Weight gain during pregnancy

At the latest during the preventive examinations in pregnancy it is said: Please stand on the scale! A regular check of the body weight takes place in the context of the medical precaution in approximately every four weeks. Weight gain in the course of pregnancy is quite normal and also desirable.

Pregnant woman in front of bookshelf

All natural – weight gain during pregnancy

A regular control of the body weight takes place in the context of the medical preventive medical examinations during the pregnancy in approximately every four weeks. Weight gain is completely normal. But the precautionary weight check is still a sensitive topic. Many women find stepping on the scales unpleasant. Perhaps because in the run-up to the pregnancy the issue of body and weight has already played a major role. Or thoughts arise about how you will be perceived purely externally as an expectant mom. Pregnancy and the accompanying change in one’s own body turns everything upside down. For many pregnant women it is a deep cut in the previous life.

But don’t worry, weight control during pregnancy serves only one purpose: to protect you and your child as best as possible. The measured values are entered in your maternity record as part of the preventive medical check-up. It enables your attending physician to keep track of your weight and to document the weight gain. In case of irregularities there is the option of a quick – if necessary medical – measure.

How high may the weight gain be?

Your pregnancy is as individual as you are. There are recommended guideline values about weight gain in pregnant women. However, it is also possible that your weight is outside these guideline values.

Nowadays the body mass index (BMI) is used. BMI is a crucial guide to the range within which normal weight gain should occur. Your BMI before pregnancy is used as a basis for calculating the recommended guideline values.

Calculating your own BMI is easy. It is composed of the ratio of weight and height:

  • Body size x height (in meters)
  • Divide body weight (in kilograms) by the result
  • Result: BMI

The following table is a guide. There you can see the relationship between BMI and the recommended weight gain during pregnancy:

BMI before pregnancy Weight gain until birth
below 19.8 12.7 to 18.2 kg
between 19.8 and 26 11.4 to 15.9 kg
26.1 and 29 6.8 to 11.4 kilograms
over 29 max. 6.8 kg
Twin pregnancy 15.9 to 20.4 kg

Finally, the weight of a pregnant woman – taken by itself – does not give any information about the condition of the child. Even how much the baby will weigh at the end of pregnancy is not exactly predictable. The weight of the expectant mother is only one of many indications of how the baby will develop.

How much do you gain during pregnancy?

Nature is a clever partner and has arranged it so that the female body can withstand quite a bit of stress during pregnancy. There is also much more to weight gain than is obvious at first glance. There is no general answer to the question of how much you will gain during pregnancy. In general, we talk about an average gain of about 12.5 kilograms. The baby weighs on average about 3 kg at birth.400 grams. In addition, there are pregnancy-related changes in the body, such as water retention, the growth of the breasts or the build-up of muscle mass. The uterus grows, the amniotic fluid increases and the placenta enlarges.

Based on a pregnant woman with an average weight gain, the kilos are roughly distributed as follows:**

Breast 405 grams
Uterus 970 grams
Blood 1250 grams
Water 1680 grams
Fat 3345 grams

Data on weight gain during pregnancy should therefore only be regarded as guidelines. Ideal values vary depending on the initial weight of the pregnant woman. Just don’t let it get to you. Weight gain is rarely constant.

There are phases when you seem to gain weight quickly; at other times your weight stagnates. Your pregnancy is divided into three trimesters. Each of the so-called thirds of pregnancy has its own weighty characteristics:

1. Trimester – weight gain 1.5 to 2 kilograms

Cravings or loss of appetite in the first trimester of pregnancy
In the first trimester your weight will hardly increase. You will probably see a slight upward tendency on the scales: Between 1.5 and 2 kilograms are usual. Your body is adjusting to the demands of pregnancy and the hormonal changes begin. There may be nausea and vomiting, and therefore loss of appetite. Eating habits fluctuate, just like the pointer on the scale. At this stage of development, the embryo weighs less than 100 grams.

2. Trimester – weight gain 6 to 8 kilograms

All signs point to growth
Now you or your offspring are facing a growth spurt. This is also quickly noticeable on the scales. In the second trimester, you will gain between 6 and 8 kilograms with normal weight gain. It’s not just your baby that’s out to grow. The increasing amount of amniotic fluid, the growing uterus and placenta, and the increased blood volume in the body all contribute to the additional kilos. In addition, the first fat pads are formed.

3. Trimester – weight gain 4 to 6 kilograms

Final spurt!
Shortly before the birth, the pointer of the scale usually jumps up again. The baby puts on a lot of weight in the womb. Almost 300 grams per week are not uncommon until the birth weight is reached. A too fast and large weight gain can indicate a pregnancy disease. Severe overweight is considered a risk factor for pregnant women and promotes gestational diabetes, among other things. In this case you should ask your gynecologist for advice.

Balanced nutrition and balanced weight gain

When it comes to nutrition, moms-to-be are usually quite relaxed: They eat whatever tastes good and whatever their appetite dictates. This positive attitude towards food is a good starting position. After all, it is primarily a matter of personal well-being. But despite all preferences, for the sake of your little one, make sure you eat a balanced diet. The offspring should receive all the nutrients it needs for development. In addition, during pregnancy, both excessive weight gain and starvation diet harm the baby.

Wok vegetables

The nutritional needs of a pregnant woman are just under 2.500 calories per day. They are two in the pregnancy, but therefore should not eat double portions. The additional need is far below this requirement. A balanced diet is the right key. The food should be composed of:

  • Proteins (fish, meat, eggs, legumes)
  • Dairy products (butter, cheese, yogurt)
  • Oil and nuts
  • Carbohydrates (cereals, pasta, potatoes, rice)

** Nutritional counseling during pregnancy and lactation (2. Edition); S.20

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