First 1000 days: Weight Gain During Pregnancy

As a mother or a mother to be, there is only one universal hope: for the child to grow up healthy and strong. Proper nutrition begins right from pregnancy through to a child’s second birthday and yields long lasting benefits throughout the life of the child. Properly nourished kids are healthier and are said to perform better in school according to science and ideally have increased potential.

However, as any mother would probably attest to, it is not easy to nurture a child into becoming a grown-up who can independently make their own food choices without supervision. In the first place, breast milk being the first food that a child is introduced to is in itself a challenging task on the mother’s side. While that will be a subject of discussion in another article, this article aims at enlightening you about how critical the first 1000 days of your child are, and most importantly about weight gain during pregnancy.

Malnutrition during these days is real and causes devastating impact even to the most elite of mothers! It leaves the child with stunted growth, cognitive impairments and constant ill health which of course results to a lifetime of an unrealized potential. The beginning is always forgotten. The “elephant” issue about weight gain! Just how much should you gain? Does your pre-conception weight really matter?

Not only is the weight and health status of a mother at the time of conception important, but the amount of weight gain during pregnancy is also now known to have consequences for the infant. For example, too little weight gain is associated with babies being born small for gestational age and, many times, preterm.12790989_1116210048403764_495489048721280388_n

Moms with too much weight gain in pregnancy are more likely to develop metabolic issues like gestational diabetes or blood pressure problems, and the babies are often born large for gestational age. In both cases – under- and over- nutrition in pregnancy has been shown to translate to weight and obesity in childhood and adult life.

There is an abundance of solid scientific evidence that suggests that mothers entering pregnancy heavier than their ‘ideal’ weight or body mass index (BMI) have an increased risk of maternal complications during the pregnancy. Pregnancy in most of our traditions is a known “condition that prompts a woman to eat for two”. This is a century-old idea that most probably existed when food was less processed and did not create an obesogenic environment. Currently, scientific studies have proven that women must be cautious of their preconception weight and monitor their weight gain throughout pregnancy!

Pregnancy is a time in a woman’s life when she is more likely than any other time to adopt new health behaviors to give her unborn child the best start in life. For instance, women will quit smoking, avoid caffeine or soda, increase fruits and vegetables, and take a vitamin. There is no better time in fact to adopt new behaviors that support a healthy lifestyle that will hopefully be carried forward with her in her life for many years after the birth of her baby. Unfortunately, pregnancy can also be a window to poor health outcomes for mom and baby. Optimizing health and nutrition for pregnancy and beyond needs to be at the forefront of thinking for moms from day one!

But here are weight recommendations from several scientific studies I reviewed:

 

TABLE S-1 New Recommendations for Total and Rate of Weight Gain During Pregnancy, by Prepregnancy BMI

Prepregnancy BMI

Total Weight Gain

Rates of Weight Gain* 2nd and 3rd Trimester

Range in kg

Range in lbs

Mean (range) in kg/week

Mean (range) in lbs/week

Underweight (< 18.5 kg/m2)

12.5-18

28-40

0.51 (0.44-0.58)

1 (1-1.3)

Normal weight (18.5-24.9 kg/m2)

11.5-16

25-35

0.42 (0.35-0.50)

1 (0.8-1)

Overweight (25.0-29.9 kg/m2)

7-11.5

15-25

0.28 (0.23-0.33)

0.6 (0.5-0.7)

Obese (≥ 30.0 kg/m2)

5-9

11-20

0.22 (0.17-0.27)

0.5 (0.4-0.6)

* Calculations assume a 0.5-2 kg (1.1-4.4 lbs) weight gain in the first trimester (based on Siega-Riz et al., 1994; Abrams et al., 1995; Carmichael et al., 1997).

This weight comes from the increase in breast tissue, placenta, fluid volume, uterus,maternal fat stores, and amniotic fluid. It is thus recommended to regulate calorie intake with the pregnancy term progress

I know you have lots of questions post them here>>

Written by Nduta Wambura

Nduta Wambura is a certified Clinical Nutritionist and Public Health advocate

Website: http://www.ask-thenutritionist.com