Many women worry about appropriate weight gain during pregnancy and are concerned about what is too much or too little. In 1990, the Institute of Medicine issued guidelines that outlined how much weight a woman should gain during pregnancy based on her pre-pregnancy body-mass index. To maintain a healthy weight, women should consume about 300 extra calories each day, as excessive weight gain can pose risks to both the mother and baby.
Purpose of Baby Weight
A women should gain about 7 to 10 lbs. during the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy, and then no more than a pound a week during the last half, Lisa Rodriguez writes on the DrSpock website. Pregnancy weight gain actually serves a purpose, which is to help grow a baby. When the mother-to-be understands how the body distributes pregnancy weight, she is more likely to accept her changing body. Increased fluid and blood account for about 10 lbs. An increase in tissue production from the uterus, placenta and breasts make up about 6 lbs. And don’t forget that the average baby weighs in at 7 lbs.
Weight Gain Factors
Sometimes women can gain too much weight during pregnancy, however, which could indicate an underlying medical condition such as preeclampsia. As reported by the Preeclampsia Foundation, this serious condition affects 5 to 8 percent of pregnant women. Its symptoms include high blood pressure, weight gain of more than 4 lbs. per week, protein in the urine, headaches and dizziness. Preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal and fetal illness and death. Pre-pregnancy weight and dietary habits also contribute to excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
Effects of Weight
Excessive pregnancy weight gain has many adverse effects. At the top of the list for many mothers-to-be is how they will lose the extra weight after the baby is born. However, they should give equal consideration to how excessive weight gain affects them while still pregnant. Pregnant women who gain too much weight are at risk of developing gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Not surprisingly, they typically experience an increase in general body aches and fatigue. Finally, the risk for delivery by cesarean section increases.
Body Mass and Diet
One of the best preventive measures to ensuring a healthy weight gain during pregnancy is to start out at a healthy body-mass index. Women who are of a normal weight pre-conception are more likely to gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy. Once you conceive, watch your diet. Eat six small meals a day comprising healthy low-fat foods. Replace whole-milk products with low-fat or skim milk. Avoid sugary foods and foods with too much salt, which retains water. Finally, incorporate exercise into your daily schedule.
Consult a Doctor
Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal exams so that their health care providers can adequately monitor their weight. Only a medical professional will be able to tell whether a mother-to-be is within the recommended range of weight gain. Likewise, health care providers can rule out any underlying medical issues in the event of too much weight gain and work with their patients to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.
- pregnant #3 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com