Pregnancy is a period when a woman carries a baby inside her womb and the normal duration of pregnancy is about 40 weeks. Pregnancy is divided in to three trimesters and each last for three months. Weight gain during pregnancy is very common and most of the women gain some weight during the first trimester and there after the tendency to gain weight increases during the second trimester up to 32 weeks of gestation and there after the weight gain process slows down.
This is because during the first trimester the morning sickness, nausea etc limits the weight gain and from the second trimester on wards most of the women get over the common issues of morning sickness and vomiting and hence they tend to gain more weight during the next two trimesters. The amount of weight that a pregnant woman puts on depends up on her height, pre-conception body weight, eating habits, heredity, race, lifestyle etc. Moreover the fat tissues, amniotic fluid, placenta etc that are formed inside the womb to hold a life also adds to the weight along with the weight of the baby. The baby gains more weight during the last trimester and hence the maximum weight of the pregnant women happens during this period.
What Should be the Pregnancy Weight
Most of the women gains around 10 to 15 kg during their pregnancy and is absolutely normal and healthy. But certain women gain 20 to 25 kg during their pregnancy this may lead to complications during pregnancy. Pregnant women having a low body mass index of 18.9 or less at the time of conception have to gain about 12.5 to 18 kg during her gestational period as they need more fat deposits to maintain pregnancy and breast feeding while those having a healthy body mass index ranging from 19 to 24.9 can gain 11.5 to 16 kg during their entire pregnancy.
Women having high body mass index of 25 to 29.9 should gain only 7 to 11.5 kg during their pregnancy and those obese women having body mass index of above 29.9 should limit their weight gain to 7 kg else the chances to develop gestational diabetes are more. Women having twins may gain more weight than those having one baby and a woman of healthy body mass index can gain 17 to 25 kg while completing her pregnancy but high body mass index women can gain 14 to 22 kg and obese women should limit her weight gain to 11 to 19 kg.
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The weight a pregnant woman gains during pregnancy helps to provide nourishment to the developing baby and is also used to store for producing breast milk to feed the baby after delivery. Reduced weight gain or excessive weight gain during pregnancy is not ideal as reduced weight gain may affect both the mental as well as physical development of the baby while excessive weight gain may cause high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes etc. Remaining underweight also increases the chances for having preterm labor. Hence a right type of weight gain at a steady rate and at recommended boundaries helps to avoid varicose vein, stretch marks, back pain, fatigue, hemorrhoid, shortness of breath etc and helps to a have a healthy baby.
What Accounts to Pregnancy Weight
By the completion of gestational period the muscular layers within the uterus grows to provide comfort to the baby and this increases the weight by about 0.9kg while the placenta that provides all the nutrients to the growing baby accounts to 0.5kg. The amniotic fluid present in the amniotic sac where the baby lies as well as the extra fluid in the body together weigh around 2.6 kg. Blood volume of pregnant women increases and this accounts to 1.2 kg. By the time a woman complete her gestational period the size of her breast also increases as milk glands and fat build up in the breast and this increases the breast weight up to 0.4kg.
Major part of the pregnancy weight is due the weight of the baby and a normal baby would weigh between 2.8 to 3.3 kg. Besides all these there will be fat deposits in the body which later aids in providing some extra energy for breastfeeding and this fat deposits weight around 2.5 kg. The healthy weight gain during pregnancy is as given above and as per this a woman gains 10.5 to 11 kg and any weight above this are the fat deposits.
Tips to Avoid the Excess Weight Gain
In order to gain healthy weight, pregnant women should include protein, fat and carbohydrate in their every meal. A pregnant woman requires 2500 to 3000 calories a day and should divide these calories in to small meals at frequent intervals and it is ideal to have six meals a day and choose foods such as whole grains, fiber rich foods, unprocessed foods etc. Around 10 percent of the total calories should come from protein and the protein sources include fish, meat, pulses, eggs etc. Gain about 35 percentages of calories from fat sourced from dairy products like paneer, milk, butter, oils, nuts etc. But over weight pregnant women should reduce the amount of fat consumption.
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About 55 percent of the calories should be taken from carbohydrates such as wheat, rice, pasta, cereals etc and taking whole grain foods is better than taking refined foods as it helps to maintain the blood sugar level steady and controls the hunger for a long time. Fiber rich foods help to relieve the constipation problems. Avoid sweet, salted, fatty and processed foods as all these unnecessarily increase the weight. Drink plenty of water during the pregnancy as water helps to flush the toxins from the body and thus regulates the weight gain. Occasional consumption of ice-cream or chocolate is allowed.
Apart from taking a well-balanced diet pregnant women need to take exercises that are not strenuous such as walking, indoor cycling etc. Usually half of the weight gained during pregnancy may go off within 42 days after delivery and the balance weight may be lost over a period of nine months or more. It is not ideal to cut down all the weight right after delivery as a new mother requires enough energy to feed her baby and most of the weight gained during pregnancy will be lost by breastfeeding. Besides this during the post delivery period women have to follow a well-balanced diet and follow exercises that are not strenuous to reduce the excess weight.
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