Weight gain during pregnancy depends on how much energy your body needs.
Many patients are concerned with how much weight they should gain during pregnancy. Some women that are overweight to begin with worry about gaining more weight, and never being able to get back to a healthy weight.
Then there are patients that are really thin and weight-conscious. These women sometimes worry that weight gain during pregnancy will ruin their physique.
Other women think pregnancy is a license to eat however much they want. They rationalize overeating and believe they can eat as much as they want because they are "eating for two".
Then there are other women that are worried they aren't gaining enough weight because the morning sickness is preventing them from keeping enough food down.
You should be concerned about weight, but thinking too much about it can ruin some of the fun of being pregnant.
Fat, hormones, and your brain
When leading up to your pregnancy, your hormones and brain actually calculated the amount of fat you had available for a baby.
Your brain detected hormone levels to be normal indicating a healthy supply of stored fat. This gave the signal for your body to ovulate. If you were too thin, these hormones would have been too low, and your brain wouldn't have triggered ovulation.
Of the approximately 75,000 calories needed to create a baby, you already have enough stored fat to get you through the first trimester without increasing your daily calorie intake.
The following table shows an estimate of how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.
BMI = weight divided by (height in inches x height in inches) x 703
|If you are...||with a BMI of...||you should gain...|
|Normal Weight||18.5-24.9||25-35 lbs|
|Carrying Twins||35-45 lbs|
The obvious risk of gaining too much weight is that it will be harder to lose the weight after you deliver your baby.
Women that gain more than the recommended weight while pregnant tend to be about 20 pounds heavier a decade after their pregnancy than women maintaining a healthy weight.
The excessive fat cells produce leptin and other hormones that slow your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight.
Another reason you should be careful about what to eat during pregnancy is overeating will likely make your hormones chaotic.
For example, when you go on a sugar binge your insulin levels shoot up. If you do this repeatedly, you could have chronically high levels of insulin which increases your child's risk of diabetes and heart disease later in life.
This doesn't mean that indulging in an ice cream craving is going to create lifelong problems for your baby. What's important is to try eating in moderation and don't make a daily habit of it.
Eating in moderation is essential for hormone balance, especially when you're pregnant.
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