Weight gain during pregnancy: What’s normal and what’s not

Weight gain during pregnancy is a part and parcel of the process. However, putting on too much weight can have repercussions too.
backpain pregnancy
Gaining some weight during pregnancy is normal, but it may contribute to back pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Shilpi Sachdev Updated: 25 Feb 2021, 18:47 pm IST
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Yippie! You’re pregnant! Get ready to go through this experience which is nothing short of a miracle! It is amazing how a woman’s body goes through so many changes to grow that little bundle inside it. 

However, with these changes comes the weight gain. Many women worry about the weight gained during pregnancy, but these extra kilos are for nurturing your baby and you during this time. It’s not just about you anymore! You’re eating for two people now, hence you need to consume a well-balanced diet.

What causes this weight gain during pregnancy?

 There are various reasons at play here such as:

  • Increase in your breast size
  • Increase in the size of the placenta
  • Increase in the size of your uterus
  • Creation of extra blood and fluid in the body
  • Amniotic fluid around the body

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It is normal to gain some weight, but you must be wondering how much weight gain is normal? Let’s take a look. 

The amount of weight gain during pregnancy can be calculated based on your body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy. To calculate your BMI, divide your measured weight (in kilograms) by your measured height (in metres squared). 

For example: if your height is 1.65 metres and your weight is 67 kilograms, your BMI will be 67/1.65*1.65, which would be equal to 24 kg/m^2. You can also use online BMI calculators and charts to determine your BMI. 

If your BMI lies in the range of 18.5 to 24.9, before pregnancy, then you should ideally gain from 11 kg to 16 kg. In the first three months, the weight gain should be 1 to 1.5 kg. For the rest of the months, until you give birth, you should gain 1.5 to 2 kg every month.

If your pre-pregnancy BMI was above less or more than the range of 18.5 to 24.9, you should gain more or less weight, respectively. 

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Factors such as twin pregnancy and morning sickness also affect weight gain.

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How can you healthily gain weight during pregnancy?
  • The first and foremost thing to do is to consult your healthcare provider and set your goals right at the beginning. 
  • Tracking your pregnancy weight at the beginning and regularly thereafter is essential to monitor your progress.
  • Eating a well-balanced diet throughout these nine months is a must. You should consume fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy and whole grains. Try to avoid fried foods, fatty meats, soft drinks and desserts. 
  • Try to incorporate some gentle exercise into your daily routine. Your goal here is not to get fit, but to stay physically active. If you have always been active, then it is safe for you to continue exercising at your level.
What happens if you gain too much weight?

Weight gain beyond a certain point can cause potential complications to arise for your baby and you, such as: 

  • C-section
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Stillbirth
  • Hypertension
  • Macrosomia

Babies who are born to overweight mothers tend to develop obesity and other health problems in their later life. 

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Thus, by following your doctor’s guidelines and monitoring your weight gain, you can avoid these complications.

Eat healthily, do some physical activities and most of all, enjoy your pregnancy and the weight gain too!

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About the Author

Dr Shilpi Sachdev is an MBBS, DNB, DMAS, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital, Delhi NCR with 16 years experience. ...Read More

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