During pregnancy, it is vital that you are eating well and having enough calories to sustain both you and your baby.
It is just as important however that you aren’t overdoing it and eating too much of what you are craving and putting yourself in a situation that you may find difficult later.
Every pregnant woman will gain weight differently and it is important that you try and keep it to a healthy and safe level for both you and your baby.
What is the recommended amount of weight one should be gaining during pregnancy according to the experts?
The American College of Obstetricians and gynecologists recommend that;
Underweight women who have a BMI of under 18.5 should put on 28-40lbs
Normal weight women who have a BMI of 18.5-24.9 should gain 25-35lbs
Overweight women who have a BMI of 25-29.9 should gain 15-25lbs
Obese women who have a BMI of 30+ should gain 11-20lbs
Not all weight, however, is just fat, the breakdown of what constitutes the weight gain is as follows;
Amniotic fluid 2-3lbs
Fat and protein storage 8-10lbs
As you can see this all adds up to quite a considerable amount, it’s actually 25-35lbs!
Weight gain by trimester, how much should I be gaining?
In the first trimester, your baby is still very small so weight gain should be approximately 1-5lbs.
In the second trimester, the baby is beginning to grow so weight gain should be 1-2lbs per week
In the third trimester, the baby will gain the most weight so you should gain 1-2lbs a week.
Gaining weight healthily
It is vital that you try to gain healthy weight whilst you are pregnant. Eating balanced nutritional meals is good for both you and baby.
Avoiding junk foods high in sugar and fat could prevent unnecessary weight gain which is linked to gestational diabetes.
These unhealthy foods have very little nutritional value and will be passed on to your baby.
Try and limit fatty processed food full of sugar and any junk food and opt for a balance of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, dairy and healthy fats.
Try and go for real foods rather then processed meals as they will help you feel full and curb and cravings you may have.
It is ok to have a treat once in a while but a slice of cake after every meal is not such a great idea.
You can also try and replace sugar with honey and maple syrup which are an excellent alternative.
A prenatal vitamin could also help if you have any gaps in your nutrition.
A DHA could also be helpful as it helps the baby’s brain grow and prevents postpartum depression.
How can I control pregnancy weight gain?
There are a few things that you can implement just to keep an eye on how much weight you are gaining.
Sometimes we don’t notice until we step on that scale and then get a huge shock!
It’s better to try and control it from the beginning rather than gaining lots of weight and then trying to lose it after the baby is born.
Try and stay as active as you can during pregnancy, and try and do something daily.
There are so many pregnancy fitness programs at the moment which can help you keep motivated and accountable.
Please speak to your doctor before embarking on any exercise routine while pregnant.
Eat 5-6 small meals
Eating small frequent meals naturally speeds up your metabolism and your body burns fat at a faster pace.
This small change could mean that you can slow down pregnancy weight gain.
On average a pregnant woman should consume the following:
1900 if you are sedentary with little physical activity
2100 calories if you have some physical activity
2350 for an active lifestyle of between 2-3hrs a week of moderate exercise.
I used My Fitness Pal to keep an eye on what I was eating and found it to be the easiest app to use.
It’s also free which is always a bonus, and you can pop your weight in just to keep an eye on things.
Pregnant women should be drinking in the region of 2.3 liters of fluids a day this includes water, tea, coffee, and any herbal drinks.
I use a plastic refillable water bottle. This helps me monitor just what I am taking in as I find keeping up with my water intake particularly difficult.
Some herbal teas are not recommended to consume while pregnant, like echinacea and black cohosh.
It is important to speak with your physician regarding the amount of caffeine you can take in during pregnancy from coffee and teas.
To stay hydrated consume half your body weight in ounces of water and remember that caffeine is a diuretic which can cause excessive water loss or dehydration.”
Avoid eating out too often
Easier said than done when you have had no sleep, been running around after the kids all day and just want takeout and a Netflix movie.
But the truth is that take away meals come with a huge number of calories normally due to the size of the portions they send, you also feel the pressure to finish the meal.
If you do have a take out then maybe split it and have it over the course of two meals rather than one.
What issues can arise from gaining too much weight?
Diastasis recto is also known as abdominal separation.
It is defined as a gap of approximately 2.7cm or greater between the rectus abdominis muscle.
Gaining too much weight in pregnancy can sometimes be a factor. For me this was the case:
I wasn’t very big before I got pregnant weighing 113lbs and having 9lb plus babies meant that my stomach expanded and stretched causing diastasis recti.
Stretch marks from gaining too much too quickly
Stretch marks usually appear when you have gained weight quickly in pregnancy.
The skin stretches to accommodate the growing baby leaving you with stretch marks, if you gain too much weight then this will often make them worse.
Issues in labor
Gaining excessively is known to have implications for labor.
Being bigger means that it is likely you will have a larger baby, having a big baby is not always a bad thing but it can make laboring naturally more difficult.
For this reason, last-minute complications mean there is a far greater chance that the mom will need to have a cesarean section.
Bigger babies are also more likely to have shoulder dystocia whereby the baby’s shoulders are bigger then its head making a natural birth extremely difficult and painful.
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Women who gain too much weight in pregnancy are more prone to gestational diabetes.
This is a dangerous condition where the body is unable to produce enough insulin to balance glucose levels in your blood.
Being diagnosed with it during one pregnancy will put you at a higher risk of developing it again.
The good news is that most moms won’t still be diabetic after the baby is born but unfortunately will mean you will be at a high risk of developing type two diabetes later in life.