One of the biggest concerns women face during the different stages of pregnancy development is weight gain. There are several reasons why gaining a healthy amount of weight-neither too little nor too much-is important as your pregnancy progresses. Your baby requires adequate nutrition to grow, but poor nutrition and excess weight can cause health problems. As with everything else related to pregnancy, the rules of weight gain vary from person to person and you should check with your doctor to determine how much weight you should be gaining.
Pregnancy Weight Goals
Overall, a woman who begins pregnancy at a healthy weight should gain between 25 and 35 pounds by the time of delivery. If you are underweight when you get pregnant, aim for 28 to 40 pounds. Overweight women should gain between 15 and 25 pounds. Obese women, those with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30, need to gain just 15 pounds. Women carrying twins should gain between 35 and 45 pounds.
What Causes Pregnancy Weight Gain?
Of the weight you gain (if you're carrying just one baby), your baby will make up about seven and a half pounds. Some babies will be smaller, some larger. Amniotic fluid, the placenta, blood and other body fluids account for roughly 8 to 10 pounds. Your breasts will get larger, and the additional breast tissue adds two to three pounds to your weight gain. Your uterus will also grow, adding two to five pounds. Fat stores (for delivery and breastfeeding) make up five to nine pounds.
Weight Gain by Trimester
Only two to five of the pounds you gain should be during the first trimester. During the second and third trimesters, you may gain about one pound a week. Some women gain more weight immediately. This can be because of the way their bodies are changing and their babies are growing. It can also be because they are overcompensating for their extra dietary needs. Don't buy into the saying "eating for two." A pregnant woman only needs an additional 300 calories a day.
If you find that you are gaining weight too quickly, or if you're not gaining enough, talk to your doctor. Too much weight gain can cause health problems such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, an increased chance of requiring a C-section, back and leg aches, varicose veins and fatigue.
At the same time, it is not healthy to attempt to lose weight during pregnancy, even if you are overweight when your pregnancy begins. Your baby needs the nutrients that extra calories will provide, and excessive exercise can be harmful to your developing baby.
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