WEIGHT GAIN DURING PREGNANCY

A topic that can be controversial, overwhelming and at times difficult to accept.

If the thought of jumping on the scales each week and seeing your weight increase despite regular exercise and a healthy diet scares you, you are not alone.  However when you are growing a little human inside of you, expect to see the numbers on the scales increase from month to month.

If the thought of eating for two excites you and has you going back for seconds for dinner or saying yes more often to the lunchroom cakes, think again. The initial stages of pregnancy actually requires very little change in your daily energy intake, so it’s time to put down the ice cream (sorry to be the bearer of bad news) as your body just does not need excessive additional kilojoules at this stage, but more on nutrition during pregnancy in one of my blogs to be released shortly.

When it comes to weight gain during pregnancy, there is no one size fits all approach (much the same as diets and exercise). Those of smaller frames and lower pre-pregnancy BMI’s (less than 18.5kg/m) are encouraged to gain more weight during pregnancy than those of normal or overweight BMI’s as it helps to reduce the risk of delivering a low for gestational age infant. However high weight gain can be associated with other complications. Mummy’s to be that are carrying extra weight and falling into the overweight or obese categories on the BMI chart (25 – 29kg/m & above 30kg/m), prior to falling pregnant are encouraged to gain less weight throughout the course of their pregnancy. This assists in reducing the risk of delivering a large for gestational age infant (weighing more than 9 pound) and other pregnancy complications associated with weight gain such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and post partum hemorrhage.

What is right for you?

Try not to focus on numbers. Any studies show that the overall the average recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy are between 11 – 16kg and again these vary greatly from each expecting mother due to the variety of personal and pre-pregnancy weight factors.

Weight gain in the first trimester is relatively small with a total of about 1-2kg. This increases in the second and third trimesters with an average gain of about 0.4kg/week. Again, this is varying for everyone, but can help to be used as a guide. If you spend the first 12 weeks becoming best friends with your toilet bowl, you might find that you actually lose weight in the first trimester. Or you might put on 5-6 kg in the first and then notice that this slows during the second and third.  Those that had a higher pre-pregnancy weight may actually find they lose weight due to following a healthier diet and trying to incorporate regular activity into their week. As hard as it may be initially, try not to compare yourself to anyone else during this time. This goes for post pregnancy weight loss also. Every one is different. As long as you are fuelling your body correctly, eating a variety of nutritious whole foods and incorporating regular movement, your body will do what it needs to do and take care of the rest.

Where does the weight come from?

Try not to stress over weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Look at these 9 months as a chance to fuel your body to grow a healthy mini-me and enjoy the break from high intensity and impact exercise (something I initially struggled to come to terms with, now I am loving it!). The reason I say stress less is because when looking at the percentage of total weight gain during pregnancy in a normal, healthy pregnancy only about 26 – 30% is from body fat. The remainder comes down to the fetus (27%), extracellular/vascular fluid (15%) and blood (10%), with the uterus, placenta, amniotic fluid, and mammary glands accounting for the rest. Are you feeling puffy and like you are retaining fluid? Don’t stress, overall water accounts for over half of the maternal weight gained during pregnancy and will disappear soon after you give birth to you little miracle.

What are my thoughts?

As a coach I encourage regular tracking of various measures depending on my clients goals. Subject to these goals, regular tracking is a good tool to monitor your weight gain both when you are or are not experiencing pregnancy. You do not have to weigh yourself weekly, or at all if for that matter! I know many mum’s that didn’t step onto the scales at al during their pregnancy besides their mid wife appointments, however if you are one to pay a little more attention to detail or know that you have trouble making the right food choices, then it can assist with making sure that you aren’t gaining excessive amounts of weight, or not enough.

For me, the scales have never been my friend and I prefer to use other techniques such as measuring my waist and hips to track my progress - particularly when I was competing. Each to there own for monitoring weight/measurements, I am not saying there is a right or wrong way to do this. For many, your doctor or mid wife may take regular measurements for you and you may find that that is enough. For me, I have found that weekly measurements are great to record in my pregnancy diary and when looking back over the weeks, I am in awe at my body changing to accommodate our little human. I actually also found this regular method reassuring. During my first trimester and early in my second trimester my weight wasn’t changing much at all and it took sometime for my bloat to actually look like a baby belly however my measurements were going up. This helped me to see that I was still growing and things were going the right way.

Since falling pregnant I have taken weekly measurements of the following and recorded in my pregnancy diary:

·       Weight (kg)

·       Waist (cms)

·       Belly button (cms) (this is a great one, as tends to be where I am getting a lot of growth)

·       Hips (cms)

·       Bust (cms)

Again, you do not need to follow this; I am simply sharing the tools I use to monitor my pregnancy. If I miss a week of recording I don’t stress.

Overall

If you are concerned about your weight gain or loss throughout pregnancy always speak to your doctor. Whilst is can be difficult having to step out of your favourite One Teaspoon shorts, go up a size in the underwear department and upgrade the work wardrobe, try to embrace the journey that your body is headed on. Pregnancy is most certainly not the time to be dieting or restricting your food intake (unless you have been advised to by your doctor). You don’t have to make friends with the scales, but make sure you do make friends with salad both during and after your pregnancy.

Make sure you are choosing plenty of fresh, whole, healthy foods to give your baby the best head start possible and keep up the regular activity; the benefits of this to your physical and mental health and baby are countless! 

Brooke x

P.S stay tuned for an upcoming blog on nutrition during pregnancy.