It is a scientifically proven fact that weight gain in pregnancy is a natural and an essential phenomenon. There is nothing to worry if one is gaining weight during pregnancy. Weight gain during pregnancy cannot be linked with obesity because obesity is defined as an increase in the body weight due to excessive accumulation of fats. Whereas, weight gain during pregnancy occurs because of the weight of the embryo developing in the mother’s womb and maintaining an adequate weight is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Studies have shown that, normally one can gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.
Misconception about Weight Gain in Pregnancy
It is completely natural and healthy to put on weight during pregnancy, this is because it is essential for mothers to support growth and development of the baby. It has been seen that some people restrict themselves to lean into the prescribed diet routines in fear of gaining weight. But this can lead to deficiency of proper nutrients in the baby, stunted growth and risk of heart disease in the later stages of child’s growth.
Pregnant women should follow pregnancy diet loaded with nutrients, whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Instead, they should minimize the content of added fats and partially hydrogenated oils.
Women, particularly in developing country like India, some or in other way are deprived of proper education and knowledge regarding pregnancies that eventually lead to the generation of misconceptions regarding weight gain in pregnancy and obesity.
Research have suggested that obesity is an aftermath of pregnancy because of the body’s incapability to easily get back into the previous shape after delivering a baby. Obesity after pregnancy happens not because women take-in excess amount of calories and fatty acids in their diet, but because of psychosomatic disorders of coping up with the stresses of ‘being –a- mother ‘ that further leads to disrupted body mechanism, weight gain and eventually onset of obesity. Retaining the normal body weight after pregnancy is a slow but achievable process and can be accomplished through proper regular exercise, balanced diet and above all positive will power.
How much weight should one gain during pregnancy?
The required body weight during pregnancy completely depends on the mother’s body weight before and after conceiving. Listed here are the reasons behind weight gain –
- The placenta, which keeps the baby nourished weighs 0.7kg (1.5lb)
- The amniotic fluid that supports and cushions the baby weighs 8kg (1.8lb)
- As the baby develops, it reaches an approximate weight of 3.3kgs during birth.
The two-third of the extra weight is due to the changes that happen to the body while you are pregnant. On an average:
- The muscle layer of your womb (uterus) grows dramatically and weighs an extra 0.9 Kg (2lb)
- Mothers blood volume increases and weighs an extra 1.2kg (2.6lb)
- The breast weighs extra (0.4kg)
- Mothers store fats of about 4kg (8.8lb), to give energy for breastfeeding
Consequences of being overweight when a lady conceives
It is a known fact that excess of anything is bad. If a mother is obese even before pregnancy, carrying a lot of weight at the start of pregnancy can increase the risk of complications during the entire 40 weeks. The problems include-
- High blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
According to research, an increase around 6kg in an overweight mother with an average height in between the first or second pregnancies increase the risk of their baby dying in its first year of life. Findings also reveal an incremental increase in the risk of stillbirth with excessive weight gain in pregnancy. Even weight loss between pregnancies reduced the likelihood of neonatal death of babies of overweight women. Gaining weight during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth by 30-50 percent.
According to a recent study, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in pregnant women has reached epidemic levels.
How to gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy
In order to gain proper and adequate amount of weight during pregnancy, one can follow the below tips:
- Eating five to six small meals every day with proper gaps,
- Keeping quick, easy healthy snacks on hand, such as- nuts, raisins, cheese, dried fruits, ice-cream, yogurt, etc.,
- Spreading peanut butter on toast, crackers, apple, or bananas or celery, as one tablespoon of creamy peanut butter provided you about 100 calories and 7 grams of protein, Adding non-fat powdered milk to mashed potatoes, eating scrambled eggs and hot cereals and much more.
To conclude, it is imperative to give complete training regarding the whole process of gestation period including all the essential elements. Several findings have highlighted the importance of educating women about maintaining a healthy weight gain in pregnancy and reducing excess weight before becoming pregnant as a way to improve the overall growth and development of both the baby and the mother.