Are you an expectant mother? Is weight gain bothering you? Worried about the weight of the baby? Has the barrage of contradictory material online left you completely confused about what is normal and what is not? Then you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more about weight gain during pregnancy, how to calculate it, what is considered normal and what is below or above normal, what to do in case of abnormal weight gain, etc.
What is the reason for weight gain during pregnancy?
Common sense dictates that your weight increases during pregnancy because of the presence of a growing child in your womb. That’s true enough, but it doesn’t explain cases of disproportionate weight gain. How can you have a baby that barely weighs 6 pounds, and yet add 25 pounds to your own weight? Here is the answer – the baby is not alone inside the womb. There is a placenta that connects the mother and fetus. Also, the baby floats in a fluid called amniotic fluid, that adds to the pounds. Moreover, the lowered level of physical activity, coupled with increased food intake, adds to the extra pounds that you gain during pregnancy. The good news is that most of the weight gained during pregnancy is gone after delivery.
Recommended Read: The Common Changes Your Body Might Go Through During Pregnancy
Why is this weight gain?
A lot of women do not consider weight gain healthy. But that’s not entirely true. Weight gain is a necessary and inevitable part of pregnancy, as your baby is completely dependent on you for nutrients. This means that those extra pounds actually benefit the baby inside. However, excessive weight gain is not beneficial.
How much should you gain?
There is a range within which it is acceptable for pregnant women to gain weight. This range is determined based on a number of factors like genetics, culture, etc. It is only after a considerable amount of research, that the weight gain ranges have been proposed by experts.
What is the major determinant factor?
The major determinant factor is your Body Mass Index or BMI. One of the most recent approaches is to calculate your weight gain based on the body mass index.
How to use BMI to calculate weight gain during pregnancy?
Here are few simple steps to use BMI for calculating weight gain – Calculate your BMI using a BMI calculator online or speak to your doctor. You will be using your height and weight to calculate this. Then check if it falls in the healthy range.
- If your BMI is <18.5, you are underweight.
- If your BMI is 18.5-24.9, you are normal weight.
- If your BMI is 25-29.9, you are overweight.
- If your BMI is 30-34.9, you are obese class I.
- If your BMI is 35-39.9, you are obese class II.
- If your BMI is >40, you are obese class III.
This BMI will tell a lot of things. If you are underweight, the chances of giving birth to a low birth weight baby and very low birth weight baby are high. On the other hand, maternal obesity may lead to serious problems in the fetus like congenital heart problems, childhood obesity, metabolic problems, psychosocial problems, etc.
If you feel that you are not in the right range, then you can visit your physician who will begin by evaluating various factors to help you have a normal pregnancy.
What is the weight gain pattern for women in different BMI categories?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend the following guidelines:
- If you are overweight, you should gain weight in the range of 15 to 25 pounds.
- Obese women of over 30 BMI should gain between 11 and 20 pounds.
- Pregnant women with higher BMI are advised to go for exercises (good trainer is advised to customize exercises for you).
- Good nutritional intake should be suggested after consulting dietician or nutritionist.
- Any women with overweight and above should be regularly tested for gestational diabetes mellitus unless otherwise proved during the first prenatal visit.
- Repeated evaluation and monitoring of blood glucose is advised throughout pregnancy.
- A cardiac evaluation is advised for women with pre-existing comorbid conditions or having BMI>35.
The healthy weight gain pattern
If you are in the healthy weight range, then you should gain somewhere between 25 to 35 pounds, taking all trimesters into account. The weight gain should be gradual and consistent and should be spread around the entire pregnancy. There will be a weight gain of five pounds during the first trimester, adding one pound for every week of pregnancy for the rest of the period.
What to do if I am not in the normal weight gain category?
The best option is to reach out to a physician who can help you with pregnancy, diet, nutrition, exercise, and also monitor other parameters. Your doctor will initially evaluate your blood parameters, height, weight, BMI, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc. You will then be monitored regularly. If you are in the high-risk range, more visits to the clinic are required. A proper diet and nutrition plan will be chartered exclusively for you. Then all the parameters will be repeatedly measured to detect any abnormalities. As the pregnancy progresses, the frequency of visits to the doctor will increase. The chances of having a C-section are higher if you are overweight or obese.
If you follow the aforementioned suggestions properly, you will definitely have a healthier pregnancy.
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