Where does that pregnancy weight go?

The question of how much pregnancy weight a woman should gain throughout her three trimesters is one that has been debated and changed numerous times over the last few generations. But the bigger question from expectant mothers isn’t how much, but rather where is all that weight going?

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“My baby weighed 6 pounds and 14 ounces, yet I gained 27 pounds. Where was the rest of that weight at?”

“I’m 5 months pregnant and so far I’ve gained 7 pounds. My doctor doesn’t seem to think that’s a problem, but my sister in-law is pregnant too. She’s 8 months pregnant and has already gained 22 pounds. Why is there such a big difference?”

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How much pregnancy weight should you gain?

Good question-one with more than one correct answer. The amount of pregnancy weight you gain depends on a) a single baby or multiples birth b) your pre-pregnancy weight and your BMI (body mass index).

Once you have determined your BMI, use the following chart to help you determine what your pregnancy weight gain should be.

  • A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9: weight gain should be 25-35 pounds
  • A BMI of 18.5 or less (underweight pre-pregnancy) merits a weight gain of 28-40 pounds
  • A BMI of 25-29.9: weight gain should be limited to 15-25 pounds
  • A BMI of 30 or over indicates obesity. If this is your situation, you should gain between 11-20 pounds

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The following breakdown is based on averages. No one will hit the mark exactly, so while this is a great guide, it’s not an exact science.

  • Baby:      7-8 pounds
  • Placenta:      1-2 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
  • Uterus: 2 pounds
  • Maternal breast tissue: 2 pounds
  • Maternal blood : 4 pounds
  • Fluids in maternal tissue: 4 pounds
  • Maternal fat and nutrient stores: 7 pounds

Am I on target?

Elizabeth spent the first 13-14 weeks of her pregnancy barely able to keep anything down. She ate a few fresh veggies and pasta. As a nurse, she knew it wasn’t the end of the world-that her situation would likely get better. She also knew that her morning sickness was a factor in her gaining only 6 pounds by the time she was 6 months pregnant. Her ultrasound showed a baby that was healthy and thriving-weighing in at 2 pounds-just where she should be at that point in gestation.

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During the first trimester, your pregnancy weight gain will be minimal – 1 to 4.5 pounds. This is due to morning sickness and/or the fact that the fetus and everything else associated with the pregnancy is still small.

Your second and third trimesters should show a pregnancy weight gain of 1-2 pounds per week. The majority of this will be taking place that last 3-5 weeks, with the baby gaining an average of an ounce per day.

NOTE: This information is based on a woman giving birth to a single baby. The figures for a multiples pregnancy will be greater but NOT doubled.

Healthy eating and weight habits during pregnancy

When you are pregnant, you need to eat a well-balanced diet of 3 meals a day and 3 snacks a day. Make sure you include plenty of protein and fats that come from nuts and eggs. Meats should be lean and fish is great-as long as you limit tuna to once a week (maxiumum).

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Take a good quality pre-natal vitamin, drink plenty of water, limit caffeine and sugar and drink only juices that are made from real juice. Avoid junk food, too much sugar and herbal supplements and medications not prescribed by your doctor.

As for exercise, walking is always good, as is recreational swimming, bowling, yoga and pilates for pregnant women. It is IMPORTANT that you check with your doctor before doing any sort of exercise.

Taking care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy will help to prevent leg and back pain, varicose veins, gestational diabetes, premature delivery and the need for cesarean deliveries.

SO…be healthy, be smart and enjoy this wonderful, miraculous time of your life.

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