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 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 a fine starting point. But there are many variables at play that may in fact make it healthier for you to fall outside of that range. (I gained 40lbs 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 less.
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.
In rare cases, moms will actually lose weight during pregnancy because they are eating better are optimizing the way their body processes nutrients. Also, 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.
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.
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 so they have to be able to survive and feed baby on stored fat. This will add about another 5-10 pounds.
Blood supply – During pregnancy your blood supply will increase by 50%! That can pack on another 4 pounds of weight (this can also contribute to your swollen feet).
Larger uterus – Of course your uterus is growing and will increase by 2-5 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 2-3 pounds.
Amniotic fluid – The amniotic fluid that your baby is living in weighs 2-3 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. Doing this, most women won’t need to step on a scale every day or week to stay on track because your body knows what it needs and will tell you. Follow your body and you will be ok.
Looking for info on diet? Here’s a deep dive on your perfect pregnancy diet.
And here are a few guidelines to get you started.
Eat real food
Stick with nutrient dense foods from healthy sources like pastured meat and poultry, eggs, wild caught fish, raw pastured dairy, 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. Just 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 such as 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 comes 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, but is 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. Others take about a year to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight. Some women experience weight loss differently with each pregnancy.
The body, in its wisdom, doesn’t drop all of the weight at once. This can be very taxing on the system! It took 9 months to gain the weight, so give yourself time. Crash dieting postpartum can lead to health issues, low milk supply, and even gallbladder disease.
Breastfeeding, with all of it’s amazing benefits, can be your friend when it comes to losing pregnancy weight. However, some women find that they hold onto about 5-10 pounds while breastfeeding, due to larger breasts and/or your body keeping reserves for milk production.
Pregnancy weight gain bottom line
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. Also, trust that 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 1-5lbs in the first trimester and a pound per week for the rest of pregnancy? Share with us in the comments below!