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The Importance of Gaining Weight During Pregnancy

Weight seems to be a hot topic everywhere one turns these days. The general consensus seems to be that we are all too fat, at least the ones that are not too skinny. According to the experts, very few of us are actually at what would be considered an ideal weight. Weight, and the gaining thereof, becomes a critical issue during pregnancy. That extra weight has a purpose.

It has been determined that gaining some weight is necessary, even if the mother is obese at the time of conception. How much weight should be gained is determined by how much she weighed at the time of conception and her height. Women who are already at a healthy weight should plan to gain 25 to 35 pounds over the course of the pregnancy. Women who are considered underweight will need to gain slightly more and women who are overweight will need to gain a little less. Some weight gain is normal and necessary to support the growth of the baby.

Why should I gain weight?

What your body is doing during pregnancy is creating a whole new human being. This new person may be small, but he/she needs to weigh in at around 7 ½ to 8 ½ pounds at birth. Your body is producing fluids that surround and protect the baby as well as extra blood to feed the baby until his own circulatory system begins to work. Certain organs develop thicker musculature that will be needed during labor and delivery. All of these factors increase the weight of the mother.

Studies have been conducted that demonstrate that mothers who do not eat a balanced diet and take the right number of calories per day give birth to underweight babies who are often sick and need special medical care to survive. Even women who are already overweight to obese must adjust their diet to include more healthier foods and less junk food to ensure the baby gets the proper nutrition. Starving themselves to keep from gaining weight will only harm the baby.

How should weight be gained?

Most women experience a weight gain of about 5 pounds during the first three months of pregnancy. This is perfectly normal. During the rest of the pregnancy, weight gain should average about a pound a week right up to delivery. Underweight women may need to gain an extra few ounces per week and overweight women may need to gain a few ounces less.

The quality of food eaten by the mother during pregnancy is far more important than the quantity. You may have heard the old saying about “eating for two”. While technically true, this does not mean that a woman should eat twice as much. To be honest, pregnancy actually only requires an increase of around 300 calories per day. What is important is making these calories come from foods that are high in the nutrients needed by both the mother and the baby.

Eliminating sugary and high fat snacks and replacing them with fresh fruits and vegetables is highly recommended.
Healthcare providers will monitor your weight gain throughout the pregnancy. They use this as a tool to measure the growth and development of the baby along with other tools like ultrasounds. If a sudden surge in weight or a major drop in weight is noticed, the provider should be notified as there may be a complication.

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