It started quiet and slow, with fatigue, morning sickness, and intense breast pain. Perhaps you experienced some bloating in the early weeks. Then you noticed a curve to your belly. Your tender breasts became swollen. New meaning was brought to "cup runneth over" and suddenly when you look in the mirror you see the body of a mother-to-be.
Your breast tissue is preparing for its work of producing milk. The ducts, blood vessels and surrounding tissues are growing. Soon, you'll have the ability to support life with only your breasts. How amazing is that?
You may notice that you are filling out in other areas, too. Did you know that your body stores fat to ensure your baby's needs are met when breast milk will be his or her primary source of nutrition?
Weight gain during pregnancy includes extra blood, fluids and protein, increased breasts tissue and energy reserves for breastfeeding, uterine growth, the placenta, your baby and the amniotic fluid.
But that scale! The number keeps climbing, or dropping, or staying the same. You've been assured that weight gain is an important part of a healthy pregnancy but how much is too much? or not enough?
The right amount of weight gain during pregnancy has a number of benefits including:
In prenatal classes and as doulas, we base our recommendations on Health Canada's guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. The Health Canada guidelines are based on body mass index (BMI) and you can even use their handy pregnancy weight gain calculator. Generally speaking, if your body mass index is low you'll want to gain more weight, if your body mass index is high, you will want to gain less weight.
If you're struggling to gain weight, avoid gaining too much weight, or you're feeling anxious about pregnancy weight gain for any reason, talk to your doctor. Focus on health and fitness, not weight and size. Find a friend that can help you be accountable, ideally one that can eat healthy with you and encourages you to be active.