Weight gain is one element in pregnancy that I have decided not to worry too much about. The variables are too great and every woman’s experience is so completely different that monitoring your weight gain may not help you much, if at all. Health care providers like to stick to a schedule of weight gain for pregnant mothers, but the truth is that there is no way to determine how or when you will gain weight or how much. Still, you may wish to keep track of your weight once a month or so, just for your own personal knowledge.
Websites, books, and care providers will tell you that you need to gain a certain amount of weight and that you should be eating more – usually about 300 extra calories per day. As a person who does not and has never counted all of the calories I eat every day, I personally feel that this is an unreasonable goal. We don’t run on numbers and charts. Your body will tell you what you need and when you need it. Eat when you are hungry and don’t worry about cramming that extra helping of dinner into your mouth just because some book says that you should.
Some women gain a lot of weight in early pregnancy. Other women will not gain any weight at all until their second or third trimesters. Many women actually lose weight before their second trimester, usually because of morning sickness or aversion to foods.
Continuous weight loss during pregnancy is a cause for concern. If you are still losing weight for any reason on into your second trimester, there could be a problem. If it is caused by nausea and no remedies are working for you, it may be time to see a doctor and get a prescription for anti-nausea medication. If you are dieting, stop now. You should never diet during pregnancy.
Do not worry if you don’t gain any weight in your first trimester. At this point, the baby is extremely tiny. Even if you are unable to keep food down, your baby does not need much at all and he or she will take what is needed from your own body. At this point, you should be more concerned with what chemicals are going into your body than with the amount of food you are able to eat.
On the other hand, excessive weight gain during pregnancy is also not healthy. It is a common myth in our society that pregnancy makes women obese. This is not true. If a woman becomes obese during pregnancy, it is for other reasons. Either she is overeating, eating more unhealthy foods because that is what she is craving, or she is not taking care of herself properly. You should be eating healthily and getting plenty of exercise while pregnant.
If you are overweight, it does not affect your ability to have an unassisted birth at home. Extra weight can make you more likely to have problems during pregnancy and labor, however, so if you are not yet pregnant, this may be the time to lose a little weight. Overweight women are much more likely to develop health problems in pregnancy such as preeclampsia and diabetes. An overweight woman who initially wanted and planned for an unassisted birth may be upset at having to change her plans because of health problems.
Extra fat deposits around the vagina may also make giving birth more difficult. Women who are overweight may find that their pregnancies are harder on them, that they get tired more easily, or that they have more trouble with blood clotting and stiffness in the joints. Overweight women are also more likely to need caesarian sections because of emergency problems such as diabetes and preeclampsia.
The following are charts with what are considered “normal weight gain” for most pregnant women, but deviation is completely normal.
Approximate weight gain throughout pregnancy:
Underweight – 28 to 40 lbs
Average weight – 25-35 lbs
Overweight – 15-25 lbs
Obese – 15 lbs
Approximate distribution of weight:
Baby – 7-8 lbs
Placenta – 2 lbs
Extra Blood – 3 lbs
Uterus – 2 lbs
Amniotic fluid – 2 lbs
Breasts – 2 lbs
“Maternal Stores” – 6-8 lbs
Retained water – 2-4 lbs