Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Understanding Pregnancy Weight Gain

One of the biggest adjustments for me has been weight gain. The biggest struggle for me has been allowing myself to gain the weight. After a conversation with my mom, who told me that she didn't think it was a good idea to gain as much weight as the the doctor was suggesting.  So I went through a big research phase. After reading multiple sources I feel better about the weight gain and understand why there is a target number of pounds to gain. I know that this is a struggle a lot of women face. In America, there is a lot of pressure put on women regarding their body image and during pregnancy there are so many changes to your body and the biggest one is that your body gets bigger...!

Here is what I learned about baby weight gain:
(Please keep in mind that your doctor is the best advisor on your weight gain. These numbers are general guidelines, you may be an exception to the rule..!)
  • If you are at a healthy weight and BMI then your target weight gain is 25-35 pounds.
  • If you are under weight with a low BMI then your target weight gain is 28-40 pounds.
  • If you are overweight with a high BMI then your target weight gain is 15-25 pounds.
  • If you are Obese with a too high BMI then your target weight gain is 15 pounds (unless directed otherwise by your doctor).   
You want me to gain how much...? Why is all that weight necessary?
Here is the break down for how the weight is distributed based on a 25-35 pound target. Please keep in mind that some of these numbers will fluctuate but some of them are very necessary, especially if you want to breast feed.

    • Maternal Store (fat, protein, and other nutrients) = 7 pounds
    • Increased Fluid = 4 pounds
    • Increased Blood = 4 pounds
    • Breast Growth = 2 pounds
    • Uterus = 2 pounds
    • Baby (based on an average weight) = 7.5 pounds
    • Amniotic Fluid = 2 pounds
    • Placenta = 1.5 pounds
 For me, seeing the distribution of the weight gain really helped me to understand why I need to gain. When I am feeling discouraged because my clothes are not fitting right, I have to take my wedding ring off because I am swelling up,  or I feel guilty for eating yet another snack; I take a look at this chart and remind myself that gaining weight is exactly what I am supposed to be doing!!!

Okay, so I am going to have to gain some weight...how many calories a day is that...?
The American Dietetic Association  has put some great information out there about nutrition and your pregnancy. This is what they suggest for calorie intake during pregnancy:

  • On a whole pregnant women need 2,200-2,900 calories a day.
  • During the 1st trimester you do not need to increase calories.
  • During the 2nd trimester you need to increase your calorie intake by 347 calories a day.
  • During the 3rd trimester you need to increase your calorie intake to an extra 452 a day.  

How do I navigate the weight gain?
My doctor helped me with some questions to ask myself when I am worrying about my weight gain. I ask myself these questions when I am feeling down about my body image: Do I want to have a healthy baby? Is it important to me to breast feed? Is it important to me to stay healthy and have plenty of energy? How would I feel if I did harm to myself and my baby because of vanity?

I also comfort myself by knowing that I am active and walking every day now and I will not stop exercising when the baby is born. I do my best to make good food choices, if I am not putting super fat into my body so I am not gaining super fat but a healthy baby. I also keep in mind that on delivery day I will loose around 11-12 pounds (Baby, Placenta, Amniotic Fluid,) that is almost half of what I will have gained!

Sources:
American Dietetic Association
American Pregnancy Association
Graves, Ginny; Pregnancy Fitness: Mind, Body, Spirit (pgs 14 & 124)

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