When a woman becomes pregnant, the first suggestion she receives from her well-wishers is to eat as much as she can. After all, she is carrying life inside of her and she has to stay as healthy as she possibly can. Weight gain during pregnancy is one of the most important things a woman should take care of.
However, “eating for two” doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to overeat. A few extra calories each day will be more than sufficient, as it also depends on which trimester you are in and your Body Mass Index (BMI). Simply put, BMI is a measurement of a person’s weight with respect to his or her height. It is like a measurement of a person’s total body fat. When a person’s BMI score increases, so does the person’s total body fat.
A pregnant woman can refer to this chart as a rough guideline for how much weight she should be ideally gaining during her pregnancy in regards to her BMI.
Source: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, USA
A pregnant woman should ideally gain about 1 kg during the first trimester and approximately about 1 kg per week in the second and third trimesters. Most pregnant women are often surprised about all the weight gain during pregnancy. It may look like only their belly is getting bigger and are often shocked to learn just how much they weigh. Before we get into the details about weight gain during pregnancy with each trimester, it is important to understand where the weight is distributed.
Also read: Tests & Scans Before & During Pregnancy
An approximate breakdown of your weight gain during pregnancy:
- Baby - 3 kgs
- Placenta - 1 and ½ kg
- Amniotic fluid - 1 and ½ kg
- Uterus - 1 kg
- Maternal breast tissue - 1kg
- Maternal blood - 2 kg
- Fluids in maternal tissue - 2 kg
- Maternal fat and nutrient stores - 3 and ½ kgs
Trimester wise weight gain during pregnancy
#1. Weight gain during the first trimester
As detailed above, a woman’s weight gain during pregnancy is not consistent. She may not gain any weight in the first trimester and suddenly put on a lot of weight during the second and third trimesters.
Many women find it hard to gain weight or keep their food down during the first few weeks of pregnancy due to morning sickness. This is also why some women lose weight during that time. However, one need not worry too much as at this time of pregnancy, the baby doesn’t need as many calories and nutrients as later in pregnancy.
Also read: How Do Low Levels Of Vitamin D Affect Pregnancy?
#2. Weight gain during the second trimester
The second trimester is a crucial period of time for women to try and gain extra weight or all the weight they shed during the first trimester. During the second trimester, your weight gain should be steady and gradual. You should be putting on 1kg or at least half a kg of weight every week. If you are gaining significantly more than 1kg per week, you need to consult your doctor and really need to keep a check on what you are consuming.
Women put on a lot of weight starting from the second trimester not only because of the baby’s growing size but also because they add on a lot of water weight. They will also gain a few extra pounds from the amniotic fluid. One of the biggest reasons why women put on weight during this time is also because their blood volume increases by nearly 50%. So, if you suddenly see a baby bump, do not be alarmed.
#3. Weight gain during the third trimester
As soon as a woman enters her third trimester, she will almost immediately notice just how quickly and how much her baby is growing. Her body will also go through major changes to support the frame and life of her growing baby. In the final months of the pregnancy is when the baby will gain the most weight.
Also read: How To Eat Healthy Yet Control Weight During Pregnancy
According to the American Pregnancy Association, the fetus weighs around 1 kg at 27 weeks and more than 2 kgs by the time it is the 32nd week. If you have a full-term baby, the baby will grow up to weigh 3.5 kgs. It isn’t just his weight that grows though, the baby also grows on an average of 6 inches. In addition to the baby weight, you will also gain more weight through fluids, more blood, a larger uterus and fat stores. All these extra sources of fat will eventually add up to a lot in the third trimester and that is why doctors and midwives stress that women try not to gain too much weight during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
Simple tips to gain more calories during pregnancy:
- Never skip breakfast. Eating just two slices of toast with peanut butter or a cheese can give an extra boost of protein.
- Eat light snacks like yoghurt and dried fruits in between your bigger meals as they are a huge source of protein, calcium and minerals.
- Consume foods like nuts, fatty fish, avocados and olive oil which are high in healthy fats.
- Keep yourself hydrated and drink lots of water. Include fresh pressed fruit juices in your daily diet.
- Cut out on junk food as much as you can.
- Consult your doctor about taking prenatal vitamins or any other additional supplements.
Also read: How much weight gain is normal during pregnancy?
Problems that might occur with too much weight gain:
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- Gestational diabetes
- Leg pain
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Increased risk of cesarean delivery
- Varicose veins
- High blood pressure