Gaining Too Much Weight During Pregnancy

Most expecting mommies are under the impression that it is absolutely okay to pack pound after pound during pregnancy. Lots of pregnant women think that gaining excessive weight during pregnancy is absolutely normal and healthy. But little do they know how hazardous can it be both for the mother and the baby. Research and statistics suggest that excessive weight gain in pregnancy can complicate fetal growth and also exert harmful effects on the health of mother. But gaining how much weight is too much?

Are You Gaining Too Much Weight During Pregnancy?

Centre of Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data obtained from the pregnant women who gave birth between 2010 and 2011 in 28 American states and suggested that 47% of the pregnant women ended up gaining too much weight. For reference, here is a review on recommended weight gain during pregnancy: 

1. Underweight

The BMI of an underweight woman is 18.5 or less:

  • The weight she should gain during pregnancy is about 28-40 lbs;
  • The average weight gain per week during 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy is 0.5-0.6 kg (or 0.8 to 1.0 lbs.)

2. Normal Weight

The BMI of a normal woman is in between 18.5 and 24.9:

  • The weight she should gain during pregnancy is about 25-35 lbs;
  • The average weight gain per week during 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy is 0.4-0.5 kg (1 to 1.3 lbs.)

3. Overweight

The BMI of an overweight woman is in between 25 and 29.9:

  • The weight she should gain during pregnancy is about 7- 11.5 kg;
  • The average weight gain per week during 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy is 0.2 - 0.3 kg (0.5 to 0.7 lbs.)

4. Obese

The BMI of an obese woman is 30 or more:

  • The weight she should gain during pregnancy is about 11-20 lbs;
  • The average weight gain per week during 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy is 0.2 - 0.3 kg (0.5 to 0.7 lbs).

5. Women Carrying Multiples

  • Normal weighted woman who are carrying multiples should gain 37-54 lbs;
  • Overweight woman should gain about 31-50 lbs;
  • Obese woman should gain about 25-42 lbs during the pregnancy period.

What Are the Dangers of Gaining Too Much Weight During Pregnancy?

Gaining too much weight while pregnant can bring about some risks, such as:

1. Inaccurate Results of Ultrasound

It can become very difficult for the doctor to carefully examine the growth of fetus if you have too much body fat. Inaccurate ultrasound result may also restrict the doctor from diagnosing serious problems that may require immediate treatment. 

2. Enhanced Discomfort

Pregnancy causes discomforts and uneasiness, and gaining too much weight can multiply this discomfort several folds. Overweight expecting mommies report recurrent and much severe episodes of exhaustion, heartburn, calf cramps, hemorrhoids and body pain. Even the process of labor is much tougher in obese women.

3. Increased Blood Pressure

Higher body weight can increase the risk of developing circulatory disturbances, such as gestational hypertension. It is usually diagnosed during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy and may complicate the delivery if not managed appropriately.

4. Preeclampsia

It is a serious and persistent state of hypertension that damages kidney and liver and increases the risk of other complications, like placental abruption, IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), etc.

5. Gestational Diabetes

Obese expecting mommies during pregnancy can also develop gestational diabetes, which is a serious condition. Affected women are at very high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in future.

6. Need for C Section

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can also make the baby larger than normal, so vaginal delivery may need the help of forceps or vacuum. You may have to deliver by C-section which can give you a hard time afterwards.

7. Other Risks

  • Baby can be born premature if mother is overweight, which makes the baby prone to health risks such as breathing problems, learning and developmental challenges, etc.
  • Babies may have birth problems, like neural tube problems or heart issues
  • You may find it very difficult to lose weight after delivery, which makes you obese and increase your risk of getting high BP, heart problems and diabetes,

How to Deal With or Prevent Excessive Weight Gain During Pregnancy?

If you realize that you are gaining too much weight during pregnancy, do not panic. You can still control your weight in the middle of pregnancy. Some tips to keep the pregnancy weight under control are listed here:

1. Control Your Cravings

Cravings during pregnancy are normal and can help fulfill your body's nutrient requirements. The best way to satisfy your cravings and control the growth of your body weight is to consume what you're craving for in limited serving, especially when you are craving for unhealthy foods.

2. Eating for Two Doesn't Mean Eat Twice as Much

During 1st-trimester, you should avoid extra calories. During 2nd trimester, you can get 340 extra calories per day and in 3rdyou can enjoy up to 450 extra calories per day. In case you are very dynamic or active, you can consume some extra calories to avoid weakness.

  • Take extra calories from healthy food and avoid unhealthy sugar and fats. Consider multiple sources for calories and don't restrict to one food group. Great foods to ear include lean protein, vegetables, whole grain, etc. And foods to avoid include fat, sugar, salt, etc.
  • To avoid all time hunger, choose filling but low calorie foods which you can eat freely in large amount without gaining extra weight, like rice cakes, popcorn, salads, yogurt, raw vegetable, soups, oatmeal, fresh fruits, etc.

3. Take Frequent But Small Meals

Eat throughout the day in small portions to meet nutritional requirements of the body. You can eat healthy meals and snacks 5-6 times per day with gaps of 2-3 hours to keep you away from gestational diabetes and other health problems. Besides, you can keep small sized snacks at home on hand.

4. Drinking Enough Water Makes Things Easier

Drink about 10 cups of water per day to transfer nutrients to the baby and avoid health problems. Consume drinks that are not fattening and free from processed sugars like decaf coffee or tea, fruit juices.

5. Do Proper Exercise to Benefit You and Your Baby

The last but equal important method in dealing with gaining too much weight during pregnancy is to do exercise regularly.

  • Engage yourself in light exercises like swimming, walking and stationary bike cycling. Do not perform vigorous exercises.
  • Exercising is easy if you continue exercises that you use to do before getting pregnant, but they shouldn't be forceful.
  • If you had a sedentary lifestyle, start with regular walk or few laps of swimming. Start with 5 minutes per day and try to reach 30 minutes per day.
  • While exercising, warm up, cool down and drink fluids.
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