One of the downsides of getting pregnant is weight gain. While some women regain their figures easily, some of us have to work hard to fit into our old clothes months after childbirth. But weight gain is not all that bad. In fact, it is an essential part of pregnancy. All women need to know how much weight gain during pregnancy is alright and when too much.
Pregnant women are notorious for their crazy food cravings. Some find pregnancy a convenient excuse to pig out on all the food “no-no’s” before pregnancy. They call this “eating for two” and gorge themselves on chocolate, junk food, and sweets. This is probably how the term “eating like a pregnant woman” came to be.
It is perfectly normal to gain weight during pregnancy. Most obstetricians say that a two-pound weight gain is ideal every month a woman is pregnant. This ensures that the baby inside gets ample vitamins and minerals he needs to grow healthy and strong even while inside the womb. In fact, some underweight women are even required to gain more weight to sustain their babies during gestation properly.
Women who gain too much weight while pregnant will usually have babies larger for their gestational age. However, overeating can be bad for both the mom and the baby. This makes it hard for mothers to have a normal delivery, and a cesarean section will be needed. Other birthing complications can also occur for women with severe weight gain during pregnancy.
What Causes Weight Gain During Pregnancy?
Much of the weight you gain during pregnancy belongs to the unborn baby. Here is a quick breakdown of the pregnancy weight gain:
- Baby: 8 pounds
- Extra blood: 4 pounds
- Uterus growth: 2-5 pounds
- Breast enlargement: 2-3 pounds
- Amniotic fluid: 2-3 pounds
- Placenta: 2-3 pounds
- Stored fat, protein, and other nutrients: 5-9 pounds
- Total: 25-35 pounds
However, the pattern of pregnancy weight gain may vary from woman to woman. You may gain more weight if you’re pregnant with twins or multiples and less if you start your pregnancy with extra weight.
Tips to Keep Your Weight Under Control During Pregnancy
Becoming “overweight” during pregnancy can be avoided easily. Weird food cravings aside, eating a healthy and balanced diet throughout pregnancy can do wonders for keeping your weight in check. While food cravings are the norm, be sure not to overindulge.
If you get a craving for some chocolate chip cookies with a side of mustard, eat some but not the whole box! Eat just enough to satisfy and control your craving. Once you’ve eaten a cookie or two, stop. Management and control are the keys to satisfy your food cravings and keep weight gain to a minimum.
Morning sickness is quite common during the first few months of pregnancy, so early on, get a list of healthy foods that you should eat while pregnant. If one kind of food makes you nauseous, find the next one you like and see if you can keep it down. Eating healthy from the start can train you to eat healthy foods from the start.
Avoid fast foods as much as you can. Fast food contains large amounts of salt and preservatives. Salt can contribute to bloating and water retention. Preservatives can contain harmful ingredients which can deter a baby’s development. So if you get a craving for some burger and fries, ask hubby to make you some from scratch instead of visiting the nearest McDonald’s.
Exercise even while pregnant. Swimming is highly recommended for pregnant women. This is something pregnant women can do even during the late third trimester. Swimming can help with breathing exercises and keep weight gain during pregnancy to a minimum by burning off the excess fat.
Should I Lose Weight During Pregnancy?
Your doctor may suggest you lose weight if you’re very overweight during pregnancy. It is highly recommended you lose weight under your doctor’s guidance. Don’t lose weight or cut the diet on your own!
What If You Gain Too Much Weight During Pregnancy?
If you’re gaining more weight than recommended while pregnant, talk to your pregnancy nutritionist and try the following tips to manage your weight gain:
- Avoid whole milk products. Instead, go for fat-free or low-fat yogurt or cheese.
- Consume fat in moderation. Try lower-fat substitutes.
- Avoid eating fast food, including breaded chicken patties, french fries, and mozzarella sticks.
- Don’t add salt to foods while cooking as it may increase water retention.
- Wear lightweight and flowy maternity dresses to camouflage weight gained during pregnancy.
- Limit your intake of sugary drinks, sweets, and high-calorie snacks. Instead, go for lower-calorie snacks and dessert choices to cut unnecessary calories.
- Exercise to burn extra calories. Walking or swimming are ideal exercises for expecting moms.
- Wear clothes designed for pregnant women to accommodate the extra weight you gained during pregnancy.
Consequences of Excess Weight Gain During Pregnancy
A pregnant woman must bear in mind that gaining more weight than recommended during pregnancy can lead to various pregnancy complications, including but not limited to:
- An increased risk of undergoing a C-section delivery
- Preterm labor
- Gestational diabetes
- Increased fatigue
- High blood pressure
- An overly big baby
- Postpartum obesity
- Leg pain and backaches
- Shoulder dystocia
- Varicose veins
- Less accurate ultrasound results
- Obesity and ongoing health issues
Obese women usually have a healthy pregnancy and deliver their child without any complications. However, they might also face certain consequences of being overweight, which a physician can address. They might also perform additional testing to ensure the good health of your child, which is always a great idea.
When to Call Your Doctor?
Talk to your doctor if you:
- Are gaining weight rapidly
- Think you’re gaining too much weight
- Are losing weight during the last two trimesters
- Have an eating disorder
- Want to know how to gain weight healthfully
- Need help setting a good diet for healthy pregnancy weight gain
The best way to ensure healthy weight gain during pregnancy is by switching to an ideal exercise regime and sticking to a low-fat diet. Just do it, and you can keep your pregnancy weight under control!