PREGNANCY & WEIGHT GAIN: WHAT IS CONSIDERED HEALTHY?


Expecting mothers are bombarded and overwhelmed with people's opinions on what they should and shouldn't do/eat/drink etc. Remember what works for one woman, may be different to what works for you, EVERY PREGNANCY IS DIFFERENT. So focus on you and what your health professional tells you. Your body will change and that is okay, let's look a little closer at what are healthy changes.

HOW MUCH WEIGHT SHOULD I GAIN WHEN PREGNANT?


As with every question, it depends. Every women is different and the amount you should gain depends on what your BMI (kg/m^2).(you can calculate yours using like this eg. 60kg/1.65m2= 22.0 kg/m2) was before falling pregnant*.


BMI

Less than 18.5kg/m2 = 12.5-18kg (~500g per week in 2nd and 3rd trimesters)

18.5-24.99kg/m2 =11.5-16kg (~500g per week in 2nd and 3rd trimesters)

25-29.99kg/m2 = 6.8-11.3kg (~270g per week in 2nd and 3rd trimesters)

More than 30kg/m2 = 5-9.1kg (~225g per week in 2nd and 3rd trimesters)


AND FOR THOSE HAVING TWINS?


BMI

Less than 18.5kg/m2 = Insufficient information available

18.5-24.99kg/m2 = 16.8-24.5kg

25-29.99kg/m2 = 14.1-22.7kg

More than 30kg/m2 = 11.3-19.1kg


Essentially guidelines recommend what is considered 'healthy weight gain' is decreases as BMI increases.

Being pregnant can be overwhelming as everyone seems to inundate you with their opinions on what you should and shouldn’t do. Don’t let this overwhelm you. Putting on too much can be a problem as can not gaining enough. Appropriate weight gain is important for the best pregnancy and future health outcomes, for mum and baby. If your BMI is more than 25kg/m2 and your gaining less than recommended, but your baby is growing appropriately, there is no evidence to support further weight gain to improve health outcomes (but if you have an concerns, talk to your GP).



WHAT DOES THIS INCLUDE?


The change in your body weight is made up by your baby, placenta and umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, maternal reproductive tissues (uterus and breast tissues), increased blood volume, interstitial fluid, maternal fatty tissue (tummy, back and upper thighs which acts an an energy reserve for growing your baby and during lactation). So you can see it's important to gain weight, don't be too fearful, it's when there is excess weight gained that we need to start to look at making changes.


WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF TOO MUCH/LITTLE WEIGHT IN PREGNANCY?


Evidence has shown gaining above recommendations during pregnancy is associated with larger birth weight babies (and therefore increased risks during pregnancy), wish of cesarean, gestational diabetes, growth abnormalities and retaining weight postpartum. Not gaining enough is associated with lower birth weight babies and preterm births, which can lead to health conditions in the future. Only 1/3 of women meet the recommended weight changes during pregnancy, generally, underweight women gain too little, and overweight, too much. Putting on weight is necessary, it is definitely not recommended to try to lose weight during pregnancy, you are growing a baby and it needs all the nutrition it can get!


HOW DO I APPROACH THIS WITH MY CLIENTS?


Focus on getting as many NUTRIENTS in as possible to allow you & your bubba to thrive. Don’t focus too much on the amount of weight you may have/have not gained, your GP or specialist will have that conversation if they are concerned…you have enough on your plate (pun intended!) getting organised and getting some rest, focus on nourishing you and your baby!



WHAT NUTRIENTS DO I NEED TO EAT MORE OF?


Overall more calories!

This will help you meet your increased metabolic demands for the growth and development of your baby.


Protein

Your literally building a baby. This means more protein to build little muscles, neurotransmitters, hormones (I am sure you are well aware of different of increased hormonal changes!), increased blood volume and your baby's body tissues. Not getting enough protein can lead to poor growth of the fetus. Pass the yoghurt.


Carbs

Really important to maintain blood sugar levels and energy to get through the day. This is not the green light to carb load. Let's take this opportunity to choose good-quality carbs-wholegains, fruit and veg! Limit simple carbs such as fruit juice (no pulp) because they get broken down too quickly.


Fibre

If you have been following me for awhile, you will know I'm all about the fibre! This is really important to prevent constipation which gets even worse in the last trimester. Another reason to load up on the wholegrains, fruit and veg and don't forget the water. Lots of fibre + not much water = very constipated (ouch!)



Vitamins + Minerals

All really important. I encourage you to think about what is happening, you are growing your baby's bones=more calcium.


Twice as much calcium is absorbed in the gut during pregnancy in preparation for lactation-how amazing is a woman's body?! Although the your calcium requirements don't increase, most women don't meet the recommendation of 1000mg/day for the general population, therefore we need to make sure you are getting the 2-3 serves each day (eg. glass on milk and 200g tub of yoghurt to get you there).


Your blood volume increases by 50% during pregnancy. And what mineral helps to carry oxygen around in the body? Iron.


The requirements for iron during pregnancy nearly doubles from 18mg/day to 27mg/day. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. As with calcium, most women already enter pregnancy being iron deficient (women with short period between pregnancy, poor absorption of iron or poor intake are at increased risk), so it's important to eat more iron rich foods (lean meats, red meat, spinach and iron-fortified cereals).


Folic acid is vital to prevent miscarriages, low birth weight babies, early births and congenital malformations (neural tube defects eg. spina bifida, and congenital heart conditions). It is recommended you get 600ug/day during pregnancy.



The amount of nutrients you need varies based on your own individual needs and stage of your pregnancy.


This is a guide for the general population as it may change based on your genetics, ethnicity or other health conditions. These figures are not meant to trigger but to make you aware of the guide for weight changes. If you have any concerns, please see your doctor or if would like personal nutrition advice, I'm here to help and support you, click here to book an appointment.


If you found this helpful or know someone who would, I would love for you to share this with them,


Sarah


*Based on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations for the best health outcomes in pregnancy.

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