What is ‘healthy weight gain’ during pregnancy? How much is too much?

  • Dr. Sugandh Goel

    Senior Medical Content Writer, BDS, MS (Healthcare Management), Carnegie Mellon University, USA.

  • Posted On December 21, 2020

Weight gain during pregnancy has always been a point of contention between the doctor and the patient. Despite being advised to eat a healthy well-balanced diet, a pregnant woman ends up thinking that she needs to eat for two, to meet the needs of the growing baby inside her womb.

Moreover, family members supporting this notion of ‘eating for two’ makes gaining more than 20-25 kilos during these nine months a norm.

Gaining the right amount of weight is very important during pregnancy. It should be rather rephrased as gaining the right amount of ‘healthy’ weight is important to ensure an uneventful pregnancy.

Gaining too much or too little both has its consequences as mentioned below:

Consequences of excess weight gain Consequences of insufficient weight gain
For the mother
  • Higher chances of cesarean section
  • Breathlessness, back & joint pain, heartburn during pregnancy.
  • The risk of gestational diabetes.
  • The risk for obesity, high blood pressure & diabetes later in life.
For the mother
  • Premature delivery
For the baby
  • Premature baby
  • A bigger baby which can cause complications during labour and heavy bleeding after birth.
For the baby
  • Low birth weight baby
  • Suffer growth restriction inside the uterus.
  • Have trouble breastfeeding.
  • Higher risk for illnesses.
  • Increased chances of missing developmental milestones.

Ideal weight gain during pregnancy

It is generally expected that a woman should gain 10-15 kilos in her entire pregnancy. But, it varies from person to person and is based on a range of factors.

To calculate the ideal weight gain, the first step is to—determine the personal weight gain goal. It is calculated based on the body mass index (BMI) before a woman gets pregnant.

The table below summarises the recommended average weight gain based on pre-pregnancy BMI.

And by the time, a woman reaches her due date, all the extra weight gained during pregnancy goes as follows:

  • Baby: Approx 3-3.5 kilos
  • Placenta: 1-1.5 kilos
  • Amniotic fluid: 1-1.5 kilos
  • Breast tissue: 1 kilo
  • Blood supply: 2 kilos
  • Large uterus: 1-2.5 kilos
  • Fat stored for delivery and breastfeeding: 2.5 - 4 kilos

How to gain weight healthily during pregnancy?

The key is to gain weight slowly and steadily under expert guidance. This ensures proper nutrition to the developing baby and at the same time, helps a woman stay in the target weight range.

Here are a few tips for good nourishment of both the baby and the mother:

  1. Eat right under expert supervision
    • Limit intake of added sugars in the form of sugary beverages, desserts, whole milk and fatty meats.
    • Include all 15 essential micro and macronutrients by consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products etc.
  2. Know your calorie needs as advised by your health Coach

    In general, the calorie requirements of a pregnant woman who has a normal weight are as follows:

    • No extra calories are needed in the first trimester
    • An additional 300 calories needed per day in the second trimester
    • An additional 500 calories needed per day in the third trimester.
  3. Do safe pregnancy exercises regularly if your doctor says ok.

    Apart from managing weight, staying active also helps to keep stress levels under control. A pregnant woman should aim for 30 minutes of any physical activity daily, 5 days a week.

    Simple activities such as going for walks, gardening, swimming, stretching, prenatal yoga can be done under expert supervision.

Since weight gain during pregnancy varies from person-to-person, a personalised approach is the right way to manage weight gain during pregnancy.

Balancing between the ‘food cravings’ and ‘healthy eating’ is much needed to maintain a healthy weight gain. Staying physically active and keeping a check on calorie intake throughout 9-months is also not a cakewalk for all mommies-to-be.

As a solution to this, we have launched India’s first-ever Pregnancy Care Program - PregStar for every mom-to-be.

PregStar is a one-stop solution for all pregnancy-related queries. It helps expectant mothers to get the right nutrition, gain weight healthily, stay active, manage stress, reduce risk of complications and much more! Our expert pregnancy educators and coaches help women to achieve better outcomes for themselves and the baby.

Allow an expert PregStar Coach to give you the best care during the most blissful phase of your life.

Call now at 022 48971077 or visit PregStar to know more.

References:

  1. https://www.babycenter.in/a554810/weight-gain-in-pregnancy
  2. https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/healthy-weight-gain#2-5
  3. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/not-gaining-enough-weight/#:~:text=During%20the%20first%20trimester%20of,however%2C%20by%20the%20second%20trimester
  4. https://www.verywellfamily.com/underweight-while-pregnant-4589291
  5. https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/weight-gain-during-pregnancy.aspx#
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-weight-gain.htm#important
  7. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/pdfs/maternal-infant-health/pregnancy-weight-gain/tracker/single/Obese_Weight_Tracker_508Tagged.pdf
  8. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/calories-diet/
  9. https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/prenatal-wellness/healthy-weight-during-pregnancy
  10. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/parenting/pregnancy/how-much-weight-is-normal-for-a-pregnant-woman-to-gain/articleshow/70055254.cms

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Disclaimer: All information here, including text, images, tables, videos and any other content is for your knowledge only and we do not guarantee any specific result by following these recommendations as it may vary from person to person. The information is not a substitute for qualified medical advice from a doctor or other medical health expert.