Pregnancy Weight Gain
During pregnancy, a mother’s body prepares to provide nutrients to the baby, prepares for baby’s birth and for the postpartum period. A certain amount of weight gain as per individual requirement is essential, unavoidable and fundamental part of a healthy pregnancy. Here are the factors that comprise the weight gain during pregnancy:
- Gradual Increase in Tissue Mass leads to gradual increase in weight week by week. Protein is used up in building the growing uterus, mammary tissues, blood volume, placenta and fetus.
- There is also gradual increase in the volume of amniotic fluid that surrounds the growing fetus during the initial 8 months of pregnancy.
- At full term, 1/4th of the total weight gain is because of the fetus, 5% is due to placenta and 6% due to the amniotic fluid.
- 62% of the total weight gain is due to water, 30% due to fat and 8% due to protein.
Factors that affect weight gain during pregnancy:
- Pre Pregnancy Height and Weight
- Stress levels
- Conditions like diabetes, blood pressure or disability.
- Culture (food habits)
- Environment (physical, social and work)
Those who are overweight to obese are more prone to pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, low chances of normal delivery and breastfeeding difficulties. Babies born to overweight moms also tend to be heavier and are prone to be obese during their adulthood.
Underweight moms have been known to deliver low birth weight babies prone to risks such as high mortality rate and retarded growth.
Ideal weight gain recommendations:
The given table is based on BMI at the time of conception (As per Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), America). Lower weight gain corresponds to higher BMI, e.g. in the second entry, those with BMI near 26 should gain near 11.5kg. Younger women should try gaining weight near the higher end of the weight gain range compared to older women. Women with short stature (height less than 157cm) should try to gain weight near the lower end of weight gain range.
|Underweight (BMI <19.8)||12.5 kg to 18 kg|
|Normal Weight (BMI between 19.8 to 26)||11.5 kg to 16 kg|
|Overweight (BMI from 26 to 29)||7 kg to 11.5 kg|
A pregnant woman must track how much she is gaining each week and compare it with the recommended values depending on pre pregnancy BMI, height, age and stature. The OB/GYN also observes your body weight, age, stature and asks about previous pregnancies and suggests the right weight gain for your personal requirements during the first prenatal visit. The values given here are approximate and some women may not gain weight very steadily and there can be times of sudden weight gain to very low weight gain during couple weeks.
|Underweight (BMI <19.8)||0.5kg a week or 1kg per month|
|Normal Weight (BMI between 19.8 to 26)||0.4 kg a week or 800g a month|
|Overweight (BMI from 26 to 29)||0.3 kg a week or 600g a month|
The tracking / noting down of body weight can be done week by week or on monthly basis. Generally, more rapid weight gain is observed during the last trimester of pregnancy, and comparatively low weight gain is observed in the first trimester.
Your OB/GYN also notes the weight gain during visits and checkups, and he/she would suggest you if you should gain more or less in the coming weeks. It would be a good idea to show him/her your notes about your weight which will be helpful for the doctor to guide you more accurately.
Handbook of Nutrition and Pregnancy by Carol J. Lammi-Keefe, Elliot H. Philipson and Sarah C. Couch