Nutrition during pregnancy
Weight gain should be welcome during the nine months of pregnancy. Yet many pregnant woman worry about their weight.
“Can you see anything yet?” The only time when women get excited about watching their bellies slowly expand is when they are pregnant. When a woman is expecting, weight gain isn’t just allowed – it’s desirable. After all, “now I’m eating for two”. Prior to becoming pregnant most women (and men) watch their weight, but after a positive pregnancy test, the floodgates tend to open when it comes to food. Your pants won’t fit soon anyway and pregnancy hormones will likely trigger irresistible cravings for sweet or sour food. So we simply eat what we want. If only the health food gurus weren’t wagging their fingers at us and our gynaecologist wasn’t giving us such stern looks!
Gaining between 10 and 16 kilos during pregnancy is normal, they say. Less can cause the baby to be malnourished and putting on more weight (for instance, 20 kilos or more over the nine months) significantly increases the risk of complications and disorders like gestational diabetes, back pain and high blood pressure. As a general rule: the lower your weight when you become pregnant, the more weight you are allowed to gain.
Concrete figures about what constitutes permissible or excessive weight gain can cause some women to worry unnecessarily. This is particularly evident in online forums, where women frequently bemoan their increasing weight with exclamations like: “I’m only in the 20th week of pregnancy and I’ve already put on 5.5 kg!” But at least they can draw comfort from the stories of countless other women going through the same experience.
There are natural reasons why pregnancy causes weight gain and a significantly rounder figure: to start with, after nine months the baby weighs around 3 or 4 kilos. Add to this the womb, which weighs around 1.5 kg, about 1 kg of amniotic fluid and roughly 700 g of placenta. The breasts also become about 500 g heavier and the amount of blood in increases by around 2 kg. Fluid retention (oedema) also contributes to the woman’s overall weight.