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Pregnancy | Body Matters

Ideal Weight Gain During Pregnancy

To make sure your baby grows healthily and steadily, keeping a close eye on your weight gain during pregnancy is essential. You’ll find that women who don’t gain a lot of weight are at a higher risk of giving birth to a small baby, while women who gain too much weight are at a higher risk of having a premature baby or a very large baby – which means that the expression “eating for two” is not necessarily one that should be taken literally. In order to keep your blood pressure and other pregnancy-related conditions under control, gaining the right amount of weight is also important for your own health. An additional benefit of monitoring your pregnancy weight gain is the fact that when it’s all over, it will be easier to get your old figure back. Let’s take a closer look at ideal weight gain during pregnancy and how you can make sure you stay on the right track.

How much weight gain is normal?
If your weight before you fell pregnant was healthy according to your height, it’s normal to gain between 11 and 16 kilos. If you were underweight before you fell pregnant, however, you can expect to gain between 12 and 18 kilos. And if you were overweight you can expect to gain between 7 and 11 kilos, while if you are having twins you can expect to gain between 15 and 20 kilos. The rate of weight gain is also very important to monitor. On average you’ll only gain between 1 and 3 kilos in your first trimester, while for the rest of your pregnancy you can gain up to half a kilo per week. But it’s also normal that weight gain decreases after the week 35, and stops altogether after the week 38. Many women even lose a little bit of weight 7-10 days before labour, due to a reduction in hormone levels.


Where does the weight go?
Apart from the weight of the baby itself, roughly 3.5 to 4 kilos, the weight you gain during pregnancy is due to a number of other changes that are happening within your body. Not only will your breasts and your uterus grow, but you’ll also have an increased volume of blood and other fluids. The placenta and the amniotic fluid also add weight, and so does maternal fat stores.

What happens when you gain too little or too much?
If you gain too much weight it increases your risk of having an overweight child with higher blood pressure, and it can also increase your risk of having a premature baby. If you gain too little weight during pregnancy, on the other hand, it increases your risk of having an underweight baby. And keep in mind that small children are more at risk of certain conditions, such as diabetes and heart diseases, during adulthood. However every woman is different, so you shouldn’t be too concerned if you are not following the ideal pregnancy weight gain pattern on the dot.

What should I eat?
Hormones rule your body when you are pregnant, and they can cause havoc in many different ways. Some pregnant women constantly feel nauseous and extremely tired, which can easily result in a low appetite. Other women simply feel hungry all the time and just want to eat everything in sight! There is also the issue of pregnancy cravings to take into consideration, as these cravings often involve food that’s high in fat and rich in sugar. It’s highly advisable to stay away from over-indulging when it comes to these types of food, as they have the ability to affect your child’s risk of being overweight later in life. But you are of course allowed to treat yourself to a chocolate milkshake or a greasy cheeseburger every now and then! Controlling cravings can be easier if you always snack on healthy foods that keep you full – such as whole grain bread with hard-boiled eggs, lots of fresh fruit and nuts, or a bean salad. On the whole, a balanced, healthy and protein-rich diet, combined with lots of water and light exercise, should keep you on track when it comes to pregnancy weight gain.

How will the weight gain affect my body?
As your pregnancy progresses and you suddenly find yourself rapidly gaining weight, you might feel slightly depressed. Try to keep in mind that weight gain is normal and healthy for both you and your baby, and that the extra weight will fall off again once your baby has been born. When those kilos are piling on you’ll also feel clumsy and more than likely experience backaches. Swollen legs and ankles are other common pregnancy symptoms. This is not directly caused by weight gain however, but rather from excess fluids in your body. Remember that if you notice sudden swellings in your hands and face, speak to your practitioner immediately as this could be a sign of preeclampsia - a potentially dangerous pregnancy condition.

How can I get rid of the extra weight afterwards?
It’s so important to make sure you’re at a healthy weight before you fall pregnant, and to follow a healthy eating plan and exercise regime throughout your whole nine months of being pregnant. Not only will this make labour easier, but it will also help you get your figure back faster once you have given birth.

Just remember to keep in mind that every woman is different, so don’t panic if your weight gain is not progressing in the exact pattern it’s supposed to follow, and simply speak to your gynaecologist should you have any concerns.


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