Whether you have a smaller frame, or larger frame, weight gain during pregnancy is something that we will all experience. After all, we are growing an entire human being inside of our bodies. But, what is normal when it comes to pregnancy weight gain? Is is possible to gain too little, or too much weight?
The recommended weight gain for a woman of average size is 25 – 35 lbs, 28 – 40 lbs if the woman is underweight, and 15 – 25 lbs if she is overweight. The reason for this is because being severely underweight or severely overweight, can possibly increase your risk for preterm birth, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or a cesarean delivery. Now, it’s important to not stress about these specific numbers and overthink it too much. Gaining a bit less, or a bit more, than suggested is considered perfectly safe! It’s most important to make sure that you’re eating nutritious food, because whatever you eat, baby eats. If you’re naturally slim and are able to constantly eat vegan junk food and not gain much weight, that is great. However, just because you’re not gaining much weight, doesn’t mean that you have a lower risk for gestational diabetes. A larger woman who is eating salads and smoothies will have a lower risk for gestational diabetes than the slender woman who is eating cookies.
Eating enough of the right calories is crucial for having a healthy pregnancy, don’t get me wrong, cravings are real and it is not bad to give in to them! That being said, the majority of your food and drink intake should be nourishing for yourself and your growing baby. In the first trimester, it is perfectly normal for a women to gain anywhere between 1 – 4.5 lbs total, during the second and third trimester, a woman may gain anywhere from 1 – 2 lbs per week. Clearly the woman who gains only 1lb per week will weigh much less in the end than the woman who gained 2 lbs per week. This is why we cannot compare ourselves to others, because the scale of what is considered ‘normal’ is incredibly broad. The main concern comes in when you are drastically on either end of the spectrum, whether way overweight or way underweight. It’s important to be sure that during the first trimester you are consuming a minimum of 1,800 calories per day, 2,200 during the second trimester and 2,400 during the third trimester. The amount you need to consume would increase if you are exercising daily. Often during the first trimester some women feel queasy and have a lower appetite, this cannot be helped and all you can do is your best! Also, during the third trimester many women feel as though their stomach is being pushed on and there is not as much room for food. This is perfectly normal and smaller, more frequent meals can help, rather than fewer larger meals.
It’s also important to understand where exactly this weight is going, so that you don’t feel as though you are just putting on ‘useless fat’, because that could not be further from the truth. By the end of pregnancy roughly 7.5 lbs (very much give or take) is how much your baby may weigh, 4 lbs is increased fluid volume, 2 lbs is breast tissue, 1.5 lbs goes to the placenta, 2 lbs is how much the uterus will weigh, 4 lbs is for excess blood volume, 2 lbs is amniotic fluid and merely 7 lbs is your body storing protein and other nutrients. This adds up to the 30 lbs that you were wondering where it came from, as you can see, it is not useless and you certainly shouldn’t be concerned about it. Clearly, each pound has a purpose up to a certain extent, only when women gain more than 40+ lbs does that extra weight turn into fat storage.
While it is important to be sure you’re gaining enough weight, or not gaining too much, remember to not compare yourself to the other pregnant women. Eat as best as you can, but listen to those (vegan) food cravings and try to enjoy your pregnancy! It can be challenging enough sometimes, without worrying about the numbers. Personally, I chose to weigh myself once at the very beginning of pregnancy and then once at the very end. I wasn’t concerned with the number and neither was my midwife. If you feel good, eat intuitively, check in with your midwife or doctor regularly and are fairly active… don’t stress! Your body is doing an absolutely incredible thing and deserves all of the self love and care it can get.