How Much Weight Should You Gain?
By Julianne Deveraux
There are many things you can do to prepare for the delivery of a healthy baby. One of the most important things is eating right to gain the extra weight you'll need to support another life.
During your first office visit, your doctor probably will tell you how much weight to gain during the nine months of your pregnancy. It's recommended that most healthy women gain 25 to 35 pounds, but this can vary depending on whether you're overweight or underweight. Try for a slow and steady weight gain, but remember that all women gain at different rates.
- During the first trimester, you'll gain only about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds each month.
- During the second trimester, you'll gain about 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound a week.
- During the third trimester, you'll gain about 1 pound a week!
All in all, by your due date, you'll probably feel that your weight gain has been enormous -- especially since a baby weighs only about 7 pounds.
What accounts for all that added weight?
Your total weight gain is almost equally divided between the baby (including placenta and amniotic fluid) and your body (expanded blood volume, uterus growth and enlarged breasts). Normally, there's also a little maternal fat storage, which is essential for a healthy baby.
Your physical well-being
It's important to follow your doctor's recommendation for weight gain because gaining either too little or too much can lead to problems. It's also important to remember it's the quality of the foods you eat rather than the quantity that matters.
Just right When a mom-to-be gains weight appropriately, the odds are in favor of delivering a healthy baby. Your health-care provider will estimate the right amount of weight for you to gain during pregnancy based on your health and pre-pregnancy weight.
Too little The saying "You can never be too rich or too thin" doesn't apply to an expectant mom (at least not the "thin" part). Your growing baby needs nourishment and you must eat enough for both of you. If you don't gain enough weight, your baby is at risk of having a low birth weight. Low-birth-weight babies have a harder time thriving and are more vulnerable to health problems. So be sure to follow your doctor's weight-gain guidelines.
Too much Some women seem to gain a little too much weight, even though they eat wisely. But others have been known to use pregnancy as an excuse to break all their healthful eating rules. That's not a good idea. By gaining too much weight:
- You put extra stress on your heart, which is already working overtime to pump your increased blood volume.
- You add stress to your joints, which pregnancy hormones have loosened and made lax.
- You'll be more likely to develop backaches.
- You'll make it extra hard to lose the weight after baby arrives, extra weight which can cause other serious health problems.