Study reveals that early pregnancy weight gain impacts baby's size

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How to keep your pregnancy weight gain healthy?

Pregnancy weight can be a topic of concern for many new mums. It’s safe to say that losing those extra kilos can be a difficult task. At times such weight gain can also lead to health problems. But did you know that research reveals your pre-pregnancy and early pregnancy weight gain can be a bigger cause of concern?

Pre-pregnancy and early pregnancy weight gain impacts baby’s size at birth

Recent research reveals that early pregnancy weight gain in women is more likely to lead to birthing unusually large babies. Moreover, such babies could be at a risk of many health problems in later life. 

early pregnancy weight gain

Early pregnancy weight gain impacts baby’s birth weight. | Image: File Image

Dr Ravi Retnakaran of Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario shares: “Typically in pregnancy we’re very focused on weight gain. Pregnant women have their weight measured at every appointment to see how much they are gaining. Traditionally in the past, it’s never been clear if the timing of the weight gain matters.”

He further shared that it was difficult to study the timing. This is mainly because researchers usually rely on a pregnant mum’s reporting of her own weight. And that may not be always accurate. 

Early pregnancy weight gain has more impact compared to pre-pregnancy weight gain

The study involved 1164 newly-married women from the Liuyang region of China. Dr Retanakaran, along with his team, kept records of the pre-pregnancy weight of all the participants.

On an average, pre-pregnancy weight was recorded 20 weeks prior to conception. Even after they became pregnant, their weight was being recorded at regular intervals. 

early pregnancy weight gain

Research about early pregnancy weight gain

The researchers observed that a woman’s pregnancy and early pregnancy weight gain, up to the 18th week of pregnancy, was associated with the baby’s birth weight.

So, when a woman gained one kilo in this early period — before 14 weeks — the baby’s birth weight went up by 13.6 grams.

At the same time, a similar weight gain between the period of 14 and 18 weeks of pregnancy led to a birth weight rise of 26.1 grams. A weight gain after 18 weeks of pregnancy did not show any impact on newborn size though. 

Early pregnancy weight gain: Why does it affect the birth weight?

During the early pregnancy period, the foetus is actually growing quite slowly. So, any weight gain is mainly related to the pregnant mother’s body. Such early pregnancy weight gain can expose your baby to additional maternal energy-dense nutrients, that is, glucose and amino acids. This in turn, affects the baby’s growth and puts the baby at a risk of metabolic problems. 

early pregnancy weight gain

Why early pregnancy weight gain impacts the baby’s birth weight?

Dr Retnakaran and his team found out that diet and physical activity can help in reducing the risk of delivering unusually large babies, if started in time.

Early pregnancy weight gain: keeping it healthy

  • Ideal weight gain during pregnancy: Throughout pregnancy, women usually put on anywhere between 25 and 35 pounds, or 11.5 and 16 kilos. 
early pregnancy weight gain

Early pregnancy weight gain: keeping it healthy

  • 35 pounds or 16 kilos can be broken up as follows: 
  1. Baby’s weight: 8 pounds or 3.5 kilos
  2. Weight of placenta: 2 to 3 pounds or 1 to 1.5 kilos
  3. Weight of amniotic fluid: 2 to 3 pounds or 1 to 1.5 kilograms
  4. Breast tissue: 2 to 3 pounds or 1 to 1.5 kilograms
  5. Weight of blood supply: 4 pounds or 2 kilograms
  6. Fat stores: 5 to 9 pounds or 2.5 to 4 kilograms
  7. Uterus growth: 2 to 5 pounds or 1 to 2.5 kilograms
  • Eating healthy: Go for fresh fruits, vegetables as they are full of vitamins but low in calories and fat. You can also eat whole grain breads, crackers and cereals. While you need milk products on a daily basis when you are pregnant, you can keep the intake limited to four servings a day. 
    Apart from that you should avoid artificial sweeteners, added sugars, corn syrup, sweetened drinks, junk food and other unhealthy food. 
  • Regular exercise: Walking and swimming are safe during pregnancy. You can also consult your doctor about other exercises that you can follow when you are pregnant.

 

Sources: JAMA NetworkFox News, Medscape, Medline Plus

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