Health & Beauty - All in Your Hands

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 Pre & Pregnancy weight

The weight gain for a woman of healthy body weight is recommended to be between 25-35 lbs. during the course of pregnancy. Prior to pregnancy, all women should strive for appropriate body weights. This is especially important for underweight women. An underweight woman who fails to gain adequately during pregnancy is most likely to give birth to a baby with dangerously low birthweight.  Infant birthweight is the single most potent indicator of a child's future nutrition and health status.  A low-birthweight baby is defined as one who weighs less than 5 1/2 pounds at full-term. These victims of improper nutrition, and sometimes unavoidable health concerns, are almost 40 times more likely to die in the first year of life than is a normal-weight baby. Underweight women are therefore advised to not only see to their nutrition needs of minerals, vitamins and all the other necessary nutrients, but to consume extra amounts of them so as to gain weight in a healthy manner.  Nutritional deficiency, coupled with low birthweight, is the underlying cause of more than half of all deaths worldwide of children under five years of age.  It is advisable for an underweight woman to gain about 40 pounds during the course of her pregnancy. Teenage mothers seem to be at greater risk for this condition than adult women, therefore any teen pregnancy should be closely monitored. More information about this in a later section.

Obese women too, are urged to attain healthy weights before pregnancy. Under no conditions should a woman go on a diet after she has learned she is pregnant. Doing so may dangerously reduce the amount of nutrients fed to the growing embryo. The infant of an obese mother may be larger than normal, and born late, or it may be large in size even if born prematurely. In the latter case, the baby may not be recognized as premature and may not receive the special care it requires from medical staff. Maternal obesity also may double the risk for neural tube defects in the infant. Also, obese pregnant women more often suffer gestational diabetes, hypertension, and infections after the birth, than do women of healthy weight. The birth itself may be more likely to require drugs, or surgical intervention to induce labor. A good idea for obese women who may become pregnant is to consume adequate amounts of essential nutrients from nutrient-dense foods and good-quality supplements, without consuming excess fat. The goal is to attain a body weight just low enough to lower the medical risks associated with obesity, before becoming pregnant. Even for obese women, the minimum weight gain should be around thirteen pounds during the pregnancy.

To eat well during pregnancy you must do more than simply increase how much you eat. You must also consider what you eat. Although you need about 300 extra calories a day - especially later in your pregnancy, when your baby grows quickly - those calories should come from nutritious foods so they can contribute to your baby's growth and development.

Why It's Important to Eat Well When You're Pregnant

Do you wonder how it's reasonable to gain 25 to 35 pounds (on average) during your pregnancy when a newborn baby weighs only a fraction of that? Although it varies from woman to woman, this is how those pounds may add up:

  • 7.5 pounds - average baby's weight
  • 2 pounds - breast enlargement
  • 7 pounds - your body's extra stored protein, fat, and other nutrients
  • 1.5 pounds - the placenta
  • 2 pounds - enlargement of your uterus
  • 2 pounds - amniotic fluid surrounding your baby
  • 4 pounds - your extra blood
  • 4 pounds - your other extra body fluids

Weight Gain: Recommendations for the range of total weight gain and the pattern of weight gain should be based on the prepregnancy weight for height. The pattern of weight gain is as important as total weight gain during pregnancy. Weight gain should be recorded on a chart that shows weight gain by gestational age.

Prepregnancy Weight Total Weight Gain Rate of Gain for 2nd & 3rd Trimesters
Normal Weight 25-35 pounds 1 pound per week
Underweight 28-40 pounds more than 1 pound per week
Overweight 15-25 pounds 2/3 pound per week
Twins 30-35 pounds 1 1/2 pound per week

 

Note: These are used as a guideline only... each woman and pregnancy is unique and individualized. Nutritional counseling and assessment should be a part of prenatal care and proper adequate nutrition is encouraged for optimal health for the mother and her baby.

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