Gain The Right Weight During Pregnancy!
Congratulations! You’ve entered a new phase of life. It is exhilarating, and it is terrifying. But try to savour these nine rollercoaster months. All it takes is being well-informed. But as you figure things out, pay attention to your weight. Why? Well your weight during pregnancy affects your baby’s growth and influences the weight he/she will be born with.
Why Weight Gain Matters?
A mother’s weight gain during pregnancy is important for her child’s well-being. Unless the mother is healthy, the baby may be born with a low birth weight. A research found the percentage of underweight mothers delivering babies with low birth weight is high and those infants face several health risks.1 Hence, gaining the right weight is important.
Your body needs the extra weight for your growing baby and your changing needs. The weight helps build the placenta, develop amniotic tissue, and expand the uterus. It further ensures adequate blood supply for you and your baby. In addition, it helps prepare your body for delivery and breastfeeding.2
How To Gain Weight?
Eating a lot is not the answer. You will have to eat right.
The UNICEF offers guidelines3 for maternal nutrition in India. The guideline lists the food sources that provide nutrients like Folic Acid, Iron, Vitamin A, and Calcium. Here is an overview:
|Folic acid||Spinach, kale|
|Carbohydrates||Enriched cereals, pasta, rice|
|Calcium and minerals||Dairy and dairy products (e.g. yogurt, milk)|
|Protein||Lean meat (e.g. poultry), eggs, beans, nuts|
|Iron||Red meat, dried beans, peas|
Make sure you have enough protein intake, as it helps weight gain. A recent study found that most adult Indians have a protein-deficient diet.4 In such cases, incorporating a nutritional drink designed for pregnancy is a smart choice. For instance, Mother’s Horlicks provides 27 vital nutrients. It also provides high protein, so it can really help you to make up for the protein deficiency in your diet.
What Is The Right Weight?
WHO recommends that a healthy woman should gain 10 to 14 kg during pregnancy, an average of 12 kg, in order to elevate the likelihood of giving birth to a healthy baby, with less risk of fetal and maternal complications.5
However, weight gain requirements differ from one woman to the other. The body-mass index (BMI) can be a reliable measure in this regard. A woman’s pre-pregnancy BMI indicates how much she needs to gain for a healthy delivery.6
|BMI Before Pregnancy||How Much To Gain|
|Less than 18.5 (underweight)||13–18 kg|
|18.5–24.9 (normal weight)||11–16 kg|
|25–29.9 (overweight)||7–11 kg|
|More than 30 (obese)||5–9 kg|
Get Your Weight Right
Why do doctors emphasise on the right weight gain? Well, a third of Indian women in reproductive age are undernourished. The UNICEF defines undernourishment as a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 kg/m2 and below.7 The odds of an Indian woman being underweight and undernourished are high. Diane Coffey, a Princeton University researcher, pegs this number at 42.2%.8 So, make sure to monitor your weight during your pregnancy.
Eating the right foods can help you gain not only an ideal weight, but can also provide you with important nutrients. Frequent small meals9 and a high lean Protein intake can help with weight gain.10 Snack on all the good things such as nuts, cheese, and even ice cream. But be careful about gaining too much weight.11
Talk Freely To Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor. The right kind of nutrition matters, for you and for your baby. You need to gain the right amount of weight.
Put faith in your doctor and consult a nutritionist if you need any help in gaining and maintaining the right weight. The key is to watch your weight, while focusing on nutrition. This can reduce the risk of you getting heart disease, diabetes etc.
Monitoring your weight during pregnancy will also ensure you have a healthy baby. More importantly, it can reduce your baby’s health and development risks in the future.
The author is Neha Chandna, who is a practicing dietitian since the last 8 years. The views, opinions and recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the author and intended as an educational aid. Please consult your doctor for professional advice concerning specific health/medical matters.