What should you expect when you’re expecting? It’s an age-old question. Pregnancy brings so many changes to your body, including weight gain. But don’t worry – weight gain is a perfectly normal, healthy, and essential part of pregnancy. And as your pregnancy progresses, your body knows exactly what to do with the additional weight to support your little one.
If you’re wondering about how much weight you should gain during pregnancy, why healthy weight gain while pregnant is important, and how you can support healthy weight gain during pregnancy, you’re in the right place. Here’s what you can expect when it comes to pregnancy and weight gain.
How much weight should you gain during pregnancy?
During the first trimester, pregnancy weight gain is usually minimal. Most women only gain about 1-5 pounds over the course of the first 13 weeks. The second and third trimesters are a different story, though. Women who were at a healthy weight before pregnancy should aim to gain about one pound per week in the later stages of pregnancy.
The total recommended amount of weight gain during pregnancy is different for everyone, and it depends on your pre-pregnancy weight. Check out the Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines below to find out what healthy weight gain during pregnancy should look like for you. Keep in mind that these guidelines are for women having one baby. If you’re expecting twins, take a look at these recommendations.
|Weight Status Before Pregnancy||Body Mass Index (BMI) before pregnancy||Recommendations for Weight Gain|
|Underweight||Less than 18.5||28 to 40 pounds|
|Normal weight||18.5 to 24.9||25 to 35 pounds|
|Overweight||25 to 29.9||15 to 25 pounds|
|Obese||Greater than 30||11 to 20 pounds|
Is it safe to lose weight during pregnancy?
Most women shouldn’t attempt weight loss during pregnancy. However, some healthcare providers may recommend weight loss for certain women with higher pre-pregnancy weights. In these cases, weight should still be closely monitored by a healthcare professional to support a healthy pregnancy.
How is pregnancy weight gain distributed throughout the body?
The weight you gain during pregnancy serves several different purposes – it’s not all the weight of the baby, and it’s not all fat stores, either. Check out the chart below to see the many miraculous ways your body utilizes additional weight during pregnancy.
|Baby||~8 pounds. (Depends on birth weight)|
|Larger breasts||1-3 pounds|
|Larger uterus||2 pounds|
|Amniotic fluid||2 pounds|
|Increased blood volume||3-4 pounds|
|Increased fluid volume||2-3 pounds|
|Fat stores||6-8 pounds|
Why is healthy weight gain during pregnancy so important?
Healthy weight gain and a healthy pregnancy go hand in hand. Gaining too much or too little weight during pregnancy can pose some risks for you and your baby.
Women who gain more weight than recommended during pregnancy are more likely to have larger babies, which often makes delivery more difficult for the mother. There also may be a link between larger babies and childhood obesity. Gaining more weight during pregnancy may also make it more difficult to lose weight after pregnancy.
On the flip side, women who aren’t able to gain enough weight are more likely to have a baby with a low birth weight. Babies who are born too small may struggle with breastfeeding and immune health and may have trouble reaching milestones as they grow.
Will prenatal vitamins make you gain weight?
It’s time to bust this myth once and for all. No matter what you’ve heard, taking a prenatal vitamin doesn’t make you gain weight. High-quality prenatal vitamin supplements are essential to make sure you get the nutrients you need to support a healthy pregnancy.
What can you do to support healthy weight gain during pregnancy?
Consider the strategies below to help support healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
Fuel your body well. Focus on colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and plenty of water. Limit processed foods like soda, sweets, and fried snacks. While you generally don’t require any additional calories during the first trimester, you need about 340 and 450 more calories during the second and third trimesters, respectively.
Manage upset stomach during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a miraculous experience, but it’s not always butterflies and rainbows. It can bring some pretty unpleasant side effects to your gastrointestinal system.
Stay active. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week for pregnant women. Walking, swimming, stationary bicycling, and modified yoga are all great options, but if you had a workout routine you enjoyed prior to pregnancy, you can usually continue it with your healthcare provider’s approval. If you’re new to exercise, make sure you listen to your body and don’t push yourself past your limit. Begin with five minutes of physical activity and gradually work up to 30 minutes most days of the week.
Seek help if you need it. If you are struggling to gain weight or you’re concerned about your weight gain during pregnancy, visit a registered dietitian nutritionist for individualized advice.
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