The US is facing an obesity epidemic and overweight crisis.
Women are also experiencing a rise in pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) and gestational weight gain.
These factors impact body composition changes during pregnancy. We can observe this through changes in different aspects.
These are namely gestational weight gain (GWG), which includes:
- gains in fat mass (FM) of the mother and the fetus
- fat-free mass (FFM)
- the placenta and amniotic fluid.
During pregnancy, the mother must sustain optimal health.
Consequently, the baby stays healthy, as well. For this, the mother needs to maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy.
Women who are overweight during childbearing age tend to put on excessive weight during their pregnancy.
This results in an increased risk of a cesarean procedure and high birth weight.
Therefore, it is important to keep track of your body mass composition during maternity in order to maintain a healthy weight.
Knowing where you started and measuring as you progress can help create a healthier pregnancy, resulting in a healthier baby.
How Much Weight Should You Gain During Pregnancy?
This depends upon your pre-pregnancy weight and if your gynecologist suggests you should gain weight.
A woman with weight in the normal range before pregnancy tends to gain around 25-35 pounds.
An underweight woman should gain about 28-40 pounds, but women who fall in the overweight range should only put on 15-25 pounds.
Gynecologists suggest that you should only put on 2-4 pounds during the first trimester.
You might not be able to gain any body weight during these months or might even end up losing some if you're suffering from morning sickness. This is normal if you make up for it in the next 5-6 months.
On the contrary, you can also gain more than the prescribed weight if you experience cravings. In this case, you need to keep a strict eye on the scale, as maintaining a healthy weight is the goal here.
In the second trimester, your baby starts to grow, and so do you. Thus, you should be gaining around 12-14 pounds during these mid-three months.
The third trimester is the most crucial one as the baby's weight is at its fullest. You can gain weight of about 8-10 pounds here, but no rule of thumb guarantees that.
Your abdominal quarters get so tight that you might find it difficult to keep food down during these months. You might witness your weight remaining stable, or you might end up losing some pounds even, all of which is perfectly normal.
As all of these are averages, and they can vary from person to person, so there is no need to stress if your weight doesn't change according to the above-mentioned stats.
The main objective here is to maintain a healthy weight, and for that, you need to keep your eyes on the scale.
If you are gaining more than three pounds in one week in the second trimester or two pounds in one week of the third trimester, schedule an appointment with your doctor because sudden weight gain can be a sign of preeclampsia.
A cohort study of prenatal exposure and preeclampsia showed that early pregnancy fat is very important.
Ideal Fat Percentage during Pregnancy
Studies show that about 17-19 percent of body fat is ideal for most women, but it can change.
But to measure the ideal body fat in pregnant women, studies have used skinfold measurements.
For this, they measure total body water, body density, and body potassium.
Studies have also used ultrasound as a measurement of subcutaneous fat, but medical practitioners have yet to develop solid protocols for body fat assessment.
Is it OK To Lose Body Fat While Pregnant?
It is OK to lose weight during pregnancy in the case of obese women. However, it might not be very healthy to lose lots of weight if you had a normal BMI.
If you're obese, you may want to reduce weight before getting pregnant, as it can prove beneficial in the long term.
Being obese during pregnancy can lead to premature birth, stillbirth, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, cesarean delivery, sleep apnea, and heart defects in the baby.
So, it is best to know the amount of weight you should gain during your pregnancy to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In the case of obesity, you must begin on the regime of weight loss.
Total Body Water
During pregnancy, total body water increases in the body due to the fetus, placenta, and amniotic fluid.
The blood volume in the mother also enlarges, which increases total body water.
You also experience an increase in the extracellular water, which your doctor can measure with an extracellular tracer.
Or, they can measure the total body potassium and calculate the difference from the total body water.
The ratio of intracellular to extracellular water may vary between women and by the gestational age.
How Much Does Amniotic Fluid weigh?
Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby in the womb and weighs about 2 pounds.
Is It Normal To Gain Fat During Pregnancy?
It is very important to maintain a balanced level of body fat during pregnancy. Women who have high body fat and low body fat both face challenges in conceiving.
Low Body Fat and Fertility
Body fat plays a great role in infertility as it helps convert the male hormone androgen into the female hormone estrogen. As per the metrics, if you have low body fat, you will suffer from ovulation.
Many underweight women don't even know that they've stopped ovulating because they continue experiencing a regular menstrual cycle. To conceive, they need to put up weight.
Low Body Fat and Pregnancy
Low body fat also tends to interfere with a healthy pregnancy as many underweight women end up having a miscarriage in the first trimester.
The American Pregnancy Association suggests women gain 5-6 pounds of weight in the first three months to have a healthy baby.
High Body Fat and Fertility
Similar to low body fat, high body fat can also interfere with ovulation.
Excess fat stores can lead to the insensitivity of insulin and the overproduction of leptin.
This can result in inconsistent or non-existent ovulation. In this case, losing a bit of weight will result in the revamping of fertility.
High Body Fat and Pregnancy
Having a high body fat can lead to many complications during your pregnancy. Due to high body fat, the doctors might face difficulty hearing the baby's heartbeat or gauging his size.
Moreover, obese women also face more difficulty with vaginal delivery. They experience a higher risk of postpartum hemorrhaging.
How To Track Body Composition Changes During Pregnancy
There are many ways to track your body composition in the most accurate way to measure your weight from early pregnancy till the last month.
Beebo Smart Scale
The fit track has launched Beebo Smart Scale for all moms to be to track their weight in the best way possible. It is programmed with four modes of infant, pregnancy, athlete, and general mode.
It comes with 17 various metrics that can easily measure. It doesn't only tell the body weight and body mass index but also muscle mass, hydration level, obesity, and much more.
You can use it both before and after pregnancy, together with tracking the growth of your baby.
Another term for this process is hydrodensitometry or hydrostatic weighing. It is an excellent way to measure your BMI.
In this measuring technique, the subject is lowered into the water until her entire body is in the water, and the air is expelled from her lungs.
After that, medical professionals weigh the subject. This is an accurate way to keep track of your weight throughout the pregnancy.
Total Body Potassium
This measures the total body mass and potassium in the body. High potassium levels can be extremely dangerous during pregnancy as it can lead to kidney failure, cardiac arrest, or almost fatal dehydration.
Skinfold Thickness Measurement
Skinfold thickness measurement considers all the predictors measuring the total amount of body fat. It uses total body water, body potassium, and body density to accurately measure the skinfold thickness.
Longitudinal studies suggest that skinfold thickness in late pregnancy increases because of water retention and that the increase in skinfold thickness has no relation with an increase in body fat.
Pregnancy weight is easy to put on but very difficult to reduce. It is extremely unhealthy to reduce weight during pregnancy. Later on, you can shed it by breastfeeding and continuous physical activity.