Pregnancy brings about a lot of changes in the body of an expecting mother. Her body’s natural physiology changes and prepares her to nurture a new life in her body. Naturally, there is a tendency to retain water in her body and this brings about a lot of other changes as a result.
Ideal weight gain in pregnancy
According to RCOG guidelines, there is a certain limit to weight gain during pregnancy. It depends upon the weight at the time of pregnancy. If a woman’s BMI is between 18 and 25 she can gain pregnancy weight conveniently from 25 to 30 pounds.
If her BMI is above 25 but below 29.9, she needs to watch how much weight she is allowed to gain. The pregnancy weight she can put on must not exceed 20 pounds. Women above the BMI of 30 are not allowed to gain weight more than 12-18 pounds.
Causes of weight gain in pregnancy
There are certain factors that contribute to an overall increase in weight of the pregnant woman. These factors include;
- The increasing size of the baby is itself the most important reason to increase in the mother’s weight. A normal fetus at term should be around 2.5 to 3.5 kilograms which makes a maximum of 8 pounds. So 8 pounds is due to the baby.
- Placenta at term measure about 1.5 to 2 kilograms which make around 2-5 pounds. This is also one of the factors of pregnancy weight gain.
- Amniotic fluid produced in the body also carries quite an amount of weight and adds up to 2-4 pounds of the total weight gained by the mother by the time she reaches term.
- Blood vessels especially uterine vessels also dilate and increase in size and number and also make some of the weight gained by the mother. They also make up to 4 pounds increase in body weight.
- Breast tissue becomes larger in size during pregnancy. The ducts increase and get engorged and this contributes to around two to three pounds of weight.
- The uterus also increases in size and this also contributes to an increase in the weight of the pregnant mother. Enlarged uterine tissue contributes about two to five pounds to the weight
- Water retention in the body is also one of the factors of weight gain and sometimes swelling of feet and
overallbody. However, excessive retention is not a good sign and it must be ruled out especially if the mother has developed pregnancy-induced hypertension.
Pregnancy weight gain
Weight gain in pregnancy must be tracked every week and maintaining a chart for this is a good option. It may be noticed that a woman may lose some pounds at the beginning of pregnancy due to morning sickness.
The aim of a woman with a normal BMI is to gain at least 25 to 30 pounds of weight. She must ideally gain one pound every week. If the weight gain is more or less than the expected weight she must consult her obstetrician for further evaluation.