Ideally, you will be at a healthy weight before you become pregnant and then gain the advised amount of weight during pregnancy. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. There can be consequences to gaining too much or too little weight over the course of your pregnancy. The baby's birth weight and/ or size at birth depends on your weight gain during pregnancy. Appropriate weight gain ensures a healthier outcome for both you and your baby.
Your goal should be to maintain a steady weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Your baby requires a daily supply of essential nutrients during your entire pregnancy, and that comes from what you eat every day. Expect your weight gain to fluctuate a bit from week to week and to gain more or less depending on the stage of your pregnancy. However, if your weight fluctuates too much or changes suddenly, that could be a warning sign. Be aware of some of the following red flags:
Gaining more than 3 pounds in any one week during your second trimester
Gaining more than 2 pounds in any one week during your third trimester
Not gaining any weight for more than two weeks in a row at any time during the fourth through the eighth months
Gaining more weight than you anticipated (given that you are diligent about sticking to a well-balanced, healthy meal plan daily)
If you experience any of these or other warning signs, you should contact your doctor.
Don't be obsessive about weighing yourself every day. Your weight can fluctuate too much from day to day to pinpoint possible problems this way. Instead, make regular doctor's visits, and weigh yourself at home every week or two to make sure you are on the right track.
If you experience any sudden weight changes, including either a gain or loss, you should contact your doctor immediately. Sudden weight changes can indicate other problems that may exist.
Size at Birth Counts
An infant's weight and size at birth can be related to the risk of immediate health problems as well as to the risk of chronic diseases in childhood and adulthood. Although many factors can contribute to a baby's birth weight, the amount of weight a mother gains during pregnancy can definitely have a direct impact on an infant's size at birth. A baby who weighs too much or too little at birth can experience a number of problems.
Babies born weighing less than 2,500 grams, or about 5 pounds 8 ounces, are considered low birth-weight babies. Infants weighing less than 2,500 grams at birth may be premature (born before the thirty-seventh week of pregnancy) or full-term but “small for gestational age” (SGA) or “growth restricted.” Babies can be premature but weigh more than 2,500 grams at birth. Some infants can be both premature and SGA. These infants are at even higher risk for problems linked to low birth weight. Technically, a baby is considered “larger than gestational age” (LGA) at more than 4,500 grams, or about 9.9 pounds, at birth.
Low birth-weight (or SGA) babies run the risk of developing more serious health problems as newborns, such as breathing and heart problems. They also have a higher risk for delayed developmental problems and learning disabilities later in life. Babies born at a low birth weight are more likely to experience asthma, respiratory tract infections, and ear infections. They are more likely to score lower on intelligence tests and to experience developmental delays. Those born weighing less than 2.2 pounds are at greater risk for cerebral palsy.
Infants born at an average weight and size run the least risk of problems as newborns and have the least risk of problems related to their size later in life. High birth-weight (or LGA) babies put both the mother and baby at risk for a more difficult labor and delivery. These babies can also have problems with low blood sugar and high blood counts at birth. LGA babies have a greater risk for carrying excess body fat during childhood and throughout adulthood.