Most women have insecurities about their weight – the evidence of this is in the multi-billion dollar industry that surrounds the idea of “just follow our diet and loose those stubborn kilos.” Countless books are written and we lap them up in the desperate hope that “this time will be different.” Honestly, sometimes I think we’re in a slightly deranged, abusive relationship with the idea behind weight loss. Then, we get pregnant and along with the excitement about the growing bundle of joy comes the knowledge that getting back into shape after baby’s arrival is not going to be as easy as these Victoria Secrets’ Angels would like us to believe.
Truthfully, I would weigh myself daily during the 40 weeks it takes to grow a human and berate myself every time the scale would tell me what I already knew – that I was unnecessarily eating for two. In fact, I think the eating was often more emotionally based than based on what I actually nutritionally needed. But, I managed to figure out that I was doing myself an injustice by gaining more than healthy just in time and fortunately managed to continue exercising in a healthy “preggy-friendly” way.
Now, to understand what the weight gain is during pregnancy – this (taken from www.babycenter.com) will give you a good idea:
- At birth, the average baby weighs anywhere between 2.8 and 3.3kg.
- During pregnancy, the muscle layer of your womb (uterus) grows dramatically and weighs an extra 0.9kg.
- The placenta, which nourishes your baby, weighs just over 0.5kg.
- Your breasts weigh an extra 0.4kg.
- Your blood volume increases and weighs an extra 1.2kg.
- You have extra fluid in your body, and amniotic fluid around the baby, weighing around 2.6kg.
- You will also lay down some fat during your pregnancy to provide you with extra energy for breastfeeding. This comes to about 2.5kg.
- Thus, TECHNICALLY, you should only gain 10.5-11 kg during your pregnancy – though you should also take your BMI (Body Mass Index) into account.
To calculate your BMI:
- Multiply your height in meters by your height in meters. For example 1.6 by 1.6 meters gives you 2.56.
- Then divide your weight in kg by this figure. So, if you weigh 60 kg, your BMI will be 60 divided by 2.56 = 23.44.
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BMI less than 18.5 – underweight
BMI 18.5 to 22.9 – ideal
BMI equal to or more than 23 – overweight
BMI equal to or more than 25 – obese
Experts now recommend that women should aim for a weight gain related to their pre-pregnancy BMI:
- If your BMI was less than 19.8, you should aim for a weight gain of between 12.5 and 18kg.
- If your BMI was between 19.8 and 26, you should aim for a weight gain of 11.5 to 16kg.
- If your BMI was above 26, you should aim for a weight gain of 7 to 11.5kg.
The extra kilojoules that one needs to grow a baby are nowhere near to “eating for two” and there are many suitable eating plans/guides (note – I’m not using the term “diet”) to ensure that you gain healthy weight. I gained 15kg during my pregnancy and am giving myself fair time to get back to where I was. But, you cannot blame pregnancy 18 months after having had a baby. Try to get back to your healthy size before getting pregnant again as I’ve heard it becomes harder the following times to loose the “baby weight.”
Another very importnat aspect to having a healthy pregnancy is exercise. After checking with your doctor that you’re one of the majority of women who are able to maintain their exercise routines (with some adaptations) during pregnancy, continue going to gym or going for long walks, etc. My personal favourite that helped me throughout my pregnancy was Pilates. My trainer, William Hall (www.capetownpilates.co.za) – helped me to train in a healthy way that also worked on my strength for after the baby arrived. Trust me – you’ll want to be strong when healing after the birth process and carrying around your baby. The pictures show me at 36 weeks or 8.5 months (a month before giving birth) and then again at 3 months after having my baby. Another sure way to benefit you and baby is by breastfeeding – it has honestly been the most effective and mutually beneficial “diet” for my son and I 😉 I’ve lost weight and he’s gained weight very healthily. I would recommend that you do your best to try and breastfeed exclusively for the first few months and get as much help as you need to ensure that. Lactation consultants and maternity nurses at the hospital are invaluable and will do their best to give you and your baby the best chance.
Be kind to yourself and realistic about your body – after all, you are growing a little human which is the most amazing miracle.
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