During pregnancy your body experiences changes to help your growing baby in the womb and to nourish her after birth. Weight gain is probably the most noticeable change, and while not many women enjoy watching the numbers on their scale moving up, when your little wonder is the reason for your weight gain, it’s actually a very good thing! Just be sure to follow your doctor’s guidelines for healthy pregnancy weight gain, to help make sure you’ll be well on your way to a healthy delivery and a healthy bundle of joy.
Why Do You Gain Weight?
What accounts for your weight gain during pregnancy? Your total weight gain is 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.
Here is an approximate breakdown of your healthy pregnancy weight gain:
Baby = 7 to 8 pounds
Placenta = 1 to 2 pounds
Amniotic fluid = 2 pounds
Uterus = 2 pounds
Maternal breast tissue = 2 pounds
Maternal blood = 4 pounds
Fluids in maternal tissue = 4 pounds
Maternal fat and nutrient stores = 7 pounds
How much should you gain?
During your first office visit, your doctor will discuss the expected body changes during pregnancy and estimate the right amount of weight for you to gain based on your health and your pre-pregnancy weight.
It’s recommended that most healthy women gain 25 to 35 pounds.
Trimester weight gain estimate
First: 1 to 1½ pounds a month
Second: About 1 pound a week
Third: About 1 pound a week
Getting it just right: healthy pregnancy weight gain
It’s really important to follow your doctor’s recommendation, because gaining either too little or too much during pregnancy can lead to difficulties.
Too little. Your little one needs nourishment, so you need to eat enough for both of you. If you don’t gain enough weight, she may have a low birth weight, and low-birth-weight babies have a harder time thriving and are more vulnerable to health problems.
Too much. Some women gain too much weight, even though they eat wisely, while some might use pregnancy as an excuse to break all their healthful eating rules. Before you break out the candy bars, remember that by gaining too much 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 also make it extra hard to lose the weight after the baby arrives, and that extra weight can cause other health problems.
Chart your weight gain, month by month
One way to help monitor your weight gain is to chart your weight gain during pregnancy. Each month you can compare your own weight gain against the recommended weight gain noted above. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have.
Benefits of prenatal exercise
In addition to managing weight and reducing stress, prenatal exercise can help prevent swollen ankles and varicose veins. Exercise increases your circulation, which helps draw off the extra fluid that can pool in your ankles and feet. Talk with your doctor to develop an exercise program that’s safe for you.