Weight gain during pregnancy. Advice. Chart. FAQs

Many women are concerned about the question: «How much weight can I gain during pregnancy to quickly return to my norm after childbirth?»

Weight gain during pregnancy

It is obvious that a woman should gain weight during pregnancy. However, many physicians say that expectant mothers should not «eat for two». That’s why many women do not eat enough, as they have fear of excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Lack of necessary elements and lack of body mass can lead to numerous problems during pregnancy, difficult childbirth and the birth of underweight and weak children. Women, who gain weight within norms, usually carry the pregnancy and give birth easier. They rarely have miscarriages.

Children who weigh more at birth are usually healthier; they also better resist common diseases and infections. However, in women, who put on much weight, diabetes may develop. It is important to check the urine for sugar regularly.

Overeating and excessive weight are very unhealthy. They make it difficult to define the size and weight of the fetus. Excessive weight causes pain in the sacrum and in the legs, increases fatigue and may provoke varicose veins. In an obese woman, a fetus may grow to such a size that natural birth will be difficult or impossible. Different complications can happen after cesarean section, and after it, it’s much more difficult to lose weight.

Sometimes the weight gain of the mother does not correspond to the child’s weight at birth. You can increase the weight by 20 kg, and give birth to a baby weighing less than 3 kg.

Excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

If there is excessive weight gain during pregnancy, it may become a problem both for a pregnant woman and a fetus:

  • excessive weight causes late toxicosis — a very unhealthy state of pregnant women;
  • excessive weight may lead to a miscarriage;
  • obese pregnant women often feel pain in the lower back and abdomen;
  • premature labor or premature detachment of the placenta is possible in severe cases;
  • extra weight loads the muscles — back and calf muscles suffer most of all;
  • excessive weight during pregnancy leads to swelling in legs, anterior abdominal wall, and hands.
  • disrupt blood circulation in veins may lead to varicose veins;
  • a woman often gets tired and irritated.
  • the fetus may suffer from oxygen starvation.

What is normal weight gain during pregnancy?

Normal weight gain during pregnancy — 7−16 kg (15 — 35lbs). If a woman is fragile, her normal weight gain can be up to 12 kg (26lbs), and for large women — 17 kg (37lbs). Women, who are pregnant with twins, will gain 14 to 22 kg (30 -48lbs), which is the norm.

The weight you gain during pregnancy depends on several factors. One of them is your weight just before pregnancy. Underweight women often gain more weight during pregnancy and obese — less. If your weight was normal before pregnancy, then most likely you’ll put on something between 7 (15lbs) and 16 kg (35lbs), i.e. 11 — 12kg (25lbs).

Where does extra weight go?

In the first months of pregnancy, a woman must accumulate a layer of adipose tissue to prepare for milk production and breastfeeding. This fat reserve remains after childbirth. It usually disappears in several months if a woman breastfeeds and does gymnastics. The weight goes not only into adipose tissue. More than half of extra weight goes into the placenta, amniotic fluid, and the baby. Let’s count average weight gain:

  • fetus — 3400 g (7.5 pounds);
  • placenta — 650 g (1,43 pound);
  • amniotic fluid — 800 g (76 pound);
  • uterus (increases in size during pregnancy) — 970 g (2.14 pounds);
  • mammary glands (increase in size during pregnancy) — 405 g (0.89 pounds);
  • increase in blood volume 1450 g (3.2 pounds);
  • increase in extracellular fluid — 1480 g (3.26 pounds);
  • adipose tissue — 2345 g (5.17 pounds).

Total: 11 500 g = 11,5 kg = 25,35 pounds

The body mass index.

In order to determine whether your weight before pregnancy is excess, low or normal for your growth a special body mass index (BMI) is used.

Body mass index = weight in kg / height in meters* height in meters

Example: your height 1.70 m, your weight 60 kg, your BMI= 60/1.7*1.7=20.7

If before pregnancy your BMI was less than 20, this means that you had low body weight before pregnancy. Most likely you will put on more than 25 pounds during your pregnancy. The recommended weight increase for you is 13−16 kg (28 -35 pounds).

If BMI before pregnancy is between 20−27, it corresponds to a normal weight. In this case, the recommended gain for pregnancy is 10−14 kg (22 -30 pounds).

If your BMI before pregnancy is more than 27 — you are overweight. If more than 29 — you suffer from obesity, but this does not mean that you should starve during pregnancy, trying to lose weight. Attempts to lose weight during pregnancy can have a negative impact on the prenatal development of the baby. Therefore, even if a woman has excess weight, she needs to gain a few pounds during pregnancy, usually about 7 kg (15 pounds).

Which is normal weight gain in each trimester of pregnancy?

The average weight gain in the first trimester of pregnancy is 1.5−2 kg (3.3 — 4.4 pounds). In the second trimester, you will gain up to 6−7 kg (13.2 — 15.4 pounds). During the 7th and 8th months of pregnancy — 0.5 kg (1 pound) per week. In the 9th month of pregnancy, you will lose 0.5 kg (1 pound) per week- so the overall increase in the third trimester is 4−5 kg (8.8 — 11 pounds).

Weight gain percentage during pregnancy.

  • 0 — 12 weeks 10%;
  • 13 — 20 weeks 25%;
  • 21 — 28 weeks 45%;
  • 29 to 36 weeks 20%;
  • 37 — 40 weeks 0%.

Healthy weight gain norm. Week by week chart.

Week of pregnancyBMI < 20(total gainin pounds — lb)BMI 20 — 26(total gainin pounds — lb)BMI > 26(total gainin pounds — lb)

When do I need a doctor’s consultation on weight gain during pregnancy?

If your weight is within normal limits and there are no sudden jumps up and down — everything is ok! You should consult your physician if:

  • your weight gain is significantly different from the above norm;
  • you haven’t gained weight within 8 weeks in the first trimester;
  • you have gained more than 1.5 kg a week in the second trimester;
  • you have gained more than 1 kg a week in the third trimester;
  • you haven’t gained weight during two weeks in the second or third trimester.

Important! The figures given are not absolute indicators and a strict rule to follow, evaluating the increase of body weight during pregnancy. Only a doctor can define what is normal for you.

Pregnancy weight gain FAQs

1. Should a pregnant woman eat for two?

During pregnancy, a number of calories consumed should be increased, but this does not mean that you must eat for two. In the first three months of pregnancy, you need additional 100 calories per day. In the next six months of pregnancy, your energy requirement increases to 300 calories per day in addition to your usual diet.

2. Will it be easier to return to my normal weight, if I gain fewer pounds during pregnancy?

No. Recent studies have shown that the percentage of women who succeed to return to their original weight doesn’t depend on the weight they have gained. It is obvious that women, who breastfeed their babies, lose weight gained during pregnancy easier and quicker.

3. What does belly size during pregnancy depend on?

Belly and uterus height depends on the period of pregnancy. For example, during the 32nd week of pregnancy, your belly height must be 32−33 cm. However, the belly size depends on the individual characteristics of a woman. Sometimes anatomical structure matters: petite women with narrow pelvis more often have protruded bellies in comparison with tall women with curvy hips. Belly size also depends on your total weight gain during pregnancy.

4. Why do I gain weight too quickly?

Sometimes rapid weight gain means just that you eat too much. However, moderation in eating does not guarantee normal pregnancy weight gain. In some women, the body accumulates too much liquid — for example, because of poorly working kidneys. Therefore, if a pregnant woman gains weight too rapidly, she should compare the amount of drunken and released fluid per day. In healthy women more fluid is released than consumed. Fluid retention in the body leads to weight gain. Not only external but also internal organs swell. Swelling of the placenta is especially dangerous: it disrupts the normal development of the fetus.

5. How can a pregnant woman prevent swelling?

The expectant mother must pay attention to the diet recommendations, which the doctor will give. As a rule, all pregnant women are recommended to limit salt consumption, as well as consumption of spicy, fried and fatty products, as they contribute to fluid retention and lead to swelling. It’s a good idea to arrange a fasting day once a week. This does not mean that a pregnant woman should starve. On fasting days, you may eat apples, cheese, yogurt and meat in strictly limited quantities. In addition, stay in bed a little longer — it improves fluid discharge from the body. Diuretic herbs also help, but first, consult your doctor. Don’t drastically limit the amount of fluid intake without consulting with a professional! You should drink at least 1.2 liters per day.

6. Does weight gain during pregnancy depend on the work of the kidneys?

Yes, it does. Weight increases rapidly if a woman suffers from urolithiasis or chronic pyelonephritis. Sometimes pyelonephritis occurs during pregnancy because of hormonal changes. The body begins to produce more hormones that stimulate urinary tract expansion. This opens gates for infections. They easily penetrate into kidneys. This is why all pregnant women should regularly have a bacteriological examination of vaginal discharge and urine monitoring.

7. What to do if I have a very large fetus and this explains the excess weight?

This may imply another problem. Very often women with diabetes have large babies. If a woman herself was born large, it is necessary to check her blood and urine sugar levels, as diabetes can occur in a latent form. Sometimes diabetes occurs during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Such pregnant women are at risk even if high sugar level was detected only once.

8. When is sudden weight gain undesirable?

Excessive weight gain is especially dangerous in the second half of pregnancy, as it leads to late toxicosis. The sooner you experience such complications, the worse the outcome of pregnancy may be. This is why women are encouraged to monitor body weight regularly, to measure blood pressure on both arms, to do urine tests. In case of late toxicities, blood pressure increases, and protein appears in the urine. If a pregnant woman has all three symptoms — swelling, high blood pressure and protein in the urine — she is urgently hospitalized.

9. Does fluid intake influence the amount of amniotic fluid?

No. The causes of excess amniotic fluid or polyhydramnion are quite different: diabetes mellitus, abnormalities of fetal development, rhesus conflict, infections. Oligohydramnios often happens in postmaturity.

10. What is better a little belly or a big one?

Insufficient weight gain often leads to disruption of fetal development and premature birth. Pregnant women need to find the Golden mean. By the way, American scientists have noticed that women, who are optimistic about their pregnancy, rarely have newborns with low birth weight.

11. Does the mood of a pregnant woman depend on the weight gain?

Some women begin to eat much in stressful situations. Therefore, it’s important for the expectant mother to stay in good mood.

Expectant mothers need to know that everything they eat during pregnancy should be useful for the baby. Your diet should include fresh, natural products — fish, meat, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. Pregnancy is the time to change your eating habits.

If you eat enough and only healthy food, you and your baby will feel good. Poor diet — chips, burgers, and candies will lead to fatigue and lethargy. Buy organic foods or at least carefully wash and clean vegetables and fruit. Cut off the peel to remove harmful chemicals.

How long will it take to return to my normal weight after pregnancy?

It depends on many factors:

  • how many pounds you gained;
  • your metabolism;
  • your lifestyle as a mom;
  • are you breastfeeding or not.

If your weight during pregnancy increased by 12 to 16 kg, you’ll lose 6−7 kg during childbirth. You’ll lose 6−10 kg more within the next 6−8 months. However, be aware of the fact that if you don’t have to be on a strict diet because of your newborn’s allergy to some products, you won’t lose much weight during the first 3 months after pregnancy.

Usually, women who breastfeed and don’t overeat lose 1,5 — 3 kg a month. Weight loss should be gradual. It is important not to forget balanced nutrition after childbirth.

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