Weight gain during pregnancy is both something pregnant women hate to talk about and something that is continuously confusing for most women. How much weight you are supposed to gain during a normal pregnancy varies widely. It used to be that there was a one size fits all approach, however, research has shown that weight gain during pregnancy should vary depending on how the woman comes into the pregnancy. A woman who is underweight coming into the pregnancy will likely be told to gain more weight than average while a woman who comes into pregnancy overweight will be advised to gain less than average. Any special circumstances in your pregnancy will also impact your doctor's recommendations.
Weight gain during pregnancy plays many key roles including nurturing mother and baby. Much of the weight we are supposed to gain during pregnancy is directly related to the baby, resulting from the growing baby, the growing uterus, our growing breasts, and the increased volume of fluids in our body necessary to support the pregnancy. We also tend to gain a little extra weight that provides an added cushion (literally!!). This is thought to be an evolutionary thing so that our bodies have extra nutrients to continue to support the pregnancy even if we, for whatever reason, can't get food. It is important that each woman talk to her doctor or midwife about weight gain during pregnancy early on, what amount they should aim for, how best to ensure healthy weight gain during pregnancy, and any other concerns you may have.
You may know how much weight you are supposed to gain, but often we have no idea how best to go about healthy pregnancy weight gain. There is always the option of consulting a nutritionist who specializes in pregnancy, but often that is too time consuming and too expensive if not covered by your health insurance plan. Now the USDA has begun to make this task a little easier by developing food pyramids designed specifically for pregnant and breastfeeding moms. You should also discuss your diet with your doctor but this is a great way to get started and give you some information and questions to bring up.
No one likes to gain weight but during pregnancy it is important to the health of your baby. Just remember that weight gained in a healthy manner will be much easier to shed after the baby arrives.