Weight Gain During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, weight gain occurs due to the growing child in the mother's womb. This is determined, among other things, by the child's growth and weight, the increased blood volume, the growing uterus and the amount of amniotic fluid.
The calorie intake also plays a role. Some women eat twice the amount of calories during pregnancy. In these cases the weight increases significantly due to fat gain. Gaining healthy levels of weight is important for expectant mothers. While gaining too little weight can affect the child's development, gaining excess weight can also negatively affect the mother's body.
Weight gain in the 1st trimester of pregnancy
At the beginning of pregnancy (within the first trimester of pregnancy) most women hardly gain any weight. The first trimester of pregnancy begins on the first day of the last menstrual period and ends at the 12th week of pregnancy.
Due to the sometimes very pronounced early symptoms, it can happen that women do not gain weight in the first trimester of pregnancy. On the contrary, some women even lose weight in early pregnancy. This is especially true for expectant mothers who suffer from pronounced nausea and frequent vomiting during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Most expectant mothers gain little, if any, weight gain in the first trimester of pregnancy. The reason for this is the fact that the organism still has to adapt at the beginning of pregnancy. Above all, the increased production of pregnancy hormones and the increasing formation of new blood cells ensure that the daily energy requirement increases. The energy suppliers ingested with food are mostly used up very quickly and less fat can be stored. However, women should ensure a balanced and healthy diet during the first few weeks of pregnancy. The regular supply of vitamins is particularly important for child development.
If excessive weight gain occurs in early pregnancy, this can usually be attributed to incorrect eating behavior. In addition, when calculating the ideal weight gain during pregnancy, it must be borne in mind that the ideal value is heavily dependent on body size and body weight before pregnancy. The individual body mass index (BMI for short) of the expectant mother therefore plays a decisive role in calculating the ideal weight gain during pregnancy.
In general, however, it can be assumed that a weight gain of around 1.5 to 2.5 kilograms should be aimed for during the first trimester of pregnancy. Women who lose more than 1.5 to 2.0 kilograms during the first trimester of pregnancy due to frequent nausea and severe vomiting should urgently seek advice from the attending gynecologist. Especially at the beginning of pregnancy, the development of the child can be negatively influenced by a lack of vitamins and energy. In this context, it should be noted that the focus in the first trimester of pregnancy is on the development of the embryo and the formation of the individual organ systems. For this reason, improper nutrition can under certain circumstances provoke an incorrect development of individual organs.
Weight gain in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy
The second third of pregnancy begins with the 13th and ends with the 28th week of pregnancy. The main goal of this stage of pregnancy is to increase the size and weight of the fetus.
Most organs are already formed at the beginning of the 13th week of pregnancy and only need to mature as the pregnancy progresses. In the expectant mother, the existing pregnancy becomes clearly visible within this period. But similar to ideal weight gain, the increase in waist size varies from woman to woman. It is even typical that a woman's waist circumference develops differently in different pregnancies. In general, it can be assumed that, regardless of the actual weight gain during pregnancy, pregnancy will manifest itself much earlier in slim women than in more obese expectant mothers. In addition, the baby bump is usually formed much earlier in the course of the second or third pregnancy.
Since most of the typical pregnancy symptoms have improved significantly by the 13th week of pregnancy or have even disappeared completely, the appetite usually returns at this point. In addition, women who suffered from frequent vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy should now expect significant weight gain. In the second trimester of pregnancy, a weekly weight gain of 250 to 400 grams is considered healthy for a woman of normal weight. Expectant mothers who had a body mass index of less than 18.5 before pregnancy should even gain between 400 and 600 grams per week in the second trimester of pregnancy. Slightly to severely obese women, on the other hand, should always keep an eye on weight gain during the second trimester of pregnancy. To avoid excessive weight gain during the second trimester of pregnancy, overweight women should seek nutritional advice from the gynecologist.
Weight gain in the third trimester of pregnancy
During the last 12 weeks of pregnancy one speaks of the third trimester of pregnancy. The last trimester of pregnancy begins at the 29th and ends at the 40th week of pregnancy. In the event of the child being transmitted, the last trimester of pregnancy can even extend to the 42nd week of pregnancy. During this period, the unborn child should continue to gain significantly in size and weight. In addition to the growth of the child, the typical food cravings also affect weight gain during pregnancy. Weekly weight gain can therefore be very strong, especially during the last trimester of pregnancy.
For a woman of normal weight, it can be assumed that weight gain of around 500 grams per week is normal.
In women who had a body mass index of less than 18.5 before the start of pregnancy, there may even be a weekly weight gain of up to 600 grams in the last phase of pregnancy.
Overweight women should keep an eye on weight gain even during the last trimester of pregnancy and should not gain more than 400 to 500 grams per week. While the weight gain in the first trimester of pregnancy is usually very low and increases steadily in the second trimester, it reaches its maximum in the last 12 weeks. For a woman of normal weight, it can be assumed that weight gain at this stage of pregnancy is approximately 4 to 6 kilograms.
Weight after pregnancy
Many women still do not reach their ideal weight weeks after giving birth. This is usually quite normal and is due, among other things, to water retention, growth of the uterus and the storage of fat reserves, e.g. for breastfeeding.
You can read about how to lose weight effectively after pregnancy in the following article: Lose weight after pregnancy
In general, it can be assumed that underweight women should gain between 12.7 to 18.1 kilograms during pregnancy. This value corresponds to a weekly weight gain of approximately 0.5 kilograms.
Women of normal weight with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 prior to pregnancy should ideally gain approximately 11.3 to 15.9 kilograms. This indicative value also corresponds to a weekly weight gain of around 0.5 kilograms during pregnancy.
In the case of slightly overweight expectant mothers with a body mass index between 25 and 29.9 before the start of pregnancy, the weight gain must be controlled particularly closely. A total weight gain of 6.8 to 11.3 kilograms is considered normal for these women. For this reason, care should be taken not to gain more than 0.27 kilograms per week.
On the other hand, very overweight women must pay particular attention to a healthy and balanced diet and sufficient exercise during pregnancy. From a body mass index of over 30, weight gain during pregnancy should not exceed a maximum of 9 kilograms.
Slender women in particular are often shocked when they hear that at their starting weight, a weight gain of 10 to 15 kilograms during the entire pregnancy is perfectly normal and harmless. In this context, however, it must be noted that weight gain during pregnancy is by no means pure fat mass. With a weight gain of approximately 14 kilograms, the increase in mass of the uterus is approximately 1.5 kilograms. Due to the increase in the number of individual blood cells and the associated increase in blood volume, the expectant mother gains another 2.0 kilograms. The amniotic fluid weighs around 1.0 to 1.5 kilograms at the end of pregnancy. Due to the enormous growth of the breasts, the weight gain usually increases by another 0.5 kilograms. In particular, fluid retention (around 3.0 kilograms) and the placenta (0.5 kilograms) make a significant contribution to overall weight gain during pregnancy. And last but not least, the child will also weigh around 3.0 to 3.5 kilograms at the time of birth.