Pregnancy is a beautiful phenomenon, and it is the most precious gift given to both father and mother. As your baby is growing, you will be putting on weight gradually. Ideally, every woman’s dream is not to put on too much weight and be able to keep themselves as fit as possible throughout the pregnancy journey.
Why do I gain weight?
However, weight gain is very normal when you are pregnant especially when your baby is growing inside of you, and your body is also growing extra body tissue to adapt in pregnancy. Mainly the weight that you will be gaining during pregnancy is not exactly the fat, in fact, the weight is related to the growth of the baby. Here’s the breakdown of the weight that you might be putting on:
Source from National Institutes of Health (NIH 2020)
How much should I gain?
The total amount of recommended weight gain is determined by the woman’s body mass index (BMI) status before pregnancy. BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters.
Pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI)
Recommended Total Weight Gain (kg)
Less than 18.5 (Underweight)
12.7 – 18.1 kg
18.5 – 24.9 (Normal Weight)
11.3 – 15.9 kg
25.0 – 29.9 (Overweight)
6.8 – 11.3 kg
Above 30 (Obese)
5.0 – 9.1 kg
*Adopted from Institute of Medical Guidelines (IOM 2009)
Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculation = Weight (kg)/[Height(m)]2
For example: KingKong is 58kg and 1.68m before pregnancy.
BMI of KingKong = 58kg / (1.68m)2
Since KingKong has a normal weight before pregnancy, hence the recommended total weight gain for her is between 11.3kg to 15.9kg.
What if I gain less/more than the recommended weight during pregnancy?
Even though it is completely normal to gain some weight throughout pregnancy, gaining too much weight during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of diabetes during pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes, getting high blood pressure with complications during pregnancy, known as pre-eclampsia. Other than these, too much weight could lead to having a larger baby which will increase the chances of delivery complications and may result in caesarean section delivery. You may require more time to lose weight after delivery too, which might increase the risk of some health complications, for instance, obesity.
On the contrary, not putting on enough weight during pregnancy can increase the probability of having a preterm birth, or the baby born will be too small or may have issues in starting breastfeeding, prone to get illnesses, and thus affect the child’s developmental milestone for his or her age.
Don’t be too concerned about the weight gain or not gaining enough weight. You can always speak up and discuss with your doctor about the suitable amount of weight to put on during pregnancy. Try to consume nutrient-dense and balanced meals instead of solely focusing on the figures of the weighing scales. For those pregnant women who find difficult on meeting the recommended weight gain, you can always work along with doctor or healthcare professional to achieve a workable solution.
However, if you gain more than doctor’s recommendation, don’t be too stressed out. Cut off calories' dense food and work along with doctor to keep on monitoring the weight changes and any possible health complications during pregnancy and upon giving birth. Generally, you will only be required to lose weight after delivery. In most of the cases, it is not recommended for pregnant women to try to lose weight or go on a diet. A pregnant woman should only lose weight under doctor’s supervision.
How to maintain healthy weight gain
1. Balanced diet
- Consume a variety of food from each food group: Bread, rice, and cereals made with whole grains, lean meat as a source of protein, fresh fruits, and vegetables which provide vitamins and minerals, and reduced-fat dairy products as a source of calcium.
2. Limit intake of sugary drinks and high-calorie snacks
- Sweetened drinks such as 3-in-1 coffee, teh Tarik, soft drinks are the source of calories-dense food. Choose plain water, unsweetened tea or coffee to avoid all the extra calories
- Donuts, cakes, potato chips, deep-fried street food such as lekor and pisang goreng contain a high amount of calories with limited nutrients. Instead of all these foods, try to get fresh fruit served with low-fat yogurt, homemade smoothie as lower-calorie and healthy version choices of snacks.
3. Physically active
- At least 30 minutes of exercises such as brisk walking, aqua aerobics and swimming on most days is relatively safe for pregnant women to help burn off excess calories. Discuss with your healthcare provider if there is any physical activity restriction before you get started.
4. Track pregnancy weight gain and compare with the recommended range to reach goals, work along with your trusted healthcare advisor regularly.
Not sure what to consume for a healthy weight gain? Nestle® MOM with PRENATAL PLUS is a delicious, formulated milk powder specially designed for pregnancy and lactation.
Nestle® MOM contains:
- Prebiotic (FOS) promotes the growth of good Bifidus bacteria to help maintain a good intestinal environment
- A2 milk protein for easy digestion
- High in folic acid and calcium for supporting fetal growth, and stronger teeth and bone development
- Contains DHA
- No added sugar
- Less fat
- National Institutes of Health, 2020. Managing your weight gain during pregnancy: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available Here [Accessed 17 February 2022].
- Committee Opinion No. 548. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2013. Weight gain during pregnancy. 121(1), pp.210-212.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021. Weight Gain During Pregnancy | Pregnancy | Maternal and Infant Health | CDC. [online] Available Here [Accessed 17 February 2022].
- Best Start by Health Nexus, 2018. A Healthy Start for Baby and Me. Toronto, Ontario, Canada, pp.21-22.