Are you pregnant and wondering whether you are the "right" size for your week? While most good doctors will tell you that there is no one "right" size, there is an average range of weight that you--and your baby--can expect to gain.
Over the years, recommendations for pregnancy weight gain have varied drastically. During the nineteenth century, mothers were encouraged to restrict their food intake to avoid difficult labor. During the first half of the twentieth century, doctors continued to restrict weight gain because of the "major and minor" complications they believed would result. Doctors advised women to try to gain only 15 lbs., but 25 lbs. at the most, and many women endured strict diets to adhere to these weight guidelines. In 1970, however, studies discovered a link between restricted diets and dangerously low birth weights, and the policy was lifted by The National Academy of Sciences Committee on Maternal Nutrition. They increased the recommended weight gain to about 20 to 24 lbs.
People love to talk about pregnant women as "eating for two," and mothers are often playfully encouraged to eat whatever they want whenever they want to help their bodies to grow healthy babies. The misconception is that all food is good food and that if a mother wants it, she must need it. While some cravings are related to the body's nutritional needs, women should be careful to follow a healthy diet throughout pregnancy in order to gain healthy, useful weight instead of just fat. The sudden rush of hormones in the first trimester is usually to blame for eccentric changes in appetites, so most cravings and aversions pass around the fourth month of pregnancy.
Before adhering to specific weight gain restrictions, pregnant women should speak with their doctors about their pre-pregnancy weight and dieting history. A diagnosis or risk of gestational diabetes is a good reason to restrict pregnancy diet, and women should carefully follow doctors' advice in these circumstances. Gestational diabetes, if uncontrolled, can cause excessive birth weight or pregnancy induced hypertension, both of which can quickly become dangerous for both mother and baby. Proper diet and exercise, however, should reduce the risk of complications.
These numbers reflect the average weight gain for the mother and baby for each week. Mothers should consult their doctors about their individual weight goals. Weeks 1 to 4--not enough change in mother to notice yet; baby grows to about 0.014 to 0.04 inches. Weeks 5 to 8--mother may have gained a few pounds by now; baby is about 1/2 to 3/4 inches. Weeks 9 to 12--mother's clothes become uncomfortable; baby is 2 1/2 inches crown to rump, 1/3 to 1/2 oz. Weeks 13 to 16--mother has gained about 7 lbs.; baby is 4 1/2 to 4 2/3 inches, 2 3/4 oz. Weeks 17 to 20--mother has gained 8 to 14 lbs.; baby is 5 2/3 to 6 1/2 inches, 9 oz. Weeks 21 to 24--mother has gained 12 to 15 lbs.; baby is about 8 1/2 inches, 1 1/4 lbs. Weeks 25 to 28--mother has gained 17 to 24 lbs.; baby is about 15 3/4 inches crown to heel, 2 1/2 lbs. Weeks 29 to 32--mother has gained 21 to 27 lbs.; baby is nearly 19 inches, 4 lbs. Weeks 33 to 36--mother has gained 24 to 29 lbs.; baby is 20 3/4 inches, 6 lbs. Weeks 37 to 40--mother has gained 25 to 35 lbs.; baby is 21 1/2 inches, 7 1/2 lbs.
Many women are concerned about gaining 25 to 35 lbs. during pregnancy; they fear for their figures after delivery. While these concerns are valid, and losing weight after pregnancy can be difficult, consider the necessity of the weight mothers do gain. Here is an approximate breakdown of the weight gained during pregnancy.
In an average woman who gains a total of 31 lbs. during pregnancy, the baby weighs about 7 1/2 lbs., the placenta weighs 1 1/2 lbs., the amniotic fluid weighs 2 lbs., the uterine enlargement causes about 2 lbs. of weight gain, maternal breast tissue weighs about 2 lbs., increased maternal blood volume adds about 4 lbs., and maternal stores of fat, protein and nutrients equal about 12 lbs.
Clearly, the majority of weight gained is necessary for the health and growth of the baby.