Gaining weight is both natural and expected when you are pregnant. However, as your doctor has probably already told you, it is best to maintain a healthy weight and to keep your weight gain down during the entire pregnancy.
Don't confuse this with going on a diet while you are pregnant – you are in fact not advised to attempt to lose weight while you are pregnant no matter what you weigh. Weight loss dieting is not for pregnant women; period.
To properly manage your weight gain you want to start at the beginning:
• Understand the dangers of gaining too much weight during pregnancy
• Calculate the optimal weight that you should gain during your pregnancy
• Monitor your weight gain both before you get pregnant and while pregnant
Pregnancy, you will soon learn is full of compromises; you have to make decisions that work for both you and your baby. And like so many other things, the amount of weight that you gain during pregnancy impacts both you and your baby.
What are the dangers of overweight during pregnancy?
Excessive weight gain when you are pregnant can set you up for all manner of problems during and after your pregnancy that will affect both you and your baby:
• Preeclampsia, a serious complication that combines high blood pressure, excessive protein in urine and swelling of the extremities. Untreated, it can lead to death of both mother and child. On its onset, there is no solution but to deliver the baby albeit prematurely.
• Chronic hypertension that could lead to a stroke or even heart disease. Your chances of developing High blood pressure are higher and could very bring on complications like preeclampsia and intrauterine growth retardation.
• Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy with a higher likelihood if you are overweight. It may among other things result in a really big baby; macrosomia that requires you to have a c-section.
• Thromboembolic disease which are blood clots that start in the legs but can break loose and travel to the lungs, where they can quickly cause a fatal pulmonary embolism.
• Studies reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have also made the association of gestational weight gain with the risk of obesity of the offspring by age 7. Simply put, the excess weight that you put on while pregnant could set up your child for obesity in the future.
• Your baby is at risk too as overweight during pregnancy can increase the baby's risk of developing spinal bifida, a neural tube defect that leads to poor development of the spine.
So exactly how much weight should you gain when pregnant?
Nothing is cast in stone, but professionals agree and recommend that the healthy amount of weight that you should gain during pregnancy is largely determined by your pre-pregnancy weight;
• Up to 45 pounds if you were underweight
• 25-35 pounds if you were at a normal weight
• No more than 25 pounds if you were overweight
If you are having a multiple pregnancy (twins or triplets), you can expect to gain more than the normal amount of weight.
How much weight should you gain at the different stages of your pregnancy?
Once your doctor has given you a target weight gain, it's easy for you to track your weight gain.
You may find that your pregnancy weight gain in the three trimesters is sporadic at the best and it is definitely different from pregnancy to pregnancy and woman to woman.
However, if you have been told to gain the standard 25-35 pounds total in your pregnancy you can use this as a general guide to the amount of weight you should put on during the 3 stages of your pregnancy:
• First Trimester; can range anywhere from 1-4.5 pounds. Depending in part on your tolerance for food during this period when morning sickness is at its worst.
• Second Trimester: about 4 pounds per month
• Third Trimester; about 1-2 pounds per week
So there you have it. Weight gain during pregnancy cannot be avoided but you want to keep your guard up no matter how tempting it is for you to give in to the 'but I am eating for 2' maximum.
Make your goal to keep weight gain as steady as possible because your baby requires a daily supply of nutrients which come from what you eat. This should always be your number one priority.