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What is healthy weight gain during pregnancy?
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Team Gabit
3 months ago | 5 mins

What is healthy weight gain during pregnancy?


Discover the aspects of healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Understand the reasons behind weight gain, guidelines on the right amount of weight and practical tips to manage it.

Pregnancy is an exciting and life-changing experience for women, quite literally. It involves both physical and emotional changes to nurture and create a life that resides within. These include hormonal fluctuations, cravings and most prominently - weight gain. While much attention is often directed towards discussions on weight management and postpartum weight loss, it is important to understand the special relevance of healthy weight increase during pregnancy. A healthy weight gain during pregnancy is not only recommended for expecting mothers but also essential for the unborn child's health.

In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of weight gain during this period tracing its reasons and average weight gain during pregnancy. Recognising the physiological requirements of generating and maintaining life is essential to comprehending the dynamics of weight growth during pregnancy, something which goes beyond simple numerical values on a scale. With this comprehensive guide, expectant mothers can navigate through their maternal journey with ease.

know healthy weight gain during pregnancy

What’s causing the weight gain?

Gaining weight during pregnancy is a natural and necessary aspect of the mother's journey. It helps the baby grow and develop and gets the mother's body ready for nursing and birthing. Pregnancy causes an overall rise in weight due to several factors:

  • Foetal Development: It doesn’t come as a surprise that the growth and development of the foetus account for a sizable amount of the weight gained throughout pregnancy. This includes the baby's weight, the placenta, the amniotic fluid, and the elevated blood volume.
  • Placenta: The placenta is a vital organ that develops during pregnancy and is vital to the growth and development of the foetus. It acts as a lifeline between the mother and the foetus by providing it with nutrients and oxygen.
  • Amniotic fluid: This fluid envelops and cushions the developing embryo inside the womb. As a pregnancy continues, the amount of amniotic fluid increases, leading to weight gain.
know healthy weight gain during pregnancy
  • Uterus enlargement: One of the main causes of weight gain is the uterus's increasing size and weight. The uterus grows to make room for the growing foetus as the baby continues to get bigger. 
  • Maternal fat: To meet the energy needs of labour, lactation, and the postpartum period, the body naturally stores more fat throughout pregnancy.
  • Increase in blood volume: The mother and the unborn child have expecting demands. To fulfil those demands, the body undergoes a rise in blood volume during pregnancy. This rise adds to the total growth in weight.
  • Breast tissue enlargement: To prepare for nursing, the breasts go through changes. This results in an increase in size and the growth of tissue that produces milk, which adds to the overall healthy weight gain in pregnancy.
  • Fluid Retention: A slight retention of fluid in some pregnant women may cause a brief weight gain.
know healthy weight gain during pregnancy

Is weight gain important during pregnancy?

Appropriate weight gain during pregnancy is vital for a healthy maternal journey. This is because weight added to the body from the baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, and increased blood volume, all contribute significantly to the infant's growth. Sufficient weight gain supports the construction of organs, bones, and tissues in the foetus by supplying vital nutrients. Maternal weight gain also acts as a buffer against the energy demands of childbirth, lactation, and the postpartum period. 

Reaching a healthy weight growth aids in the avoidance of complications like low birth weight, premature birth, and problems with development. Additionally, it aids in the physiological changes that the mother experiences during pregnancy, including the uterus' growth and the formation of breast tissue necessary for nursing. 

know healthy weight gain during pregnancy

How much weight should you gain during pregnancy?

The appropriate weight gain during pregnancy varies based on various factors, including the mother's pre-pregnancy weight, overall health, and whether she is carrying one or more infants (multiple pregnancies). These suggestions are set to maximise the mother's and the developing child's health. 

According to the Institute of Medicine, here is a general guideline on healthy weight gain during pregnancy 

For a  pregnancy carrying one baby:

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5): Recommended weight gain is about 13 to 18 kg.
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9): Recommended weight gain is about 11 to 16 kg.
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9): Recommended weight gain is about 7 to 11 kg.
  • Obese (BMI 30 or higher): Recommended weight gain is about 5 to 9 kg.

Average weight gain during pregnancy with more than one baby:

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5): Recommended weight gain is about 4 to 7 kg.
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9): Recommended weight gain is about 17 to 26 kg.
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9): Recommended weight gain is about 15 to 23 kg.
  • Obese (BMI 30 or higher): Recommended weight gain is about 11 to 20 kg.
know healthy weight gain during pregnancy

How to manage weight during pregnancy

Weight gain during pregnancy might cause some women to become conscious of their bodies. However, healthy weight gain during pregnancy and weight management is important to support the well-being and optimal growth and development of the mother and child. Here are some tips to manage weight during pregnancy:

  • Balanced diet: Expecting mothers should make an effort to eat a well-balanced diet that consists of a range of foods high in nutrients, such as whole grains, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. Further, eating the necessary amounts of important nutrients, such as calcium, iron, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids, each day becomes important.
  • Regular and safe exercise: Engaging in regular, moderate exercise advised by your doctor helps to manage weight. This could be yoga, walking or swimming.
  • Managing cravings: Cravings are extremely common during pregnancy. Replacing them with healthier options has proven helpful.
  • Adequate sleep: Inadequate sleep disrupts hormonal balance and leads to overeating. Make obtaining adequate sleep a priority.
  • Seeking emotional support: Emotional support offers understanding and comfort to an expecting mother. It aids in reducing stress and improving well-being.

What percentage of women had pregnancy weight gain within recommendations?

The percentage of women who had healthy weight gain during pregnancy may vary due to a lot of factors. Studies have suggested that about 30–40% of expectant mothers gain weight in compliance with health organisations' recommendations, like the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) standards. 48% of pregnant women gained weight above the guidelines and 21% gained weight below the guidelines.

know healthy weight gain during pregnancy

Conclusion

Pregnancy is a special and transformative experience. Healthy weight gain during this period is vital to the health of the mother and unborn child. Positive and empowered motherhood is influenced by balancing the act of exercise, nutrition, and emotional support. It is important to remember that there is no set standard approach to pregnancy. 

Medical specialists are essential in helping women reach a healthy weight increase within advised bounds. The journey for the healthier start of a new family member begins with mindfulness, self-care, and a network of support. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a healthy weight gain during pregnancy?

A woman gains weight during pregnancy because of the weight of the baby and to carry other physiological functions. The weight gained during pregnancy depends upon the woman’s BMI. However, the average weight gain during pregnancy is between 10 to 12 kilos.

Why is healthy weight gain important during pregnancy?

Gaining healthy weight during pregnancy is important for the development of the foetus. Lowering the chance of difficulties and assisting the mother's physiological changes, ensures a happy pregnancy and the long-term health of the mother and child. Gaining less than the recommended weight is linked with delivering a baby that is too small.

How often should I weigh myself during pregnancy?

It is recommended that you weigh yourself using the same scale at the same time every day, preferably in the morning. Track measures every week and wear the same clothes or nothing at all.

Does pregnancy weight gain affect the baby’s weight?

Pregnancy weight gain plays a role in influencing the baby’s weight at birth. The growth and development of the unborn child are closely correlated with the mother's weight gain throughout pregnancy. A baby born with a lower birth weight may pose health risks due to insufficient weight during pregnancy. Conversely, an excessive increase in weight could result in a greater birth weight and raise the possibility of delivery-related problems.

What role do vitamins and minerals play in pregnancy weight gain?

Vitamins and minerals do not directly influence weight gain but are essential for supporting a healthy pregnancy. Adequate consumption of minerals such as calcium, iron, and folic acid is necessary for the mother's health as well as the development of the baby's organs. 

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