How much is too much?

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Gaining weight during pregnancy is natural, but it should be in a healthy range. Here’s what you MUST know from an expert!

Pregnancy can be a blissful stage, as women can indulge in their cravings but it is also extremely crucial to monitor your weight. It is critical to manage pregnancy weight by adopting good lifestyle habits. The misconception of eating for two after you conceive does not indicate that you should eat twice as much as you already do. Therefore, you do not have to double your calorie intake too. Weight gain depends on your weight before pregnancy and body mass index (BMI).

A part of your weight gain during pregnancy will be because of body fat. The rest of the weight gain will be due to the following factors:

  • Breast tissue
  • Placenta
  • Blood supply
  • The amniotic fluid which surrounds the baby
  • Fat for delivery and breastfeeding
  • Uterus (bigger in size)

There is no fixed number as to how much weight you should gain as pregnancy is different for all women. However, you must take care that you do not gain “too much” or “too little” to keep you and your baby healthy and nourished.

How much weight gain is healthy?

On average, women should gain around 10-14 kgs during pregnancy to reduce any chances of complications among babies. There are also a few guidelines for different types of pregnancies which you can follow:

1. In multiple pregnancies with twins or more, women with a Body Mass Index of 30 or more must gain around 11-19 kgs
2. In single pregnancies, women with a Body Mass Index of 30 or more must gain around 5-9 kgs.

Also, the calorie intake during the first trimester has to be adjusted around how much you want to gain. The intake will increase during the second and third trimesters. An average pregnant woman will increase calorie intake by taking 300 calories more in a day.

pregnancy weight gain
You MUST practice healthy eating during first and second trimester. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

You might also lose weight during the first few months due to normal morning sickness. But you should not lose any weight purposely, as this can impact your baby’s health as well.

Being overweight during pregnancy

If you are overweight during pregnancy, it can increase the chances of several health risks for you like:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure disorder)
  • Chances of a C-section
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Cardiac dysfunction

Gaining “too much” weight can also affect your baby and pose several health risks like:

  • Childhood asthma and obesity
  • Fetal macrosomia
  • Birth defects

If you were overweight before pregnancy, you might need to gain only 6-11 kgs to stay healthy and fit.

Being underweight during pregnancy

If you remain underweight throughout the pregnancy, your baby might be smaller. Therefore, it is crucial to consider gaining weight to keep your baby healthy. Underweight women must gain around 12-18 kgs during pregnancy.

Managing a healthy pregnancy

You can ensure a healthy Body Mass Index to eliminate any risks by following a few steps:

1. Stay physically active

You must do regular physical activities during pregnancy, only after consulting your healthcare provider. Try some gentle exercises every day for a few minutes. You can go for a walk and make a few lifestyle changes like using stairs instead of taking lifts or escalators.

pregnancy weight gain
Practice healthy exercising during pregnancy? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Eat a proper diet

Make a few changes in your diet and opt for healthy eating. Increase your calorie intake only to a certain level to manage a healthy weight. You can take the help of a dietician who can give you suggestions for managing a healthy and nutritious diet.

3. Reach out to your doctor

If you are planning a pregnancy, visit your doctor to talk about your current health status and BMI. If you are too overweight or underweight, your doctor can suggest some lifestyle changes which you must follow to reach a healthy weight before you conceive.

Tips to gain weight in a healthy manner:

  • Try to eat 5-6 small meals every day.
  • You can snack on nuts, cheese, dried fruits, and yoghurt.
  • Increase your fruit and vegetable intake. You can increase your calorie intake by adding peanut butter to your daily diet routine.
  • Increase your fat intake, depending on how much you have been advised to gain.

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