During pregnancy is not the right time for a mother or aspiring mother to lose weight. The extra fat or pound of flesh on their bodies is very essential for the development of the foetus. Women are encouraged to increase their body weight with between 25 – 35 pounds for the average weight mothers, 28 – 40 pounds for the underweight mothers and 15 – 25 pounds for the overweight ones.
Pregnant women are particularly encouraged to consume foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are preferred due to their lack of cholesterol which is commonly referred to as ‘bad’ fats due to their associated health hazards. Omega 6 & 6 are richly found in sea foods and fish while plant foods are the best sources of monounsaturated fats.
The fats are essential for optimal development of the baby’s brain and eyes before and after birth. They are also important in the placental and tissue growth during pregnancy hence helping avoid pre-term births and low birth weight.
The mother’s weight has a direct influence on the unborn baby. Therefore, to ensure optimum weight gain, the expectant mother needs to take 100 – 300 kcals above her normal daily energy requirements. This ensures that the baby is supplied with all the required essential nutrients for growth.
Maintaining the recommended weight during pregnancy has a miraid of importances to both the expectant woman and her unborn baby. These includes prevention of infections and birth defects associated with low birth weight. It also prevents pre-term births and child mortality during the first few months of life.
To the mother, the increased weight reduces the mother’s risk of complications such as anemia and pre-eclampsia.
Obese women are however advised to shade off some weight. As much as the underweight expectant woman is at risk of complications, an obese woman has been indicated to be prone to having elevated risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, neural tube defects and still birth and having a large for gestational age infant.
Weight gain should however be distributed throughout the three trimesters of pregnancy with the highest gain being in the first trimester. The pregnant woman is recommended to gain 6 pounds per month for the first trimester. This however drops to 1.5 pounds per month throughout the second and third trimester. It’s however recommended for a lady to start going for antenatal care as soon as she starts planning to have a baby – preferably one year prior. This is however unattainable since most women find themselves pregnant.
Most women don’t plan their pregnancies. However, it’s good for a lady – together with her spouse – to visit a clinic in order to get appropriate advice on weight gain and the pattern thereof.