Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain
One of the most hotly googled pregnancy topics? "How much weight should I gain?" "12 weeks pregnancy weight gain" "Pregnancy weight gain calculator." And so on. We live in a very aesthetic driven society, and so to some extent it's “normal” to be concerned about how much weight we gain as we grow another human. But I urge you to consider the healthful range that is right for you, for your circumstances, and that is, indeed “healthy,” but with a healthy dose of self-compassion. A “healthy" pregnancy is one that supports the needs of your growing bump as well as the needs of the mother - that is nutritionally supported for all the wonders taking place in your body. There’s a huge range of “healthy,” and I even use the word “healthy” with caution, as sometimes being too health-obsessed is actually less than healthy in reality. When I use the word healthy, I mean a helpful, health-inducing amount of weight that enables you and your baby to flourish - the goldilocks amount.
Pregnancy weight gain calculator
You can check out this pregnancy weight gain calculator here, and note that a RANGE is given, and that these are GUIDELINES, not absolutes.
Look for government sites and those that are recommended by WHO, and other accredited national and global bodies rather than forum based sites. The CDC is an American based government body which has a range of trackers for different pregnancies - based on whether you begin pregnancy at a normal, underweight, or overweight category, or have a twin or higher order pregnancy - very useful information. Check it out here:
How much weight should I gain in pregnancy?
According to the CDC,
If before pregnancy, you were _____, you should gain _____.
- Underweight BMI; less than 18.5 28-40 pounds (12.7-18.14 kg)
- Normal Weight BMI; 18.5-24.9 25-35 pounds (11.3-15.8 kg)
- Overweight BMI; 25.0-29.9 15-25 pounds
- Obese BMI; greater than or equal to 30.0 11- 20 pounds (5-9 kg)
Weight gain in the first trimester
Just as with weight gain in normal life, there are many factors from how much you consume, how much you move your body, sleep, stress, and hormones that all interplay with our weight balance, but then we are also thrown the curve-ball of morning sickness. Some women will feel too ill to consume, or keep down much in the way of nutrition in the early part of pregnancy, whilst others will find some relief from carbohydrates and other plain but often energy dense foods, and so weight gain can be from the minus numbers, through to 5+ Kg in a short many weeks. It’s hard to manage what your taste buds will and won’t allow in those early months - but the best advice is to try to stick to whole foods, to drink plenty of fluids, take a pregnancy multivitamin, and see your health professional if you are worried, to seek the advice of your health care professional.
How much weight should I gain in the second trimester?
Weight gain across pregnancy doesn’t follow a linear progression - rather more sigmoidal in nature. WE tend to gain less in the first trimester, have a steep rise in the second trimester, and then a plateauing in the third trimester, with some women even losing 1 kg or so in the last month of pregnancy. What is important is that your baby is growing at a steady rate, and that you are able to maintain an active lifestyle (in the absence of contraindications) consume a varied and whole-foods based diet (link to pregnancy nutrition article ) and reducing your risk of complications that come with excess weight gain, such as gestational diabetes, cardiac disorders, gestational hypertension and a large birth weight baby, which has higher incidence of birth trauma for the mother.
(Sudden weight gain of 1-2 kg in a couple of days, accompanied by headaches, dizziness, fluid retention should be brought to the attention of your health care provider straight away)
How much weight should I gain in the third trimester?
As above, weight gain can tend to slow down in the third trimester, you may lose a small amount of weight towards the end, you may gain a lot of fluid towards the end of pregnancy as well (joys!). Be guided by listening to your appetite, rather than cravings, moving your body daily, (check out our pregnancy exercise guide here) final height measurements / scanning to check your baby’s growth, rather than overly stressing about the numbers on the scale.
What can I do to ensure a healthy weight gain for me and my baby?
- Exercise is key - in fact we know it is helpful for many reasons, including your baby’s development, reducing back and pelvic pain, maintaining positive body image, and can help to reduce length of labour and delivery as well as recovery time :) Check out our exercise in pregnancy guide here, or jump on over to our pregnancy wellness platform, with pregnancy friendly workouts, yoga, mindfulness and nutrition.
- Eat according to appetite, rather than "cravings" (though it’s fine to indulge the occasional craving ladies, everything in moderation!)
- Eat a whole foods based diet. (Check out our pregnancy nutrition guide here.
- Your body needs extra calories in second and third trimester, so be sure to include some additional snacks throughout the day - to the tune of 300 calories per day in second trimester, and 600 extra in 3rd trimester)
Does my body “bounce” back to normal after having a baby?
URGH! I hate this phrase. I wish we could erase it from thought and concept to be honest! It’s ridiculous to think that our bodies will “go back” or that they even actually “went” anywhere at all. Our bodies are permanently changed, sometimes in small, subtle ways, sometimes in large, unignorable ways. Our organs, musculoskeletal system, circulatory system, skin, fascia, hormonal systems and oh-so-much more are permanently changed through the carriage + passage of a baby into the outside world, and it's strange that we would expect otherwise! Some small changes are part of the course - sagging breasts thanks to hormonal changes of pregnancy and breastfeeding, skin changes and stretch marks are changes we likely need to come to terms with and take in our stride as badges of motherhood; damage to pelvic floor, ongoing pain, or stress and anxiety are larger problems that we should seek to get some guidance and help on - they are all common, but not unmanageable changes that we can restore largely with the right advice and treatment.
Follow accounts and pages that make you feel GOOD about your postpartum body - my personal favourites are, to name but a few:
Unfollow those with unrealistic, unhealthy or unattainable messages and imagery - not helpful during this time ladies!
Check out our physiotherapist + 4x mum-designed Pregnancy Wellness Platform, Rose Fit and get your free 14-day trial now.