How much weight should you gain during pregnancy?
Being conscious about your overall health is essential at any given point in your life but for women who are pregnant, keeping healthy is especially important, with weight management playing a key role when it comes to prenatal care. Managing your weight gain during this time is not only beneficial when it comes to getting back into shape after your baby arrives, but particularly important for maintaining your health for both you and your baby.
Some weight gain during pregnancy is important. But how much is too much?
Research by the Institute of Medicine has shown that while some weight gain is necessary for a healthy pregnancy, more than half of pregnant women gain either too much or too little weight. Sadly, this could result in stillbirth or babies that are born prematurely or at an unhealthy weight. Your baby’s later development could also be affected – increasing the risk of them becoming overweight or obese during childhood or developing diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease later in life. So how do you know what amount of weight gain is right for you and what to look out for? Read on and make your pregnancy a healthy one.
Know your BMI
The Institute of Medicine recommends that to begin with, those trying to conceive should be at their optimal weight – with a BMI in the ‘normal’ category. This is the healthiest way to begin a pregnancy. Following this, the recommended weight gain throughout pregnancy depends on a woman’s starting weight and BMI. To calculate your BMI, you can use a smart scale like QardioBase, or use an online calculator here. The IOM weight gain recommendations are expressed below in ranges, rather than as a single number – as positive outcomes can occur within a range of weight gains. One single number also cannot accommodate the many factors (such as age, race/ethnicity etc) that affect pregnancy outcomes.
The chart below outlines the Institute of Medicine weight gain recommendations during pregnancy:
Starting out at a healthy weight and gaining within the recommended range makes it far easier for women to return to a healthy weight after delivery. Maintaining a healthy weight after delivery has positive effects on a woman’s overall health, and also puts her on the right track for a healthy pregnancy in the future.
Eat smaller portions, more frequently
During pregnancy, your body works harder but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should eat more. During the first trimester, your weight gain should be minimal and it is not uncommon that many moms to actually lose weight due to morning sickness or newly developed food aversions. You will start gaining weight in your later trimesters but even then, your daily calorie intake doesn’t need to be more than 500 calories a day above your pre-pregnancy needs. If you feel more hungry than usual, eat more frequently with smaller portion sizes.
Eat smarter while pregnant
The nutrients from whatever you eat reach your baby through your blood supply and the baby’s placenta and umbilical cord, so if you haven’t done so before conception, this is the time to really think about what is passing through your body. Avoid processed foods, excess sugar, and cut down on salt and add more healthy items to your daily menu so your body get more vitamins and minerals both you and your baby needs. Read our blog post about essential foods you need during pregnancy here.
Drink up, water keeps your cravings at bay!
It’s easy to confused hunger with thirst and as your body is making up to 50% more blood during your pregnancy, you also need more fluids to support the process. Not only water will keep you more energetic, it will help with digestion as expecting women often experience constipation during their pregnancy. Water will even help keep the cravings the bay!
Move and stay active throughout your pregnancy
Staying active and maintaining a healthy level of fitness during your pregnancy is important. It will help to burn calories and keep you in shape. Research has also shown that women who maintained an active lifestyle during their pregnancy experienced shorter, easier births compared to those who gave up exercising during this time. Ask your doctor about what exercises are right for you but most prenatal specialists agree that continuing with most fitness routines is safe, although you shouldn’t start one with new exercises or increase the intensity of your current one. Watch your heart rate levels and avoid exercises that engage your belly area.
Be smart about your cravings
With all the hormones raging through your body, it might not be possible to completely battle every craving you get. And that is absolutely fine! Allow yourself a few exceptions and be smart about what and how often you eat. Swapping sugary snacks for protein based ones is a great way to enjoy yourself during pregnancy but also keep an eye on your weight gain. If you are craving something sweet, go for a smoothie with sweet fresh berries or a piece of fruit rather than a piece of candy full of refined sugar. Strawberries dipped in pure dark chocolate are a healthy and yummy alternative to store purchased candy and are full of antioxidants and heart healthy nutrients that are actually good for you.
Make starches work for you
Many moms to be reach for starchy food such as white rice or bread to help them battle nausea and food aversion during the early days. But those are not as healthy as you might think. Instead, stock up on complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain breads and give yourself and you baby more nutrients. Complex carbohydrates are also likely to keep you fuller longer hence helping with the cravings at the same time.
Actively track your weight during pregnancy
Knowing how fast you are gaining weight is important. Keep track of your current weight and adjust your daily menu accordingly. Pregnancy experts don’t recommend dieting during pregnancy so gaining too much weight and then skimping on meals is not a healthy behaviour while expecting. Instead, you should be aware of your weight on daily basis so instead of making a dramatic change to your calorie intake after a big weight jump you can regulate your increase with smaller, incremental steps. QardioBase, our smart wireless scale has a dedicated PREGNANCY MODE that not only charts your weight gain per each trimester but also lest you add pictures to each measurement so you can track your changes visually.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Institute of Medicine and National Research Council