Pregnancy Weight Gain: How Much Is Normal?
Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life! Being pregnant is something a mom will remember forever: the growing belly, morning sickness, Baby’s first kicks and yes, even the dreaded weight gain throughout each trimester. Although gaining weight is normal during pregnancy, for some women keeping weight at a healthy level for nine months can be a real struggle. But what exactly is a healthy weight gain during pregnancy, and how can you possibly maintain it?
First of all, gaining weight during pregnancy is good. An expecting mother should never diet or restrict calories. Without the proper nutrients, a fetus cannot grow and thrive. In general, you should gain about 1 to 5 pounds during your first trimester of pregnancy and 1 pound a week during the rest of your pregnancy.
During the first trimester, your body doesn’t really need any extra calories. You should naturally put on up to 5 pounds thanks to all the changes taking place within your body. These changes include growing breasts, increased fluid and blood volume, and fat and protein stores. Also, because of morning sickness, some women may even lose weight in the first trimester. The important thing to remember, however, is this: Don’t obsess with numbers. Instead, pay attention to the food you’re eating.
“Weight gain during pregnancy is something expecting mothers need to pay some attention to, but they shouldn’t fixate on it. The most important thing is to care about what you’re eating rather than the number of pounds. Are you getting enough vegetables and fruits, or are you eating fast food every day?” says Katie Lorand, a CNM, MPH with Midwest Women’s Healthcare Specialists.
Although gaining too little weight while pregnant is possible, is it really possible to gain too much weight? Absolutely. About one in five women gains more than 40 pounds while pregnant. If you enter pregnancy obese and/or gain too much weight during pregnancy, you increase your risks for preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, which can lead to long-term health complications for you and Baby.
“Instead, take a look at what you’re eating and make it as healthy as possible,” Lorand says. “Make each meal a rainbow. That’s a good trick to diversify your diet. A wide variety of foods is important.”
The nutrition goal is to aim for six to 11 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Limit carbohydrates as much as possible, along with baked goods using white flours or having high sugar content. Replace these with whole foods. Include healthy fats like avocados, nut butters, seeds and lean protein in your daily menu.
Other steps you can take to meet pregnancy weight gain recommendations:
- Work with your doctor or midwife on your weight gain goals regularly throughout your pregnancy.
- Track your weight gain at the beginning and throughout your pregnancy and discuss any concerns with your health care provider.
- Exercise regularly. Try to fit in 30 minutes of exercise each day. Physical activity is safe and healthy for most pregnant women.
“Another thing you can do is download a food tracker app,” Lorand says. “There are many available. Eat what you normally eat and track your intake for up to a week. Then have the app analyze your diet for you. You’ll get feedback from this, so you can get more specifics of what you might need to eat to make it a healthier pregnancy.”
The bottom line of pregnancy weight gain is this: Don’t worry. Trust that if you’re eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise, your body will gain the perfect amount of weight for you and your baby. So instead of saying, “I’m eating for two,” tell your baby, “I’m eating for you!”
Where Does All the Weight Go? Pregnancy Weight Distribution:
- Blood Supply (increases by 50 percent): 4 lbs.
- Breast Tissue: 2-3 lbs.
- Placenta: 2-3 lbs.
- Stored Fat for Breastfeeding: 5-10 lbs.
- Amniotic Fluid: 2-3 lbs.
- Other Fluids: 4 lbs.
- Uterus: 2-5 lbs.
- Baby: 7+ lbs.
Writer/author Gina Klein resides in Kansas City with her husband, two daughters and houseful of rescued animals.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.