It’s totally normal for women to gain weight during pregnancy.
As well as that little person you’re growing, there’s also bigger breasts, the weight of your uterus, the placenta, and all that extra blood and fluid.
But just how much weight is normal to gain gets people confused. The truth is that the amount of weight that you will gain during pregnancy is actually decided by a number of different factors.
What Decides Weight Gain?
The amount of weight you gain during pregnancy is usually related to your pre-pregnancy body weight, particularly your pre-pregnancy BMI. Women who are underweight will need to gain more weight during pregnancy, while women who are overweight should gain a little less. The amount of weight you’ll gain will also depend on the type of pregnancy you’re experiencing, such as singles or multiples, and whether you have problematic morning sickness.
Is There Such Thing As Normal?
Every women experiences pregnancy differently, but there are certainly commonalities. For many women, the amount of weight gained in pregnancy is usually between 11 and 16kg. However, this is only true if the expecting mother was of a normal BMI prior to falling pregnant. Women who are classified as overweight or underweight, will gain less or more respectively.
In general, women in a healthy weight range will gain 1-1.5kg in the first three months of their pregnancy, and then 1.5-2kg in every month following until birth.
How To Manage Weight Gain
Women are often very cautious of the foods they eat during pregnancy, and the exercise that they do, often fearing they might endanger their child. It’s good to be cautious, but approach your doctor with any of your concerns, particularly those relating to exercise. It is good to get regular moderate exercise, and maintaining this kind of movement pattern can be beneficial for both mother and child.
Pregnant women do struggle with cravings during pregnancy. It’s important that the majority of the foods that are consumed are healthy and nutritious, spanning fruits and vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes, lean meats, fish, and balanced dairy. Make sure that your diet is rich in key nutrients like folic acid, iron, calcium, iodine and protein. It’s also important to keep up fluid intake, particularly if you’re also suffering from morning sickness and struggling to retain fluids.
Although often told otherwise, pregnant women will not find they need to add a large number of additional kilojoules to their diet in the first three months. However, as the baby grows, around 1,400-1,900kj should be added a day through the second and third trimester. This should be added in the form of healthy foods, and will assist in maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight gain.
Consequences Of Too Much Or Too Little
Women who gain too little weight during pregnancy do put their babies at risk of being born early and having a low birth weight, which can make things harder for them in the future. At the opposite end, women who gain too much weight during pregnancy can increase complication risks significantly. This means they’re at a higher risk of suffering from diabetes, hypertension, miscarriage, and emergency caesarean sections. Babies from overweight mothers have also been found to have a higher risk of health problems at birth, and be more likely to struggle with obesity during childhood.
The most important thing to remember about pregnancy weight gain is that the common adage of ‘eating for two’ is absolutely not correct. Take to your doctor about the actual amount of extra kilojoules you need to consume, and add them to your diet in the form of healthy, nutritionally rich foods. If you follow that basic advice, and maintain a doctor-approved form of regular exercise, pregnancy weight gain should be the last thing you’ll worry about.