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Weight Control and Pregnancy
How Much Weight to Gain During Healthy Pregnancy
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Short Articles About Weight and Diet For New Mothers
Diet Advice - Pregnancy - Dietary Advice Pregnancy (UK) - Diet Nutrition - Pregnancy
Healthy Diet and Eating Habits During Pregnancy - What Extra Calories Are Needed - Weight Gain During Pregnancy - What's Best?
How Much Weight Should You Gain in Pregnancy? - Effects of Weight Gain on Mother & Child - Exercises in Pregnancy
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Weight Control During Pregnancy

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Weight gain during pregnancy should be gradual with the most weight being gained in the last trimester. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you should gain about 2 to 4 pounds during the first three months of pregnancy and then 3 to 4 pounds per month for the rest of your pregnancy. Total weight gain should be about 25 to 30 pounds. This will decrease the risk of delivering a low-birth-weight baby. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women who have a low Body Mass Index (BMI) - the ration of weight to height - should gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy and women who have a higher BMI should gain 15 to 25 pounds. Check with your doctor to determine how much weight gain during pregnancy is healthy for you.

Weight Gain for You and For Baby

Weight gained includes 6 to 8 pounds for the weight of the baby. The remaining weight consists of a higher fluid volume, larger breasts, larger uterus, amniotic fluid, and the placenta. Make sure to visit your doctor throughout your pregnancy for an assessment of your weight gain. Your doctor can make recommendations about how much weight you should be gaining to ensure that your pregnancy is progressing smoothly and that you are getting the right amount of nutrients.

Reasonable Weight Gain is Healthy

Women who do not gain enough weight have an increased risk for delivering babies with low birth weights (less than 2500 gm, or 5.52 pounds). The National Institutes of Health considers low birth weight (LBW) a major public health problem in the United States. LBW is a major cause of infant mortality, as well as many childhood developmental, physical, and psychological problems.

Too Much Weight Gain is Unhealthy

Gaining too much weight can also be a problem. It can make pregnancy an unpleasant experience, causing backache, leg pain, varicose veins, and fatigue. It may lead to hypertension and diabetes. Excess weight may also be difficult to lose after delivery.

Too much weight gain may also cause problems for the baby. Technically, an overweight baby is one who weighs more than 4500 gm, or 9.9 lbs. Large babies make vaginal deliveries difficult, increasing the the risk for cesarean section. There is also an association between birth weight and adult weight: overweight babies are more likely to be overweight later in life.

Too much weight gain is often caused by fluid and fat being stored in the body as a result of eating too much salty or spicy food. Women who are gaining too much weight should follow the guidelines for healthy eating, avoiding salt and junk food, and consult a doctor, midwife, or dietician.

How Much Weight Should You Gain

Your doctor can advise you on how much weight you should gain. Meanwhile, the following table provides recommended weight gains based on a woman’s body mass index (BMI) at the beginning of the pregnancy. Body mass index measures the weight-to-height ratio. See Body Mass Index

For women whose BMI is normal, the recommended weight gain over the course of the pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds. Women who are underweight, or have a low BMI, should gain more weight, and women who are overweight, or have a high BMI, should gain less.

Body Mass Index
Start of Pregnancy
Weight Gain
Low BMI < 19 28-40 pounds
Normal BMI 19-25.9 25-35 pounds
Overweight BMI 26-29.9 15-25 pounds
Obese BMI 30+ 15 pounds

When Does Weight Gain Occur in Pregnancy

Generally, little weight is gained during the first trimester (3 or 4 lbs.). The most weight (about 12 to 14 lbs.) is gained during the second trimester. In the third trimester, a woman should expect to gain about 8 to 10 lbs.

Weight and Pregnancy - How Many Extra Calories Do You Need

A pregnancy takes about 300 extra calories a day to maintain, and an average-sized woman can expect to gain between 25 and 35 pounds overall. (FDA). But note that a baked potato has 120 calories, so getting those extra 300 calories should not be that difficult. On the other hand, do not reduce calories below your healthy level. Otherwise you might not get the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals that are necessary to properly nourish your unborn baby.

Healthy Eating and Diet During Pregnancy

The best approach is to eat a nutrient-dense diet from all major food groups and avoid 'empty calories' in refined sugars and junk food. Healthy eating helps ensure that the baby will have a healthy birth weight and will not be born with infections or other problems, reduces the risk for premature birth, builds up fats and fluids for use during breastfeeding, and reduces the risk of for complications during pregnancy. It is also important that women continue to eat well after the birth, especially if the baby is breastfeeding.

Is it Difficult to Lose Weight After Pregnancy

It can be if there is too much weight gain. During pregnancy, fat deposits may increase by more than a third of the total amount a woman had before she became pregnant. If the weight gain was normal, most women lose this extra weight in the birth process and in the weeks and months after birth. Breastfeeding helps to deplete the fat deposited during pregnancy. A woman who breastfeeds expends at least 500 more calories than one who doesn’t. The woman who nurses her baby also has increased needs for specific nutrients, and should not be on a weight loss diet.

Why do I Get Morning Sickness and Nausea, and What Can I do About it?

Morning sickness and nausea are common to about 70% of pregnant women. Most nausea occurs during the early part of pregnancy and, in most cases, will subside once you enter the second trimester. The changes in your body might cause you to become nauseous or sick when you smell or eat certain things, when you are tired or stressed, or for no apparent reason at all. For some women, it might last longer than the early stages of pregnancy or even throughout the entire nine months.

Is it safe for me to exercise during pregnancy?

It is probably safe but you should check with your doctor first. Although some questions have been asked about the effects of exercise on pregnant women, there is no proof that gentle exercise has any bad effects on pregnancy. Studies haven’t shown any benefits for the baby, but gentle exercise might help you feel better and maintain your weight.

What types of exercise are best when I’m pregnant?

The most comfortable exercises are the ones that don’t require your body to bear extra weight. Swimming and stationary cycling can be continued throughout pregnancy. Walking and low-impact aerobics are usually well tolerated. You and your doctor should decide what is best for you and the baby.

What should I be careful about when it comes to exercising?

Be careful to avoid activities that increase your risk of falls or injury, such as contact sports or vigorous sports. Even mild injuries to the "tummy’ area can be serious when you’re pregnant. After 3 months of pregnancy, it is best to avoid exercising while lying on your back, since the weight of the baby may interfere with blood circulation. Also avoid long periods of standing.

When the weather is hot, exercise in the early morning or late evening to help you avoid getting overheated. If you’re exercising indoors, make sure the room has enough ventilation. Consider using a fan to help keep yourself cool. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet. Normally, pregnancy increases your food requirements by at least 300 calories a day, even without exercise.

Source: Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services.

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