What If I Gain Too Much Or Too Little Weight
Don’t fret if your weight differs from the recommended one only slightly. Your pregnancy will, most likely, not follow the “ideal” weight gain distribution. As soon as you approach your target weight, you should be fine. Watch out for the following, though, as they might be some worrying signals:
- gaining more than three pounds in one week of the second trimester
- gaining more than two pounds in one week of the third semester
- gaining no weight at all for more than two weeks in a row during months 4 – 8.
Women who gain a lot of weight in pregnancy have a higher risk of specific health problems and complications during childbirth. For instance, they are more likely to have a hefty baby with a birth weight of over 4,000 g or 4,500 g and are more likely to need a Cesarean section. They are also more likely to have difficulties losing the extra weight after giving birth. Gaining too much weight might also cause other problems, from simple discomfort and back pain to trouble reading the ultrasound results, and even preeclampsia and premature labor.
On the other hand, if a woman doesn’t gain enough weight and doesn’t get enough different foods in pregnancy, it can harm her growing baby: babies are then often born too early or often weigh too little at birth. Gaining too little weight maybe even more dangerous for the baby as we realize that small premature infants have more problems in the neonatal intensive care units.
What Happens If You Gain Too Much Weight
Gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy means gaining just what you need to nourish your growing baby. But what happens if you go a little overboard on the Chick-fil-A shakes and fries? A little treat every once and a while may be fine, but gaining too much weight during pregnancy can increase your risk for many complications, including:
- high blood pressure and preeclampsia
- increased birth weight of the baby
- increased risk of cesarean delivery
- increased risk of you becoming obese or developing worsening obesity after pregnancy
How Do You Know How Much Weight To Gain
Pregnancy weight gain is normal, expected, and healthy because the baby, the uterus, the placenta, the amniotic fluid need to grow. Your baby’s growth and development depend on you gaining adequate weight. Pregnancy is a time to nourish yourself with healthy foods to supply enough nourishment for your baby.
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How Do The Calories Add Up
You may have heard the saying, “you’re eating for two.” Although it is true that the food you eat is nourishing two, your calorie needs only increase by about 300 per day after the first trimester. So if your goal is a healthy weight gain, keep in mind that your calorie needs don’t increase that much. Here are three examples of healthy food choices that add up to 300 calories:
- Whole-wheat English muffin with two tablespoons peanut butter
- One cup of yogurt with one cup fresh fruit
- Bowl of high-fiber cereal with reduced-fat or skim milk
What Is The Recommended Weight Gain During Pregnancy
What weight you should be gaining during your pregnancy depends on what pre-pregnancy BMI category you fall into. These are the recommendations for each BMI category:
Underweight: 28-40 lbs.
Overweight: 15-25 lbs.
Obese: 11-20 lbs.
Unfortunately, many women do not gain enough weight during pregnancy. A recent study done in Ireland found that 28% of pregnant women were underweight. The study also showed that the majority of pregnant women are gaining an inadequate amount of weight. This can lead to a number of problems for both the mother and the baby.
Some of the problems that can occur if you dont gain enough weight during pregnancy include:
- You are more likely to have a premature birth.
- You are more likely to have a low birth weight baby.
- Your baby is more likely to have a birth defect.
- You are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
- You are more likely to have a miscarriage.
- Your baby is more likely to die during or shortly after childbirth.
Clearly, it is important for pregnant women to gain the recommended amount of weight during their pregnancies. Gaining enough weight increases the chances that your baby will be born healthy.
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Weight Gain Is Essential For A Healthy Pregnancy
Learning to eat well and manage your weight gain are key components to a healthy pregnancy. Weight gain helps your baby to grow and develop properly, and allows your body to make physical changes to support pregnancy, such as growth of your uterus, development of the placenta and an increase in blood volume. But how much weight is the right amount to gain? When determining a weight-gain range, some important things to consider are: your pre-pregnancy weight for height, commonly referred to as your Body Mass Index , your medical history, and whether you’re carrying one baby, twins or multiples.
What Happens If You Dont Gain Enough Weight
Not gaining enough weight can also put you at just as much risk as gaining too much weight. If you dont gain enough weight during pregnancy, youre at increased risk for the following:
- increased risk of fetal growth restriction
Fetal growth restriction is a more serious condition that could lead to increased risks of prematurity, fetal distress, decreased ability of baby to maintain body temperature, low blood sugar, low blood calcium, impaired immune function, smaller size later in childhood and neurodevelopmental abnormalities, Dr. Foos said.
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What Does It Mean If I Am Below A Healthy Weight Range
Gaining too little weight during pregnancy can increase your risk of going into labour too early, having a baby that is smaller than expected and having problems breastfeeding your baby. It can also increase the risk of obesity and diabetes in your child. If you are concerned about your weight, talk to your GP, health professional or enrol in the Get Healthy in Pregnancy Program to receive advice from a health coach.
Why Is It Important
Gaining too much weight in pregnancy can affect the mothers health. Excess weight gain has been linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes in pregnancy, high blood pressure, and complications during birth.
It can also affect the health of the baby in both the short-term and in the future. In a review of one million pregnancies, mothers who gained too much weight in pregnancy were more likely to have babies with a high birth weight compared to other mothers. Children of the mothers who gained too much weight were then at a higher risk of becoming obese as a child or adult.
Excess pregnancy weight gain can also make it more challenging to lose weight after the baby is born. Our recent study showed that women who gained more weight than recommended retained, on average, an extra 4kg six months after their baby was born. Of concern is that this extra weight can still be retained decades after pregnancy. Not shifting those extra few kilos after pregnancy increases the chances of developing obesity in the future.
Its important for women not to try and lose weight during pregnancy.
Its important for women not to try and lose weight during pregnancy. Dieting or limiting food intake could mean the baby doesnt get enough nutrients needed for their development.
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What If I Don’t Know How Much I Weighed Before Being Pregnant
It doesn’t have to be exact. Try and estimate your pre-pregnancy weight as best you can or ask your GP or health professional what they think it was. If you are below 14 weeks you should only have put on 2 kg, so this is a good place to start.
Don’t have scales? Ask your midwife or doctor to be weighed at each antenatal visit
Why Do You Gain Weight During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can lead to changes in many of your daily routines and habits, including what you eat and how much exercise you get. But most of all: women’s bodies change during pregnancy to ensure that their unborn child gets enough food and other things they need. These changes already start happening in early pregnancy and become more and more noticeable as time goes on. Women gain more weight in the final months of pregnancy than they do in the first few months .
There are various reasons women gain weight during pregnancy and many different body areas where they gain it. First, of course, is the baby itself. Then there are the changes to your body that support your pregnancy and what will happen after childbirth. You gain fat, which your body is going to use to store nutrients for breastfeeding your breasts increase , and you gain weight from your enlarged uterus, placenta, and amniotic fluid. The rest of your weight gain comes from the increased blood and body fluid.
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Dont Worry Too Much If Youre Not Gaining In The First Trimester
Spending more time tightening your pants than loosening them in the first trimester? You might be wondering if losing or maintaining your weight is a red flag.
The good news? Not gaining any weight during the first trimester doesnt mean anythings wrong. In fact, losing a few pounds in the first half of your pregnancy is a common occurrence .
If you havent experienced morning sickness, consider yourself lucky. Feeling nauseous and experiencing occasional vomiting at any time of the day may cause you to maintain your weight or lose a few pounds. Fortunately, this typically subsides in the second and third trimester.
Pursing your lips at the sight of your favorite plate of scrambled eggs and bacon is also common in the first trimester. I often joke with my patients and tell them that they might have food aversions in the first trimester, but then will overcompensate in the second and third trimester by having food cravings out of character for them outside of pregnancy, says Lipeles.
If youre experiencing vomiting or food aversions, make sure to share this information with your OB-GYN at your routine visits. Its important to keep them in the loop, especially if youre losing weight. Weight loss means the body is in a breakdown mode and is stressed, which leads to a deficiency in nutrients, says Felice Gersh, MD, an OB-GYN at Integrative Medical Group of Irvin, where shes the founder and director.
And you do need to be cautious of experiencing notable weight loss.
Pregnancy Weight Gain: How Much Weight Is Healthy To Gain
During pregnancy, gaining an ideal weight is different for every pregnant person. There is no such magic number of how many pounds you should gain. It is said, too little weight or too much weight is not healthy for you or your baby. The weight you gain during your pregnancy affects your health after your pregnancy which in turn can affect your baby’s health right into their adult years.
The recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy are based on your pre-pregnancy weight and Body mass index . Putting on the recommended amount of weight in pregnancy is associated with optimizing health outcomes for you and your baby, you are more likely to be well-nourished, your baby will be more likely to grow to an appropriate size, and you’ll have an easier time carrying your baby to term and returning to your pre-pregnancy weight.
A woman should gain 10 to 14 kg during pregnancy, an average of 12 kg, in order to elevate the likelihood of giving birth to a healthy baby, with less risk of fetal and maternal complications. Generally, women who were at a healthy weight before becoming pregnant need between 2,200 calories and 2,900 calories a day when expecting. A steady increase in calories as the baby grows is the best bet.
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Pregnancy Weight Gain: How Much Can I Expect To Gain And Does It Matter
In a society where a lot of emphasis is placed on a womans looks and appearances, its no wonder that weight gain during pregnancy is such a touchy subject.
Prenatal weight gain may be one of the most sensitive topics around pregnancy, so much so that some prenatal healthcare providers dont take the time to talk about it, leaving many in the dark about how much weight gain is right for them.
On the other hand, if weight gain recommendations are shared, theyre not always shared in a supportive way and do not necessarily come with advice about how to achieve those goals .
A 2018 review of 54 studies on weight communication in prenatal healthcare found that a discussion of prenatal weight gain did NOT happen for the majority of pregnant clients. Its highly variable with studies reporting a range of anywhere from 9.5% to upwards of 83% of pregnant clients reporting having had this discussion. Moreover, when it was discussed, the weight goals given were inconsistent and not necessarily evidence-based. Oy!
So, I think its time to talk about pregnancy weight gain and in a nuanced, non-judgemental way. This post will cover pregnancy weight gain guidelines, whether research supports such ranges, and when/how it makes sense to discuss weight gain during pregnancy.
So How Do I Gain The Right Amount Of Weight During Pregnancy
I sincerely hope that your takeaway from this article is NOT to nitpick the numbers on the scale. My hope is that this information provides you with a loose framework to set your expectations on how much weight gain is associated with optimal pregnancy outcomes for you and baby.
It comes down to this: The better you nourish yourself, the better you will nourish your growing baby.
In my experience working with hundreds and hundreds of pregnant women directly and now hearing from tens of thousands who have used my books to guide their pregnancies, your body will gain the appropriate amount of weight for you given that it is provided balanced nutrition, blood sugar levels are maintained in the normal range, and some light to moderate activity is continued through pregnancy.
When it comes to nutrition, the top three things that help your body gain the right amount of weight for you are:
- Eat adequate amounts protein
- Choose low-glycemic carbohydrates
- Eat mindfully
I can say a heck of a lot more about healthy eating in pregnancy, but thats why I wrote books on these topics. Real Food for Pregnancy would be the best place to go for this information.
When it comes to exercise, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials from 2019 found that in women who exercised on average 30-45 minutes 3 days a week, there was a significantly lower risk of gaining excessive weight in pregnancy. For more on safe exercise in pregnancy, see Ch 8 of Real Food for Pregnancy.
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What Are The Risks Of Gaining Too Much Or Too Little Weight In Pregnancy
The reason that we have weight gain guidelines in the first place is that there can be risks associated with lower or higher-than-expected weight gain, although keep in mind that there are no absolutes.
Studies have shown that gaining above the guidelines during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of adverse pregnancy outcomes for both the mother and baby, including higher rates of:
- Gestational diabetes
- Shoulder dystocia
- Neonatal hypoglycemia
Risks of too little weight gain include higher risk of:
- Preterm birth
- Low birthweight
Some of the above risks also hold true for women who start their pregnancies at either very low or very high BMIs, though they are mitigated with pregnancy weight gain within the guidelines. Id defer to the newer research column in the chart above over the Institute of Medicine goals to minimize the risks.
In other words, women with a prepregnancy BMI < 18.5 have fewer pregnancy complications with weight gain that is higher than the current Institute of Medicine recommendations. Women with BMI > 30 have fewer pregnancy complications with weight gain that is lower than the current Institute of Medicine recommendations.
Body Image During Pregnancy
If you have struggled with your weight in the past, it may be hard to accept that it is OK to gain weight now. It is normal to feel anxious as the numbers on the scale edge up.
Keep in mind that you need to gain weight for a healthy pregnancy. The extra pounds will come off after you have had your baby. However, if you gain a lot more weight than is recommended, your baby will also be bigger. That can sometimes lead to problems with delivery. A healthy diet and regular exercise are your best ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.
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Average Pregnancy Weight Gain Chart
- 7 1/2 pounds is about how much the baby will weigh by the end of pregnancy.
- 1 1/2 pounds is how much the placenta weighs.
- 4 pounds is attributed to increased fluid volume.
- 2 pounds is the weight of the uterus.
- 2 pounds is the weight of breast tissue.
- 4 pounds is because of increased blood volume.
- 7 pounds is attributed to maternal stores of fat, protein, and other nutrients.
- 2 pounds for the amniotic fluid.
- Total: 30 pounds
On a trimester basis in a woman with normal pre-pregnancy weight:
- First trimester: 1-4.5 pounds
- Second trimester: 1-2 pounds per week
- Third trimester: 1-2 pounds per week
Remember this is just an average you and your health care provider need to decide what is best for you.
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