As women, we’ve spent our entire lives exposed to the message that thinner, slimmer, or leaner is always better. The media continually bombards us with images of the perfect female form, from the Barbie we play with as a child, to the flawless celebrity body on our screens, the super-fit influencer we should follow, the wafer-thin catwalk model, and the latest diet fad we should adopt. After 30+ years, it’s no wonder that embracing the weight gain associated with pregnancy can take a while to get your head around.
It is completely normal and in most circumstances, if your pregnancy is progressing well, the scale weight should be starting to show a pretty consistent increase. It can feel like yet another unwelcome side effect and switching your thinking to accept this may take some work, particularly with life now a continuous hormonal rollercoaster.
Knowledge is power. So, before letting your weight concerns impact the next nine (and then some) months, it’s worth taking the time to understand the numerous components that make up all of that ‘weight’.
Firstly, a bit about fat gain to put your mind at ease. For every additional pound of pure fat you gain, you would have to consume an extra 3,500 calories. There will be certain points during pregnancy where you will see the pounds increase faster than you ever thought possible, but rest assured unless you’ve spent the last few weeks mainlining 'all you can eat' buffet, this weight gain is unlikely to be purely fat.
According to the NHS, most women will put on about 10-12.5kg of weight (not just fat) during pregnancy, and I've included a rough breakdown of how this might look after nine months below:
Apparently, you should put the majority of this weight on in the second half of pregnancy however, as with most things relating to the human body, this is all very person and pregnancy-dependent. How much you individually should put on is also all dependent on your starting weight. If you're underweight, you’ll need more, and overweight, not so much as you already have some energy stores for use post-birth.
All very easily done in an ideal world however the reality may look a little different as hormones, nausea, fatigue, cravings, food aversions, injury, and mental well-being will all play a huge role in how much weight you personally gain. Unless you're endangering your health I wouldn’t get too hung up on the specifics. Everyone is different but it’s always good to know that a minimum 10kg scale increase is perfectly normal when growing a human.
Personally, my weight started to change quite early in pregnancy. Activity levels took a bit of a dive (lockdown/preggo combo) and with all meals requiring a substantial serving of carbs in order to be edible, this was fairly inevitable (I've never been one to lose my appetite).
I stopped weighing myself pretty quickly. When the only way is up no one needs that on a daily basis and without getting my body fat measured, I really had no way of knowing exactly how much was baby and how much was fat. Instead, I focused on health (or as healthy as you can manage at various stages).
So, next time you’re looking at the scale in a state of disbelief, remind yourself of this:
The majority of the weight will disappear immediately (or pretty rapidly) after birth (see chart), and whatever’s left is there to provide food for your baby.
Any extra may require a little bit more effort on your part but you can deal with this when the time is right.
It’s all part of the process.