How To Effectively Manage Weight Gain During Pregnancy
- Unhealthy weight gain during pregnancy poses quite a danger to the well-being of the baby and maternal health
- Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and delivery complications are some of the negative effects of excess weight gain in pregnancy
- The good news is that you can manage this by consuming low-calorie nutritious foods
- Good eating practices coupled with a well-balanced diet go a long way in having a strong pregnancy
Pregnancy is a wonderful time for any woman. From the happiness of witnessing that positive line on your pregnancy test to the joy of noticing your baby bump for the first time to finally holding your little one in your arms- pregnancy is a journey!
Filled with highs and lows, this journey will take you through everything from ecstatic emotions to painful physical experiences. You have to be well prepared to handle all the unpleasant passengers who will accompany you on your journey.
One of the most common problems that expecting mothers come across during their pregnancy journey is unhealthy weight gain. You will gain some weight throughout your pregnancy. However, keep in mind that there are certain limits to what is considered an ideal weight increase in pregnancy.
Any extra kilos you put on are considered unhealthy and most often put great strain on your bones, muscles, and joints. Apart from this, the additional weight attracts further complications which can harm you and you're baby's well-being.
how to manage weight during pregnancy? how to control weight during pregnancy? You ask. Such problems can be managed with proper diet and nutrition. Consuming a well-balanced meal along with healthy and sustainable eating practices will help you avoid any unwanted weight gain.
Before helping you decide what to eat and what not, let us check out the reasons behind weight gain and what happens if you gain those extra kilos
Know thy weight
You most likely guessed it, but the high number on the scale is not just fat. The weight that you gain is all related to the baby. It involves the development of structures that protect and nourish the baby. Here's the break-up
- Your baby weighs around 3.5 kilograms
- The placenta adds about 1-1.5 kilograms
- Amniotic fluid and breast tissue weigh around the same as the placenta
- The additional blood supply for the little one weighs up to 2 kgs
- Your fat stores also increase by up to 4 kgs
- The uterus grows to accommodate the baby causing a weight gain of 2.5 kg
In total, you will put on around 16 kgs of weight during your pregnancy. A weight gain around this figure is usually healthy and not a cause of concern. So stay strong and keep glowing throughout your wonderful time!
Managing pregnancy weight gain is often a pressing matter for young mothers. Now, you might be wondering what complications can occur due to excessive weight gain during pregnancy? The answer-A number of health-related complications. Having such complications can negatively affect the development of your little one. Here are some complications that may occur due to excess weight gain.
- Delivery complications
Unhealthy and unwanted weight gain during pregnancy is often associated with women having babies larger. This can lead to delivery complications like tears and postpartum hemorrhage, or you might have to opt for alternative modes of delivery like C sections.
- Childhood obesity
Did you know? Excessive weight gain during pregnancy directly impacts your child's health! Unhealthy weight gain during pregnancy often leads to childhood obesity! This can hurt your child's physical and mental well-being.
- Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a common condition affecting an uncountable number of pregnant women. But did you know that women with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in their life? Gaining excess weight during your pregnancy puts you at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes!
A highly dangerous complication that affects the health of the baby and the mother. Preeclampsia is a medical condition that causes blood pressure fluctuations during pregnancy and can lead to organ damage. A high number on the scale can put you at risk of this life-threatening condition!
Now that you are abreast of the various health complications that excessive weight gain has, let us look at some tips and tricks you can use to keep your weight under control!
Fruits and the vegetables-the nutrient-rich duo
Feeling snacky during your pregnancy? Skip the chips, fries, and candy! Instead, gorge on delicious fruits and vegetables throughout your pregnancy to keep your weight in check! Being low in calories and rich in micronutrients, fruits, and vegetables double as great ways to supply your body with much-needed vitamins.
Also, an adequate intake of these nutrients is needed for the proper growth and development of your tot! So stop reaching for that bag of chips and have a bowl of baby carrots instead!
Lean meat for a leaner pregnancy!
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of a high protein intake during pregnancy! Consuming enough protein during pregnancy is important for the proper development of your baby. Research shows that consuming a diet with adequate protein during pregnancy leads to better growth, birth weight, and height of babies.
However, not all sources of protein are healthy for pregnancy weight management. If red or processed meats are your go-to foods under the premise that they provide proteins, then you are much more likely to gain excess weight and the complications that accompany it! Try having lean meats like chicken or fish for a leaner pregnancy!
Make fiber your friend!
Did you know? Research shows that nearly one in three women suffers from binge eating during their pregnancy. Constantly stuffing yourself with food during pregnancy is the recipe for weight gain during pregnancy!
Try consuming foods that will make you feel full quickly in small quantities. Take for example dietary fiber. It is well known that foods that are rich in fiber have a high satiety index and are quite beneficial for pregnant women. Studies show that a high fiber intake improves heart health, reduces the risk of diabetes, and prevents constipation in pregnant women.
Bifurcate your carbs
Skip the simple carbs! Simple carbohydrates found in most soft drinks, cakes, and candies are sugars and are digested quickly. This can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels and put you at risk of diabetes. Apart from this, they have a low satiety index, meaning they only give you the feeling of being full for a short period. This puts you at risk of frequent snacking and binge eating in turn leading to excess weight gain.
Try switching to complex carbohydrates that are found in whole-grain bread, brown rice, or quinoa. This will help you feel satiated for a longer period and provide you with the necessary fiber and energy to keep you going throughout the day.
Douse the fire with water!
Gestational weight gain is a problem as rampant as a wildfire. It can be doused with proper nutrition and diet. One of the most important and neglected parts of a well-balanced diet is water.
Ignoring the cups of water you drink in a day puts you at greater risk of gaining weight. Recent research shows that women who neglect their hydration were nearly twice at risk of becoming obese. Have at least 8 cups of water a day for a stronger and happier pregnancy!
Low fat for the win!
Dairy is an integral part of any pregnant women's diet. Experts believe that any pregnant lady should consume at least 4 servings of dairy products each day. Why? you ask. Dairy is a great source of calcium and is a probiotic that aid in the proper development of the baby and maintenance of maternal health.
Such products are also rich sources of fat, both healthy and unhealthy. With a diet having high dairy consumption you are also at risk of gaining unwanted weight. Try low-fat or fat-free alternatives. Switch to skimmed milk can significantly reduce your calorie and fat intake thus reducing the risk of weight gain.
Read more: Light And Safe Exercises During Pregnancy
Go easy on the oil
Cooking oils that are so widely and sparingly used for cooking can also affect your weight during pregnancy. Being rich in saturated fats and calories, using a high quantity of oil while cooking will just put you at risk of gaining weight.
Apart from this, oily foods can increase the level of cholesterol in your blood, thus predisposing you to heart disease and other complications. It is best to limit the use of oil during cooking and avoid the consumption of oily and fried foods for a better and stronger pregnancy!
Break the cycle with trace elements
Gestational diabetes and maternal weight gain go hand-in-hand and form a vicious cycle. Those extra kilos you load put you higher on the risk scale of gestational diabetes. Also, if you do have gestational diabetes, you are more at risk of gaining weight which again puts you at risk of pregnancy-related complications. A cycle of unwanted complications is formed here!
The good news is that you can break this cycle by consuming higher quantities of trace elements like iodine, selenium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Try snacking more on nuts like almonds and walnuts which are good sources of calcium, magnesium, and zinc. In addition to this try having some well-cooked fish, a proteinaceous treat that doubles as a good source of iodine.
Safe Dietary Practices To Try
In addition to having a delicious and well-balanced diet, having good and sustainable eating habits goes a long way in avoiding gestational weight gain. Here are a few tips and tricks to have safe and sustainable eating practices during pregnancy!
- Track what you eat
Counting calories is one of the most efficient ways to keep your diet in check. Eating more than the amount required will aid in weight gain. Here are the number of calories required by a pregnant woman depending on the stage of their pregnancy
- First trimester - 1800 calories per day
- Second trimester - 2200 calories per day
- Third trimester - 2400 calories per day
- Avoid electronics while eating
Are you guilty of having a meal while watching your favorite show? If yes, then you should break this habit. Watching T.V or any other electronic device while eating makes you ignorant of the food you're consuming. This can result in you overeating and turn unwanted weight gain
- Have smaller meals
Eating 5-6 small meals a day is much better than having 3 large meals. How does this help? Smaller and more frequent meals mean a lesser load on your digestive system. With proper digestion and absorption of all the nutrients in your food, you will feel more satisfied and have reduced cravings
- Pick and choose what to eat
Try avoiding eating out as much as possible, since it does not allow you to control the nutritional value of your food. In case you have to dine out make sure to ask the staff about the ingredients and nutritional value of the dish to make an informed decision about your order
- Strike a balance
The key to a happy pregnancy is a well-balanced diet. A proper balance between the nutrients in your food will ensure a safe pregnancy. So make sure to consult a nutritionist who will help you whip up a solid meal plan for a stronger pregnancy!
There is no other way around it, you are bound to gain weight during your pregnancy. But now you know how to manage weight during pregnancy. However, as mentioned before, weight gain above the ideal weight increase in pregnancy has deleterious effects on your health as well as the baby's well-being.
Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, morning sickness, delivery complications- you name it. A higher than normal number on your weighing scale predisposes you to all these complications. Furthermore, gestational weight gain also puts your little one at risk.
Childhood obesity, increased risk of diabetes, and metabolic disorders are some of the risks that can loom on your child's future. It is best to take dietary precautions to avoid such negative consequences.
Eating diets that contain low-calorie foods but are rich in nutrients go a long way in preventing additional pregnancy weight gain. Carefully planning your carbohydrate, protein, fats, and micronutrient intake and striking a balance between them will help in staying slim during pregnancy.
That being said, it is important to remember that all the foods mentioned in this blog work best when consumed in moderation. A higher intake of these foods can also result in adverse pregnancy outcomes. managing pregnancy weight gain is doable but maintaining a healthy lifestyle is what takes constant effort.
Remember, each person is different and has varying dietary requirements. A family doctor or nutritionist can best guide you to meet your needs. Consult your family doctor today to find out what nutrition plan suits you the best.
Did you like our Article?
- Micali N, et al. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2018 Jul 1;108(1):101-7.
- Zerfu TA, et al. Food science & nutrition. 2019 Oct;7(10):3286-92.
- Mulyani EY, et al. Nutrition & Food Science. 2021 Aug 4.
- Farias PM, et al. Molecules. 2020 Jan;25(23):5630.