will gain weight, but it’s not just weight—it’s another human being you’re growing!

Your OB or midwife will look at your weight before pregnancy, as well as gauging your health and any special needs for the pregnancy itself, then provide you information about expected weight gain.

They’ll check your Body Mass Index, or BMI, which uses your height and weight to determine a healthy number.

A healthy BMI is in the 19 to 24.9 range.

If you have a healthy BMI, your recommended weight gain for pregnancy is about 25 to 35 pounds.

This might seem like a lot, since your baby will typically weigh 6 to 9 pounds. But you have to remember that the rest of the weight includes growth of the placenta, the uterus, more blood and fluid in the maternal system, and fat stores that will be used after birth for breastfeeding.

Typically, you will gain about 1 pound per month in the first three months. In the second and third trimesters, this increases to half a pound to 1 pound per week.

If you aren’t gaining weight according to this schedule, you may feel tempted to try one of the diets that are always being touted in the media.

As I was checking out at the grocery store recently, I couldn’t help but notice the magazines that had articles about how to lose weight. Many of these were based on current diet trends.

One of the current trends recommends eliminating or drastically reducing your carbohydrates.

To be fair, there are healthy and not-so-healthy carbs.

Later, a recent study came to my attention: Low carbohydrate diets may increase risk of neural tube defects.

This first-of-its-kind study aimed to determine if today’s low carb diets are affecting babies.

The researchers examined data on “1,740 mothers of infants, stillbirths and terminations with anencephaly or spina bifida (cases), and 9,545 mothers of live born infants without a birth defect (controls) conceived between 1998 and 2011.”

The finding: “Women with restricted carbohydrate intake were 30 percent more likely to have an infant with anencephaly or spina bifida.”

The concern is that, without carbs, women don’t get enough folic acid. Folic acid, as we know, is critical to the development of the fetal brain and neural tube.

But what do carbs do? And what are the “good” carbs?

The energy you get come partly from carbohydrates. Though cookies, cakes and pies have carbs, we’d rather you focus on getting carbs from better sources, including:

  • Whole grain products, including brown rice
  • Beans, peas, lentils
  • Fruits
  • Oatmeal
  • Starchy vegetables

You should aim for nine to 11 servings of carbs per day.

An example of a single serving includes just one of the following: half an English muffin; 1/3 cup of rice; 1 cup of raw vegetables; an apple.

If you eat two apples, an English muffin, 1 cup of rice and 3 cups of vegetables in one day, you’d get your recommended allotment of carbs.