Being pregnant is one of the times in a woman’s life where gaining weight is not only expected, it’s encouraged. But is there a particular amount of weight a pregnant woman should gain? And where does it all go? Read on to find out more about pregnancy weight gain.
Yes, you do. It’s important to the development of your baby that you gain an appropriate amount of weight. Being underweight can result in a premature delivery or a low birth weight, neither of which is ideal. However, gaining too much weight can also bring risks such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and delivery complications if your baby grows too big. As with most things in life, moderation is key when it comes to pregnancy weight gain.
Your ideal level of weight gain varies depending on your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI). To work out your BMI, try the Heart Foundation’s handy online calculator. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. If your pre-pregnancy BMI falls within this range, your overall pregnancy weight gain should be between 11.5 and 16kg. If you were underweight before becoming pregnant, you’ll need to gain a little more; between 12.5 and 18kg. Similarly, if you were overweight, then you’ll need to gain less; between 7kg and 11.5kg. A pre-pregnancy BMI of 30 or over is considered obese, and in this case, your ideal weight gain should fall between 5kg and 9kg.
During the first trimester, regardless of your pre-pregnancy BMI, you should only gain 1kg to 2kg. Most women don’t struggle with excessive weight gain during this time, as morning sickness and lack of appetite often combine to prevent overeating. In fact, some women will lose weight. As long as it’s not a dramatic loss, this is no cause for alarm.
During the second and third trimesters, you should gain an average of 400g per week. If you were underweight before pregnancy, that figure increases to 500g per week but drops to 300g per week if you were overweight. If at any stage you feel you’re gaining or losing too much weight, speak to your doctor.
When your baby is born, it’s likely to weigh somewhere around 3.5kg. Another 2kg to 3kg accounts for the baby’s home for the last 40 weeks – an enlarged uterus, placenta and amniotic fluid. A further 3kg to 4kg goes towards extra blood volume and fluid within your body. Your breasts may weigh up to 1kg more and finally, you’ll store away a few extra kilos of fat to help sustain you through the first weeks of breastfeeding.
Although you might be craving all sorts of weird and wonderful foods, proper nutrition is more important now than ever, so use common sense and don’t go overboard with anything too sugary or fatty. The National Health and Medical Research Council has produced an informative leaflet detailing what you should eat to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy with an appropriate amount of weight gain.
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