weight gain in pregnancy

Weight gain in pregnancy is a delicate issue for several reasons. Yes, nobody likes to pack on several extra kilos but that's exactly what you need to do when pregnant.

Especially, the real concerns arise when these can affect your health and that of the baby. Is there any reference for weight gain during pregnancy? Technically, a pregnant woman needs about 300 healthy calories more a day than the ones she used to get before expecting a baby. Considering pregnancy stages, you are expected to gain between 1 to a little less than 2 kilos during the first three months and, from that point on, as much as half a kilo a week. 

That said, experts work with different criteria according to women's Body Mass Index (BMI), calculated by height and weight. For example, a woman whose weight was average before getting pregnant should put on between 11 to 16 kilos through the entire process -15 to 20kg, in case of carrying twins-. That 'average' changes when dealing with an overweight person, who should gain 7 to 11kg during the 9 months, or an underweight woman, who will obviously need more: 13 to 18kg. In those cases when the woman is obese, the pregnancy weight gain should range from 5 up to 9kg.

Once your BMI is calculated, your health care provider will be able to determine how much weight you should gain. Needless to say, this isn't an exact science, since it depends on other factors, such as metabolism and genetics.


Weight gain in pregnancy: Where does it go? 

Are you curious to find out where all this pregnancy weight gain goes? Then don't miss a beat and look at this extra weight distribution:

  • Baby: 3.5kg
  • Placenta: 1-1.5kg
  • Amniotic fluid: 1-1.5kg
  • Blood supply: 1.8kg
  • Breast tissue: 1-1.5kg
  • Expanded uterus: 1-2.2kg
  • Stored fat needed for delivery and breastfeeding: 2-4kg


Am I allowed to lose weight while being pregnant? 

Many women wonder whether it's ok to lose some weight during pregnancy, so that it takes them less effort to get their shape back in the future. Others just panic because they are concerned about the weight never coming off. Unfortunately, if you are one of them, you need to know that you should only lose weight under medical advice. Dieting with a baby on the way is usually addressed to overweight women who are at risk of suffering from any complications, such as gestational diabetes or hypertension. If that is not your case, you should know that pregnancy is not the best moment to start dieting! You need lots of extra energy for both you and your baby. It’s a good moment to pick healthy habits if you didn’t have them, but save losing weight for later!


Weight gain in pregnancy: What if I gain too much? 

Keeping a steady weight gain in pregnancy isn't that easy, so it's not unusual that pregnant women end up putting on too much weight. Though in most cases they have to wait until after delivery to start getting rid of these extra kilos, it's also possible to slow weight gain by following some easy tips: 

  • Avoid eating fast food. If, somehow, you end up going to a fast food chain, choose lower-fat options.
  • Stay away from whole milk products. Instead, invest in skimmed milk, 1 or 2%, and fat-free cheese and yoghurt.
  • Don't add extra salt to foods, because that makes your body retain water.
  • Cut down on sweet snacks. Craving foods is part of pregnancy, but exceeding the limit is counterproductive, above all if you don't make good choices. As much as you can, try to avoid chips, cookies, candy, cakes and donuts, among other unhealthy pregnancy cravings
  • Choose water over sweetened drinks.
  • Limit the amount of fats, including margarine, butter and cooking oils. Also, don't add sauces to your dishes and try to cook in healthy ways, like baking and boiling.
  • Do moderate exercise. You can ask your doctor for some advice, but swimming is generally safe during pregnancy.


Weight gain in pregnancy: What if I don't gain enough?

Of course, if being overweight isn't good during pregnancy, not being able to gain enough weight can also lead to problems. The negative effects that underweight pregnant women may be facing are:

  • Premature labour
  • Small babies
  • Malformations
  • Development problems
  • Learning disabilities


Weight gain: Pregnancy is over, will it go away?

Once your baby is born, you may start worrying about not being able to shed these extra kilos. This is a common fear among new mums, yet there are many ways to face it. While there are women who lose most of the weight gained just by breastfeeding, others need to put a lot of effort into it. Again, it depends on how many kilos they've put on, in relation to their BMI, and how fast their metabolisms can remove them. This is the ideal time for you to have long buggy walks with your baby or, if you prefer, you can just join a gym and put your body to work. Don't get obsessed with the idea of losing weight after pregnancy, because it'll happen sooner or later as long as you don't indulge your tummy excessively.


Gaining weight healthily

The idea may not be exciting, but weight gain in pregnancy is necessary to prevent health issues. In order to pack on the ideal kilos, you may have to play your part by following easy recommendations, such as:

  • Change your eating habits by having five to six meals a day.
  • Bring snacks with you. Nuts, crackers, cheese and dried fruits are good options.
  • Keep peanut butter on hand and take advantage of any chance to spread it on toasts, fruits like apples or bananas and crackers. Just think that one tablespoon of peanut butter will give you 100 calories, but if you want to play even harder, try having a peanut butter and jam sandwich.

If you don't want to eat such foods, you can just add extra fatty products to your meals. For example, use margarine, butter, cream cheese and gravy to either make or accompany your dishes. Before you know it, you'll start noticing your trousers tighter.


As you can see, weight gain in pregnancy requires control and discipline, but keep in mind that this is temporary and you'll get your average weight back in a few months. Too much weight isn't good and nor is too little, so you need to strike a balance.