THE subject of debate: between "you have to accept the way your body changes during pregnancy, because after all, you're carrying life" and "I'm afraid of putting on too much weight while I'm pregnant, so help me", a few explanations s'are in order!
Weight gain is an inevitable part of pregnancy. But excessive weight gain can lead to health complications for both mother and fetus, such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia or a high-weight baby. It is of course important for pregnant women to monitor this weight gain during pregnancy, and if possible control their diet and physical activity to ensure a healthy pregnancy and good post-partum recovery. But why exactly do we gain weight during pregnancy (in addition to that of the fetus and placenta) ? How can we monitor its evolution? How do you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight? Elia takes a closer look and explains everything!
Why do we gain weight during pregnancy?
Weight gain during pregnancy is normal and even essential to the normal development of the fetus. In fact, the placenta, baby and amniotic fluid alone account for around a third of total weight gain during pregnancy. But the question remains, where do the other kilos gained during pregnancy come from? (Not from heaven, that's for sure).
The rest of the weight gained during pregnancy is due, first and foremost, to the increase in blood volume, especially during the 2nd trimester, which can almost double. This ensures that all the nutrients required for the baby's development are delivered, as well as providing the necessary oxygen.
One of the causes is also the increased volume of body fluids: pregnancy hormones can cause water retention, as can the increased size and weight of the uterus and the increased volume of the breasts (and even pain), which help prepare for breastfeeding.
And last but not least: fat reserves! These are essential, as they serve as energy reserves for the mother during pregnancy and while breast-feeding.
How can I monitor my weight gain during pregnancy?
This is important for the health of both mother and baby. Excess weight can increase the risk of complications. You can monitor your weight by following the recommendations, which vary according to your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI). Regular weighing (about once a week, at the same time) is also an option, but you may want to wait for follow-up appointments.
Weight gain curve
This curve is obviously the best tool for monitoring weight gain during pregnancy. It allows you to see how your weight is evolving, and to check if it's falling outside the curve (over or under).
Recommended total weight
The recommended total weight gain depends primarily on the woman's pre-pregnancy weight, or rather her BMI (Body Mass Index). Women who were at a healthy weight (between BMI 18.5 and 25) before becoming pregnant may gain between 11 and 16 kg during pregnancy. Obviously, weight gain may be higher for women carrying twins (or more!). Those with a lower BMI may gain more weight (up to 18 kg ), and those who are overweight may not gain more than 11.5 kg. But there's no pressure: every pregnancy is different, and the most important thing is that it runs as smoothly as possible, in the interests of both mother and baby's health.
What is the usual weight gain during pregnancy?
As explained above, this varies from woman to woman, and depends on a number of factors such as pre-pregnancy BMI, the age and general health of the pregnant woman, as well as the number of fetuses in the pipeline! But in general, experts recommend an average weight gain of 11 to 16 kg for women with a normal pre-pregnancy BMI, i.e. around 0.5 to 2 kg per month. For overweight or obese women, a smaller gain is recommended, while for those with an underweight pre-pregnancy weight, a larger gain is required.
During this period, it's normal to gain a little weight, or even none at all for some. You may even lose a little weight due to nausea or vomiting.
In the 2nd quarter
During this stage, intake is generally higher than during the first trimester. This is because the fetus is developing rapidly, and most organs are still forming. What's more, most women start to feel a greater appetite and have a slightly stronger fork!
On average, she averages 0.5 kg to 1 kg per week, i.e. between 5 kg and 6 kg over this period.
This depends on each woman's metabolism, but the average gain should be 2 kg per month. It is generally greater over this period, as caloric requirements and fetal weight increase.
What are the complications associated with weight gain during pregnancy?
While weight gain is an inherent part of pregnancy, it's important to remember that too much or too little is not good for you!
In case of excessive weight gain
Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can lead to a variety of complications, such as an increased risk of gestational diabetes detected by pregnancy glycosuria, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, caesarean section,premature delivery or fetal macrosomia (a baby with a high birth weight). It can also increase the risk of complications during labor and delivery, such as longer labor or difficulty pushing.
In case of insufficient weight gain
If so, this can lead to fetal complications such as increased risk of intrauterine growth retardation, premature birth, low birth weight, or long-term health problems for the baby.
For the mother, the risks are mainly a lack of essential nutrients and reduced resistance to infection.
How to limit weight gain during pregnancy?
Although a mother's caloric needs increase during pregnancy, reaching an average of 2,500 calories a day (although this varies from woman to woman l), it's still important to maintain a balanced and varied diet, without going overboard with hunger, and to follow a few basic recommendations.
During pregnancy, a healthy, balanced diet is recommended for the healthy development of the fetus and the health of the mother. Certain foods should be eaten in moderation, while others should be avoided:
- Raw or undercooked foods such as meat, fish, eggs and seafood should be avoided at all costs! They can carry bacteria and cause infections such as listeriosis or toxoplasmosis. So cook absolutely everything!
- Fish containing high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, marlin and bluefin tuna, can affect the development of the fetal nervous system. Canned fish and fresh fish (salmon, herring and mackerel are good alternatives);
- Deli meats, such as ham, sausage, bacon, pâtés and rillettes, should be eaten in moderation because of their high content of saturated fats, salt and additives;
- Cheeses made from raw milk, such as Camembert, Brie, Roquefort, Bleu d'Auvergne, goat's cheese and fromage frais: avoid them because of the potential presence of bacteria;
- And, of course, alcoholic beverages, which can harm the developing foetus.
Tips for rebalancing your diet
Now it's time to look at tips for a balanced diet during pregnancy:
- Eat balanced meals: the basics, granted, with proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats at every meal;
- Eat enough fruit and vegetables;
- SMake sure you eat iron-rich foods (well-cooked red meats, legumes, green leafy vegetables);
- Choose good fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish, lwalnut or linseed oil);
- Drink enough water;
- Limit consumption of processed, sugar-rich foods.
Post-delivery: how do you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight?
After giving birth, it's normal not to immediately return to your pre-pregnancy weight! The time it takes to return to your initial weight can vary from person to person and depends on several factors, including your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI).
To return to your pre-pregnancy weight, it's important to eat a balanced diet and resume physical activity gradually (after at least 6 weeks postpartum), in consultation with your health professionals.
Pregnancy weight gain FAQ
What is the month of pregnancy when you gain the most weight?
The 2nd trimester of pregnancy is the period of greatest weight gain, from the 3rd to the 6th month of pregnancy, as the baby's caloric needs and weight increase. Weight gain in the 2nd trimester ranges from 0.5 kg to 1 kg per week, for a total of between 5 kg and 6 kg.
When does weight gain start during pregnancy?
The onset of weight gain during pregnancy varies from one woman to another, but generally speaking, the first "real" kilos arrive from the 3rd or 4th month of pregnancy.
How to stop weight gain during pregnancy?
It should not be "stopped", but at the very most slowed down if the curve is seen to be rising too fast. You should then follow your doctor's recommendations, particularly with regard to diet and exercise.