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Weight gain in pregnancy

What's normal weight gain, what isn't, and why you should keep a healthy balance in your diet.


Posted: 20 March 2009
by Laura Lee Davies


In a Radio 4 interview, a pregnant woman was heard breathlessly talking from the gym, where she was busy working out to counter her changing body's growth. She used phrases like 'putting on weight' and 'feel in control', as if having a baby was on a par with eating too many cream buns. How sad that she couldn't enjoy what was happening inside her and what a shock she's going to get when motherhood springs on her. She will feel far from 'in control' then, and tragically, she may well not enjoy those physical, mental and emotional changes that occur - many of them for the better!

What is normal weight gain?
With a growing baby inside you, it would be rather worrying not to see any change in your own body's weight during pregnancy.
However, in the early weeks, you may well not notice any change at all. Indeed, if you suffer from morning sickness, this will probably see your weight go down a little, unfortunately. Don't worry that your baby isn't getting enough nutrition. Try to eat healthily when you do manage to eat, for your own sake. Your baby will be drawing on your body's existing reserves in the early weeks, and will not need a great deal from you.
If you're like me, having to keep off those delicious but hideously fatty soft cheeses - unsafe to eat during pregnancy because they can trigger food poisoning - you might well see some weight loss, too. Again, so long as you're eating fairly healthily then you shouldn't worry about your weight going down. In fact, with the extra bump you'll be carrying later, a bit of natural weight loss now (but NOT on a diet full of chemically-induced low fats etc) will help in the months ahead.
When you get to the third month of your pregnancy you might see a little weight gain each week (about half a pound) and then into the fourth month and beyond you might see an increase more like a pound a week. You regular check-ups with the midwife or doctor will allow your progress to be monitored and only in extreme cases where there is no weight gain at all or where there is excessively high weight gain, will there be cause for concern.
Try not to obsess about it yourself. Your habits will have changed - less hectic workouts if you're used to them, more naps if you're finding pregnancy makes you tired, more snacks at your desk to guard against feeling sick or dizzy at work - so just keep an eye on feeling good inside and out, instead.

What is 'eating healthily'?
You probably know in your heart of hearts that fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish - but not mercury-heavy fish like shark or swordfish - are sensible. Being pregnant, you will get more hungry in the later months and you shouldn't feel guilty about keeping snacks in your bag. If you starve yourself you will have dizzy spells and could do yourself harm. It is better to snack on nuts or trail mix than on bags of crisps and chocolate bars because, despite being calorific, they release energy more efficiently and will fuel you rather than simply filling you with fat. However, don't give yourself a hard time - sometimes a Mars bar is the best option to hand!
Read more ThinkBaby advice about diet and nutrition in pregnancy here.

When is weight a worry?
Beyond about 12 weeks, you should see some weight increase. If you don't feel like eating too much - sometimes the growing baby makes a woman feel 'full' or queasy, or eating brings on heartburn - then try to make sure the small amount you do eat is packed with nutrients. A banana or a bowl of fortified cereal, or a slice of wholemeal toast rather than white bread, for example.
Your baby will draw from your existing resources but it's important for your own well-being now and in the years to come, to keep up your vitamins and other nutrients during pregnancy.
If there is no change or no increase at all, your doctor or obstetrician might want you to have an extra scan, just to have the fetus measured to check the baby is growing adequately. This is usually purely precautionary and not a cause for undue worry.
If the doctor feels the baby is fine, he or she is likely to simply suggest certain foods to add to your diet to keep your own health and well-being up. In extreme cases of Hyperemesis Gravida then a woman might be treated in hospital to ensure intake of vital nutrients for her and her baby. But this is very rare.


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Do you find it hard to eat enough 'fuel' for your baby or do you enjoy that extra donut each day because you deserve it?!

Posted: 24/04/2006 at 11:12

when i was carrying emily-jade i had ballooned to nearly 12 stone from 9 stone by the time i was 20 weeks. i did eat lots though and huge portions too. i looked like a completely different person. towards the end of the pregnancy i couldnt manage a lot so i ate little but often. i couldn't go half an hour without eating or i felt like i was starving and light-headed. i enjoyed the excuse for chocolate though-it was well worth the heartburn.
luckily im back to 9stone now and eating normal portions of food at normal times. i still cant believe how i looked when i look at the photo's now. i'd put 1 up in the gallery but im way too embarrassed-i was huge!

Posted: 24/04/2006 at 21:40

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