In today’s society, women’s bodies are judged and scrutinized. It isn’t healthy, it isn’t fair, and it isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. This obsession with a “perfect” body can make the topic of pregnancy weight gain a touchy subject for some mamas.
But here’s the truth: Most women need some extra weight to be healthy during pregnancy.
Your Body Is Amazing
During pregnancy you are nurturing a new life! What better reason to stop worrying about body image and just follow your body’s lead and trust that you are gaining the right amount of weight. Trust your body!
A one-size-fits-all approach to pregnancy weight definitely doesn’t work. However, there are some general guidelines.
Recommended Pregnancy Weight Gain
Many women have heard that the magic number for weight gain during pregnancy is 25-35 pounds. This is based on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendation for a “normal” weight woman, but there are many variables at play that may make it healthier for you to fall outside of that range. (I gained 40 pounds during both of my pregnancies.)
Consider your pre-pregnancy weight
- If you are within a normal weight range before becoming pregnant, 25-35 pounds may work for you.
- If you are underweight, you may need to gain more.
- If you are overweight, you may need to gain less.
Note: Many women lose weight in the first trimester due to nausea and are just fine through the rest of the pregnancy. That said, losing weight during pregnancy is not usually a good sign. If you experience weight loss, consult your midwife or doctor.
Focus on your diet
Also, many women begin eating more healthfully and exercising more when they become pregnant. Their bodies are going to change for the better, whether that means gaining more weight (in the form of muscle) or gaining less.
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When Should You Gain Pregnancy Weight?
Conventional wisdom says that you should gain 1-5 pounds in the first trimester and 1 pound per week for the rest of the pregnancy. However, few women follow this pattern exactly, so don’t stress out about it.
- Some women gain little or no weight (or even lose weight) in the first trimester.
- Some women gain as much as 10 pounds in the first trimester.
Women who gain weight rapidly during the first trimester often slow down in weight gain as pregnancy progresses. So if this is your experience, know that it doesn’t guarantee you will follow this pattern throughout your pregnancy.
How Is Pregnancy Weight Distributed?
Is all of that pregnancy weight gain fat? No! In fact most of it isn’t. Here’s the breakdown.
Pregnancy weight gain distribution chart by Mama Natural
Stored fat for breastfeeding: Your body prepares for breastfeeding by storing some fat during pregnancy. It makes sense biologically, since postpartum moms are not as able to go out foraging—they have to be able to survive and feed baby on stored fat. This will add about 5-10 pounds.
Blood supply: During pregnancy your blood supply will increase by 50 percent! That can pack on another 4 pounds of weight (this can also contribute to swollen feet).
Larger uterus: Of course your uterus is growing—it will increase by 2 or more pounds in weight.
Baby: Your baby will weigh around 7-8 pounds at birth.
Placenta: You are growing a whole new organ during your pregnancy—the placenta! It will weigh 1.5 or more pounds.
Amniotic fluid: The amniotic fluid that your baby is living in weighs about 2 pounds.
Breast tissue: Your breasts will grow to prepare for milk production, contributing about 2-3 pounds of weight.
“How Do I Stick to a Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain?”
Here’s the thing: You really don’t have to worry—as long as you are eating enough high quality foods everyday and exercising moderately. Your body knows what it needs, and will tell you. Follow your body!
Looking for info on diet? Here’s a deep dive on your perfect pregnancy diet, but you’ll find a few guidelines to get you started below.
Eat real food
Stick with nutrient-dense foods from healthy sources like pastured meat and poultry, eggs, wild-caught fish, raw pastured dairy, and organic fruits and vegetables. Real food nourishes your body and gives you and baby the nutrients you need, so that your body doesn’t continue to tell you it’s hungry and cause you to overeat nutrient-empty foods.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have treats, though. Stick with natural sugars, like raw honey and maple syrup, which provide your body with trace minerals and help regulate blood sugar.
Get enough fat
Your baby’s brain needs lots of fat to grow optimally. Stick with healthy fats from sources like organic butter, avocados, coconut oil, and raw nuts and seeds.
Take a prenatal
Though it’s best to get your nutrition from real food sources, sometimes it’s not possible to get everything from food. This is where a high-quality, food-based prenatal vitamins come in. Find out which prenatal is best for you here.
Do Not Diet During Pregnancy!
This goes without saying, but dieting during pregnancy is downright dangerous for you and baby (but mostly you, since baby will pull from your reserves). Pregnancy is not a time to focus on weight loss; it’s a time to focus on eating healthy, life-giving foods.
How Long Does It Take to Lose Pregnancy Weight?
- Some women lose their pregnancy weight and more before baby hits 6 months old.
- For others, it takes about a year to get back to pre-pregnancy weight.
The body, in its wisdom, doesn’t drop all of the weight at once. It took 9 months to gain the weight, so give yourself time. Crash dieting postpartum be very taxing on the system—it can lead to health issues, low milk supply, and even gallbladder disease.
Does breastfeeding help you lose pregnancy weight?
Breastfeeding, with all of it’s amazing benefits, can be your friend when it comes to losing pregnancy weight. But even then, don’t expect to lose the weight overnight. It’s also important to note that some women find they hold onto about 5-10 pounds while breastfeeding, due to larger breasts and/or your body keeping reserves for milk production.
The Bottom Line on Pregnancy Weight Gain
Trust that, if you are eating healthy foods, your body will gain the perfect amount of weight for you and baby. I loved eating during pregnancy and postpartum, since I knew I was nourishing my child at the most basic level. With care, your body will return to its best weight in due time.
How About You?
Were you concerned about pregnancy weight gain? Did your pregnancy weight gain follow the “normal” pattern of 1-5 pounds in the first trimester and a pound per week for the rest of pregnancy? Share with us in the comments below!