I cannot remember how many times I have heard pregnant women say “I am eating for two now.” What they seem to forget is when you put the weight on (excessively) when you are pregnant, you have to take it off after you have your baby.
Being pregnant does not mean you should gain a lot of weight. The baby will get the nourishment it needs from the mother. Eating well will ensure you remain healthy throughout your pregnancy. It is seldom pregnant women know what the actual poundage gained includes.
When I was pregnant with my sons, I didn’t think too much about weight gain. I just ate as I normally did. My weight gain with both sons was right at 20 pounds. I retained about 3 pounds of that weight after they were born. My youngest son will soon be 38 years old, and at that time I did not have resources such as the internet available to find information about things such as this.
According to the Mayo Clinic, if you gain more weight than is recommended, you increase the probability of problems during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes. You can also jeopardize the health of your baby before it is even born as well as putting the child at risk for childhood obesity. Excessive weight gain can also put your health at risk later on if you do not lose the weight after the birth.
For those who are underweight a weight gain of 28-40 pounds is recommended. If you are of average weight 25-30 pounds is acceptable. If you are overweight they recommend 15-20 pounds. Those who are obese should gain between 11-20 pounds. These numbers are derived based on your body mass index (BMI). If you are pregnant with twins the numbers will change and should be discussed with your doctor.
Being overweight before pregnancy can also cause gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Those two factors can also jeopardize having a healthy baby. If you are overweight/obese before pregnancy your doctor could recommend weight gain which is lower than the guidelines. That is something you should discuss with your doctor.
Let’s look at the weight distribution. I will use the amounts for average weight mothers and babies.
The baby weighs 8 pounds, your breasts will be larger and will account for about 2 pounds, the uterus is 2 pounds, the placenta is 1 ½ pounds, amniotic fluid is 2 pounds, increased blood volume is 3 pounds, fluid volume is 3 pounds and the rest of your weight gain would be fat. The numbers above total 21 ½ pounds, which is what would be called “baby weight.”
If the average weight mother-to-be gains 30 pounds (the highest number recommended) that would mean she would have 8 ½ pounds to lose after the baby is born in order to return to her pre-pregnancy weight. If you gained 40 pounds you will now have 18 pounds to lose.
The bottom line is not the numbers; it is the health issues. If you want to have a healthy baby at birth (as well as into childhood), then watching the scales is important. It is important for you as well because for every extra pound you carry you increase your chances of health. It may not seem important to you now because it may be easy for you to lose weight. Take it from me, the older you get the more difficult it is to lose those pounds. My Mother used to say it is a lot easier to put that weight on than it is to take it off.