How Much Pregnancy Weight Should You Gain?
by Julianne Deveraux
How to determine a pregnancy weight gain goal that's just right for you
One of the most important preparations you can make for a healthy baby is to eat right to gain the extra weight you'll need to support another life. But while gaining some extra pregnancy weight is essential to your pregnancy wellness and your unborn baby's development, gaining too much can be detrimental to both of you.
How Much Pregnancy Weight Should You Gain?
During your first office visit, your doctor will probably tell you how much pregnancy weight to gain during the nine months of your pregnancy. It's recommended that you gain:
If you were healthy weight before becoming pregnant (with a body mass index (BMI) of around 18.5 - 24.9).
If you're overweight or obese before becoming pregnant (with a BMI over 25).
If you're underweight (with a BMI of less than 18.5).
Try for a slow and steady pregnancy weight gain, but remember that all women gain at different rates.
During the first trimester of your pregnancy, you'll gain only about 1-4.5 pounds total.
During the second trimester of your pregnancy, you'll gain about 1 pound a week.
During the third trimester of your pregnancy, you'll gain about 1 pound a week.
All in all, by your due date, you'll probably feel that your pregnancy weight gain has been enormous -- especially since a baby weighs only about 7 pounds. What accounts for all of those added pounds? Your total pregnancy weight gain is almost equally divided between the baby (including placenta and amniotic fluid) and your body (expanded blood volume, uterus growth and enlarged breasts). Normally, there's also a little maternal fat storage, which is essential for a healthy baby.
Pregnancy Wellness: A Physical Challenge
It's important to follow your doctor's recommendation for pregnancy weight gain, because gaining either too little or too much can lead to problems. It's also important to remember that it's the quality of the foods -- not the quantity you eat -- that matters.
When a mom-to-be gains pregnancy weight appropriately, the odds are in favor of delivering a healthy baby. Your health care provider will estimate the right amount of weight for you to gain during pregnancy based on your current health and pre-pregnancy weight.
Pregnancy Wellness Challenge No. 1: Gaining Too Little Weight
The saying "You can never be too rich or too thin" doesn't apply to an expectant mom (well, at least not the "thin" part). Your growing baby needs nourishment, and you must eat enough for both of you. If you don't gain enough pregnancy weight, your baby is at risk of having a low birth weight. Low-birth-weight babies have a more difficult time thriving and are more vulnerable to health problems. So be sure to follow your doctor's pregnancy weight-gain guidelines.
Pregnancy Wellness Challenge No. 2: Gaining Too Much Weight
Some women seem to gain a little too much pregnancy weight, even though they eat wisely. But others have been known to use pregnancy as an excuse to break all their healthy eating rules. That's not a good idea. By gaining too much pregnancy weight:
You put extra stress on your heart, which is already working overtime to pump your increased blood volume.
You add stress to your joints, which pregnancy hormones have loosened and made lax.
You'll be more likely to develop backaches.
You'll make it extra-difficult to lose the weight after baby arrives -- extra weight that can cause other serious health problems.
So do your best to follow your doctor's pregnancy wellness guidelines, and eat and sleep well to ensure your healthy pregnancy weight gain!
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Women's Health: How Much Pregnancy Weight Should You Gain?