Oh, how many times have I seen women concerned about their weight gain from their very first visit? Of course, you have to be aware of the foods you eat, but it’s normal that your appetite increases during pregnancy. Sometimes women will limit their food consumption because they’re scared of gaining too much weight. Pregnancy will always lead to weight gain in all women because needs increase as the pregnancy progresses. During the 2nd trimester, you should increase your calories by about 350/day to meet requirements, and during the 3rd, about 450/day. You should meet these needs by consuming proteins, vitamins and minerals.
Not gaining weight or constantly losing weight during pregnancy can lead to severe risks for the pregnant woman and future baby. For example, toxicity risks (accumulation of ketone bodies) are possible, which can harm the fetus’s development.
During pregnancy monitoring, weight is an important issue. The information in this article covers a single pregnancy because multiple pregnancies have different recommendations. Every woman is unique, and weight gain can vary from one to another, and even between two different pregnancies for the same woman.
One thing is certain, you have to expect to gain a minimum of 10 pounds, even when a woman’s weight significantly exceeds her healthy weight.
Recommended weight gain during pregnancy depends on what you weighed before becoming pregnant (pregestational weight). The weight should be taken by a doctor and not estimated by yourself. In other words, no universal standards exist for future mothers. A woman in her healthy weight interval at the start of pregnancy (calculation of body mass index [BMI]) will tend to gain between 11.5 to 16 kg (25–35 lb) until childbirth. However, those who weighed above a BMI considered normal for their height will be advised to gain less weight based on their starting weight. You should expect to gain at least 10 pounds, even if a woman’s weight is significantly above her healthy weight. Logically, this means that if a future mother is below her healthy weight, she might be advised to gain up to 40 pounds to compensate for her situation.
Weight gain is evaluated during each pregnancy monitoring visit and must be progressive during the 1st trimester, a slight increase of 1–2 kg (2.2-4.5 lb). Then starting from the 15th week, weight gain should be about 500 g per week (1 lb) for the rest of the pregnancy. The extra weight won’t end up in your cheeks! 😊 It will be distributed to your baby, including your baby’s weight, your uterus and placenta, amniotic fluid and the changes in your breasts as they prepare for breastfeeding.
It’s important to understand is that if you’re overweight or underweight before pregnancy, this can lead to severe complications and will be monitored throughout your pregnancy. Mothers should learn this during prenatal classes or from their caregiver to prevent potential issues. A healthy diet, which includes the suggested number of portions found in the Food Guide, along with regular exercise usually is enough to ensure your weight gain falls within recommended intervals.
Today, increased obesity in pregnant women can double the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. These risks can include miscarriages, caesarean deliveries, diabetes, preeclampsia, hypertension, urinary infections, vaginosis, hemorrhages after childbirth, heart problems, thrombosis and difficulties with anesthetics during delivery. For the baby, these include risks for premature birth, defects (congenital anomalies), and babies with higher birth weights are predisposed to being overweight or obese in the future.
It’s essential to monitor obese women who want to become pregnant. They should take 1 mg of folic acid as early as possible, as well as vitamin D (fine in multivitamins) and receive recommendations based on their situation. During the pregnancy, diabetes screening will take place early on during the 1st trimester if their BMI is above 30. Snoring, vascular disorders and problems with anesthetics can also occur during pregnancy.
Much research has been done on weight gain during pregnancy and the developmental origins of obesity in children and adults. New “epigenetic” sciences study genes and the environment to explain certain phenomena. We know that insufficient weight gain can influence the appearance of chronic illnesses later. We also know that too much or too little weight gain during pregnancy can have an influence on the increased risk for obesity for the child later in life. This is why we advise gaining “just enough” weight. We say that a baby weighing 4 kg or more at birth will have twice the risk of obesity during their lives compared to babies born with an average weight.
Here is the average distribution of weight during pregnancy (27.4 lb or around 12.5 kg). As you can see, it doesn’t all go to your cheeks! 😊
- 7.4 lb for the baby’s weight (3,400 g)
- 7.4 lb for protein, fat and nutrient reserves (3,345 g)
- 3.2 lb for increased blood (1,450 g)
- 3.2 lb for increase liquid volume in the body (liquid retention) (1,480 g)
- 14 ounces for breast changes (420 g)
- 2.2 lb for the growing uterus (970 g)
- 1.7 lb for the amniotic fluid (800 g)
- 1.4 lb for the placenta (650 g)
Usually, on average, the baby’s weight represents a quarter of the mother’s weight gain.
In short, eating well—while fulfilling your appetite and being active—should be your daily routine, and that is why we always suggest good lifestyle habits during prenatal classes. You need to focus on lifestyle habits and not on your weight gain. Weight gain is a result, not a behaviour. The Canadian Food Guide should be used as the basis, reducing carbohydrates. Get enough physical activity. As needed use a multidisciplinary approach with a nutritionist and psychologist. Breastfeed for its benefits, and in this specific case, it helps lower the risk of obesity and diabetes for the baby.
I find it very important to inform you about this issue due to the serious problem of overweight people today.
Talk soon, everyone!
The Baby Expert
Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section.