Pregnancy changes your body—and some women aren’t happy about it, especially in the first few months.
In the first trimester, you may get the morning sickness and the exhaustion. Or you might be gaining weight, but there’s still no bump. So, you feel fat. And bloated. But could your body be gaining too much too soon?
Here’s what you should know:
Q: Isn’t It Dangerous To Gain Too Much Weight During Pregnancy?
It’s easy to claim that you’re eating for two and give in to all those carb cravings, but gaining too much weight while you’re pregnant can put you at risk for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and an increased chance of needing a C-section, says the American Pregnancy Association.
Packing on the pounds during pregnancy can also put your baby at risk.
Being obese during pregnancy increases the likelihood of your child being born with congenital heart defects by 15%, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
In fact, overweight women may only need to gain about 15 to 25 pounds, while obese women should gain no more than 20 women, according to new guidelines from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Institute of Medicine.
An extra 300 calories per day is usually sufficient for most pregnant women, says the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Consult your doctor to see how many extra calories you should aim for during the different stages of your pregnancy.
Q: Where does the weight you gain during pregnancy go?
- Baby: 7-8 pounds
- Placenta: 1-2 pounds
- Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
- Uterus: 2 pounds
- Maternal breast tissue: 2 pounds
- Maternal blood: 4 pounds
- Fluids in maternal tissue: 4 pounds
- Maternal fat and nutrient stores: 7 pounds
Source: American Pregnancy Association
Q: What About Weight Loss During Pregnancy? Is That Safe?
A: The medical community answers this question with a resounding no.
You may lose a little bit of weight during the first trimester because morning sickness makes it hard to eat normally. But on the whole, steady weight gain during pregnancy is important, says the American Pregnancy Association.
Steady weight gain—instead of drastic weight gain—can reduce your risk of:
- varicose veins
- stretch marks
- shortness of breath
In fact, weight loss during pregnancy can actually be harmful to both you and your baby. Not gaining enough weight can cause your baby to have a low birth weight or be born prematurely.
Q: So How Much Weight Should You Gain During Pregnancy?
A: That depends on your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is calculated based on your weight and height.
While your BMI does not directly measure body fat, the CDC says that it is a fairly reliable measure of obesity, or at least an indicator that you may need to talk with your doctor about reaching a healthy weight.
Here’s how you can calculate your BMI:
(weight/height)² x 703
1) Calculate your weight in pounds divided by your height in inches height
2) Square that number
3) Now, multiply the result by 703
Once you know your pre-pregnancy BMI, you can determine how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy based on recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine.
|If your BMI is…||Your recommended weight gain is…|
|Less than 18.5||28 to 40 pounds|
|18.5 to 24.9||25 to 35 pounds|
|25 to 29.9||15 to 25 pounds|
|Greater than 30||11 to 20 pounds|
Source: Institute of Medicine
As your body changes, remember that it is growing to accommodate your baby. Celebrate the changes and don’t beat yourself up for gaining weight—but don’t use your pregnancy as an excuse to go crazy, either.
Talk to your doctor if you have questions about what or how much to eat during pregnancy.