Few women enjoy watching the numbers on the scale slowly creep into uncharted territory, but when a bouncing bundle of joy is the source of your waistline woes, it really should be a cause for celebration! Before you kick off the festivities with a hefty portion of cake though, keep in mind that there are a few simple rules you should follow while packing on the prenatal pounds.
There’s a reason why it seems to take forever before strangers start noticing your budding belly, and why you suddenly wake up one morning with a supersized silhouette: Your weight gain during pregnancy will not be dispersed evenly over the course of your pregnancy. To maintain a healthy pace (and minimize your chances of developing stretch marks!), try sticking to the recommended rate for each trimester:
1st trimester: 2 to 4 pounds total
2nd trimester: 1 to 1.5 pounds per week
3rd trimester: 1 pound per week
The average woman only needs to add about 100 to 300 calories to her diet during pregnancy to gain the recommended amount of weight. Of course, since no two women are the same, your weight gain during pregnancy may vary a little from week to week. Also, if you were overweight or underweight pre-pregnancy, your doctor might have different recommendations.
Whether you were off to a running start in your first trimester, slowly expanded day by day, or sporadically tipped the scales, the end result will hopefully fall within the healthy range for your pre-pregnancy shape, depending on your body mass index:
Average (18.5 to 25 BMI): 25 to 35 pounds
Overweight (25 to 30 BMI): 15 to 25 pounds
Obese (over 30 BMI): 11 to 20 pounds
Underweight (under 18.5 BMI): 28 to 40 pounds
Baby weight breakdown
Looking at the numbers, it’s easy to wonder how a 7-pound baby could add an extra 30 pounds to your once bump-free frame. Surprisingly, the difference is hardly due to the ice cream cravings you indulged in around week 28—there’s actually a logical explanation behind the extra weight. Based on a total weight gain of 30 pounds, here’s what you can expect to be hauling around by delivery day.
Placenta: 1.5 pounds
Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
Uterus: 2 pounds
Breast tissue: 2 pounds
Blood volume: 4 pounds
Tissue fluids: 4 pounds
Fat: 7 pounds
Baby: 7.5 pounds
What goes up will come down
Before you panic about the creeping numbers on the scale, remember that you will lose weight from the baby, placenta, amniotic fluid and blood right after the birth, leaving you instantly about 12 pounds lighter. Even the strictest diet plan can’t beat those results! However, due to excess fluid retention, you’ll still look about six months pregnant when you’re discharged from the hospital. You can expect to shed another 9 pounds in the six weeks following baby’s birth as your body expels some of these fluids, which makes for a total of 21 pounds of weight loss without even hitting the gym.