Pregnancy and Weight Gain: Why it Matters and How to do it Properly

There are thousands, if not millions, of websites advertising how to lose the much feared post baby weight. People recommend everything from herbal tea to crash diets, water aerobics to high intensity interval training. There are month-by-month plans and tips from fellow moms that seem understanding, yet condescending as they share how quickly they lost their baby weight and yes, you can definitely do it too.

And in a culture that is so focused on exterior looks and having the perfect body, it seems that many don’t question baby weight, only wonder how to get rid of it. By why do pregnant women gain so much weight? And how does it effect their overall health and fitness?

The average weight gain during pregnancy for women with a body mass index of 18.5-24.9 is recommended by health professionals to be between 25 and 35 pounds. For women who have a pre-pregnancy body mass index of less than 18.5, the average recommended weight gain is between twenty-eight and forty pounds.

Women with a body mass index of 25-29 should gain between fifteen and twenty pounds. And finally, women with a pre-pregnancy body mass index of thirty or more are recommended to gain between eleven and twenty pounds during pregnancy.

With these numbers in mind, it is important to remember that every pregnancy depends on the individual and may vary depending upon experience. It is also important to remember that a clear majority of the weight gained is distributed to both the baby and across the body in various ways.

It is said that on average, babies weight around 7.5 pounds at the end of a typical pregnancy. The placenta weighs about one and a half pounds, and four pounds are estimated for the overall increase in fluid volume. Seven pounds are also estimated for the fat, protein, and other nutrient stores that pregnant women begin to develop. The uterus, weight of breast tissue, and amniotic fluid are all averaged to gain about two pounds each as well. And then, there is another four pounds that is estimated for the overall increase in blood volume. Taking all of these increases in weight in to consideration, this averages to about 30 pounds altogether.

So, yes. There is going to be a weight gain during the pregnancy. But unlike how many think, not all of the weight gained is going straight to the baby. As shown above, there are estimates for how different parts of the body gain weight in order to help with baby development, carrying, and delivery. Making sure to ingest proper nutrition is also very important during pregnancy overall.

Gaining the recommended amount of weight for your body mass index is important not only for the babies condition, but for yourself. Gaining less than the recommended amount of weight can lead to delivering a baby who is too small. This can lead to complications with breastfeeding, an increased risk of illness, and developmental delays. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if a woman gains more than the recommended amount of baby weight, then it can lead to the baby being born too large.

This can lead to complications during delivery, having to have a cesarean section, and obesity in childhood. Gaining more than the recommended amount of weight can also lead to more of that weight remaining after pregnancy. Overall, according to the 2015 National Vital Systems via birth data, about 48 percent of women gain more than the recommended amount of pregnancy weight. Thirty two percent of women gain the recommended amount of pregnancy weight, and 21 percent of women gain less than the recommended amount.

To have a healthy body both before and after pregnancy, nutritionists and medical professionals have recommended the following. During the first trimester of pregnancy, caloric intake should remain the same. During the second trimester, an additional three hundred calories per day should be added to the nutritional diet. And during the final trimester, around five hundred additional calories per day should be added. Of course, this also depends on metabolism and activity level as well.

Overall, it is recommended that no matter what personal beliefs about pregnancy and weight gain a person has, it is important to discuss nutrition with a medical professional to find a personalized health plan during this exciting time.

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