The Heavy Truth About Weight Gain During Pregnancy

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If there’s one thing that I can’t stand, it’s the sight of all the tabloids stacked up at the checkout lines by Villa and Gourmet Market. Every other month, their glossy covers feature photos of fabulous-looking, heavily airbrushed new mamas grinning in their bikinis and slinky evening gowns. These women inevitably sport flowing, flawless hair, a size-4 body, and enviable abs.

Weight gain during pregnancy

Here’s a shocker for you: I didn’t look like Kate Middleton, Kim Kardashian or Jessica Alba a month after giving birth. Let’s set aside the makeup and the hair and the perfectly coordinated outfits (as if new mothers actually have time to manage such luxuries) and cut to the heart of the issue: without disclosing too much, I wasn’t anywhere near a size 4. In fact, it took a significant amount of time and a whole lot of work before I could wriggle back into my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans.

Some women may possess superhuman metabolisms and personal trainers, but I expect that the majority of new mothers have stories closer to mine. And while I resented not being able to squeeze into my old pencil skirts at first, the simple truth is that a certain amount of weight gain during pregnancy is normal, necessary and healthy.

So here are a five things to bear in mind if you’re an expecting mother and that number on the scale frightens you. Remember to breathe, that you do not have to resemble a magazine cover, and that what you’re going through is probably very normal.

  1. During a normal pregnancy, women of normal weight and height should expect to gain 11 to 16 kilograms. This might seem like quite a lot, especially by the third trimester, but it’s completely normal. If you work it out, this is roughly 1 to 2 kilos a week for the first trimester, then a little under a kilo a week for the rest of your pregnancy. These numbers can vary, of course, so it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor first at the beginning of your pregnancy and see what is a realistic number for you to expect.
  2. The majority of the extra weight comes with the pregnancy and will eventually go. There’s a whole lot going on inside the body during pregnancy. You’ve got a larger uterus, a placenta, amniotic fluid, extra breast tissue, a dramatically increased blood supply (almost 2 kilos!) and, obviously, a fetus. All of that goes away with time after giving birth though, so relax.
  3. Your body stores up a certain amount of extra fat for breastfeeding. There’s a good reason that mother’s milk is considered the best: it’s jam-packed with nutrients and very high in calories. This means that your body wants to save up an extra 4 kilos or so to make sure there’s enough energy when the time comes.
  4. The amount you should gain varies if you are already over- or underweight. Again, this is why you should talk to your doctor. If you’re already overweight, you may only need to gain 6 kilos, while underweight women will have to make a concerted effort to pack extra kilos on.
  5. If you gain too much weight, it’s usually better to wait until after pregnancy to lose it. Okay, maybe some of the extra weight has more to do with camping out with a container of Häagen-Dazs at 2 a.m. (I admit to nothing) than it has to do with amniotic fluid. You still have to make sure that your growing baby gets the nutrients it needs–meaning this is no time to start a juice cleanse. Unless you’re severely obese and acting under doctor’s orders, save any drastic dieting for after the birth and concentrate on being healthy.

Photo Credit: Emery Co Photo via Compfight cc

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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