Finally, Doctors Are Admitting Some Women Don’t Gain Enough During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, you soon get in the habit of doing precisely two things at every prenatal check-up: Peeing in that cup (am I the only one that has had trouble with that??) and hopping on that dreaded scale. Ugh. 

Pregnancy weight gain, for me, seemed to have no rhyme or reason. Some weeks I wouldn't gain any weight. And then the next, inexplicably, would be like an eight-pound weight gain. I remember my midwife actually getting pretty concerned because I gained eight pounds in only a few days. And nope, there was nothing medically wrong with me. Maybe just a few too many cravings and a special ability to hold on to water like the beached whale I started to resemble. 

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The point is, weight gain during pregnancy is different for every woman. But it definitely seems like most doctors and medical experts seem to fixate on women gaining too much weight. Now, a new study has revealed that across the world, not all women gain enough weight during pregnancy. 

Image via Flickr/ deveion acker

The new study was actually an analysis of over 5,000 existing studies on pregnancy. By looking at the data in different ways, researchers were able to discover that 75% of women actually do not have a healthy weight gain, one way or another, during their pregnancies. They found that just under a quarter of women — 23%– do not gain enough weight during pregnancy. This can be a concern because it can lead to a lower birthweight newborn who may have trouble regulating blood sugar, temperature, and eating. Women who did not gain enough weight also were more at risk for premature birth. 

The rest of the women, over 75% of the expecting mothers, did gain too much weight during pregnancy. And, as you can probably guess, the majority of those women did live in more westernized countries, like the U.S. 

Looking at the data in a new way can tell us that there's still a lot we don't know about what actually is “healthy” during pregnancy. Women who are overweight before their pregnancies may actually end their pregnancies with a net loss of weight. And some women are just built differently. I know a woman who only gained eight pounds during her pregnancy and she had a perfectly fine, healthy baby. I was definitely in the camp “gained 50 pounds” each time. But I'll also fully admit that I didn't know a lot about exercise and nutrition during my pregnancies either and it did make things difficult. Plus, we can't forget the fact that pregnancy can be a very difficult time for some women. If they are on bedrest or have a medically complicated pregnancy, it can make exercise or physical activity a lot more limited. 

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Bottom line? Don't assume that just because you are pregnant you will gain too much weight. For some women, keeping a healthy weight gain is a struggle and it's important to acknowledge all different types of experiences during pregnancy. 

Did you have trouble gaining weight during your pregnancy? 

What do you think?

Finally, Doctors Are Admitting Some Women Don’t Gain Enough During Pregnancy

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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1 comment

  1. Elisha says:

    This article is very interesting to say the least. When I began my pregnancy, I weighed more than I thought so my doctors said I needed to watch my weight even though I was eating healthy. Then I had to go on a specific diet because I was at risk for gestational diabetes which thankfully I found out at 28 weeks that I didn’t have. Now I find that I still want to gain weight and eat healthy, but it’s a challenge because doctors are basing my weight gain on what I weighed at 8 weeks of pregnancy. How do I find a balance since I am now 29 weeks pregnant?


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