‘Becoming as big as a house!’ is a worry some pregnant women have but gaining weight is a normal, natural part of being pregnant. When you learn where most of this weight is coming from, it can help you understand why weight gain is actually necessary. This knowledge can help you feel more comfortable about those added kilos and feel empowered as your body shape changes.
What weighs what?
The average baby weighs 3.5kgs. The placenta, amniotic fluid, increased blood supply, breast and uterus growth can add on another six or more kilograms. In addition, fat stores will also increase (this is the part that you are probably actually worried about). So you can see that some weight gain is required to grow a healthy baby.
How much is too much?
Women always want to know “How much weight should I put on when I’m pregnant?” There is no simple answer to this question, as it does depend on your weight and height, or in other words your BMI. Australia does not have a universal set of weight gain guidelines, but guidelines provided by the Institute of Medicine in the US are generally accepted as appropriate.
For example, if you are a normal weight, then it would be expected that you would gain 11.5 – 16kg by the end of your pregnancy. Another way to look at it is that during the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy, you can expect to put on around 500g each week. There is usually not much weight gain in the first trimester. If you are underweight, you would expect to gain more and if you are overweight, you would expect to gain less. If you are having twins or triplets, it is also normal to gain more weight.
A user-friendly online tool based on these guidelines can be found here. (Just remember when entering your height and weight you need to use feet, inches and pounds because it is American based). This tool can give you lots of helpful advice about appropriate weight gain in pregnancy based on your BMI (which is calculated for you). Steady weight gain throughout pregnancy is ideal and dieting or weight loss is not recommended.
When to take note of your pregnancy weight gain
We should care about weight gain in pregnancy because women who are overweight or obese do have increased risks in their pregnancy eg high blood pressure and diabetes. Having your weight accessed early is an important part of your obstetric care plan. Your healthcare provider may refer you to a dietician who can help you with healthy weight gain management. You may also consider consulting with a trainer who can encourage you to get active safely. If you are underweight a referral to a dietician may also be encouraged.
Try not to stress too much about putting on weight, because it’s all a normal part of the process. The ultimate goal is for a healthy baby and a health pregnancy. So try to focus on eating well and staying active, which will develop good habits you can continue once the baby is born. In the meantime try to enjoy those bigger boobs and J-Lo inspired booty!
Of course if you have concerns about your pregnancy weight or any subsequent related health issues please seek medical advice. Your midwife or obstetrician will be able to guide you through any concerns.