What Is A Healthy BMI During Pregnancy?

It is normal to gain weight during pregnancy as the baby develops in the womb and the body undergoes changes. However, gaining more or less weight than what is recommended can have implications for you and the baby.

This is why doctors keep a regular check on your weight changes right from the beginning of the pregnancy. Your body fat percentage in relation to your height and weight (BMI) determines the recommended weight gain for your pregnancy.  

In this guide, let us try to understand what is a healthy BMI and weight gain during pregnancy.

What Is A Healthy BMI During Pregnancy?

Though weight is a highly sensitive matter for women, it is an important consideration during pregnancy because achieving a healthy weight benefits both the baby and the mother. By gaining a healthy weight, you protect the health and well-being of the developing baby. Being overweight or underweight increases the risks of complications during pregnancy.

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When it comes to determining the healthy pregnancy weight gain, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The right weight gain for a woman depends on different factors including the pre-pregnancy weight as well as body mass index. Your overall health and the baby’s health also play an important role. Your BMI is calculated at the first appointment with the doctor during pregnancy to be able to determine if you have a healthy weight for your height and whether your weight can cause problems. 

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A BMI between 18.5 and 25 is considered to be healthy for pregnancy. If it is below 18.5, you are underweight and have an increased chance of miscarriage and delivering a premature baby along with low birth weight and nutrition-related issues. A BMI above 25 classifies you as overweight while anything above 30 means you are obese and have risks of complications during pregnancy.

Is BMI Accurate During Pregnancy?

Body mass index (BMI) is a calculation of your body fat in relation to your body weight and height. Though BMI is accepted as a popular measure of health these days, recent studies have suggested that it is not an accurate indicator of one’s health condition. The current mindset of health care providers classifies women with BMI outside a healthy range as carrying high risk. Most often, women who are healthy and have no risk factors are asked to maintain a healthy weight to avoid any problems.

Research suggests that an accurate measure of health is not based on how much you weigh but where in the body you are carrying excessive weight. BMI does not consider where the fat is stored in the body. It is, therefore, better to use the waist to height ratio to get a good idea of a woman’s health by understanding whether fat is stored around vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, and heart. However, women with a high BMI are encouraged to lose weight before pregnancy to lower the risks of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and other health problems.

Calculating BMI During Pregnancy

BMI is calculated as the weight in kgs divided by the square of height in meters. Determining your BMI before pregnancy helps you calculate the ideal weight you should put on throughout your pregnancy. If you have a BMI in a healthy range between 18.5 and 25, you should gain anywhere between 11.5 and 16kg of weight; 1-1.5kg in the first trimester and 1.5-2kg per month until you deliver.

Calculating your BMI during pregnancy is not complicated. To determine your BMI, you should get your pregnancy weight approximation from the doctor. This weight is generally the weight of your baby as well as the weight from increased fluids, fat stores, and increased sizes of placenta, breasts, and uterus. You can then subtract it from your total weight to determine your body weight. You can then calculate the BMI with the help of this weight.  

Dealing With Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Weight gain is a natural and healthy process for pregnant women. Not only does your baby grow over time but your body also develops extra tissues to support pregnancy. However, it is important that you put on a recommended amount of weight as calculated on the basis of your pre-pregnancy BMI and other factors. Your weight gain is monitored throughout your pregnancy as gaining more than normal-weight can increase your risk of complications.

Babies born to mothers putting on too much weight during pregnancy are likely to be overweight and obese in their later life and have a higher risk of developing heart and health problems. If your pre-pregnancy weight falls in a normal range, you should only gain 0.5-1.8kgs in the initial months. It is important to gain a steady weight in the second and third trimesters; about 0.5kg per week.

If you have a high BMI during pregnancy or put on more than normal weight, you should take precautions and follow some guidelines to ensure your pregnancy does not invite complications. Try to stick to a healthy and nutritious diet including cereals, whole grains, fish, lean meat, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy.

To deal with excessive weight gain during pregnancy, make sure you avoid sugary food and drinks, fatty items, and fast foods. Indulge in some type of exercise every day to keep your weight gain in the normal range. Start slowly and incorporate swimming, walking, and pregnancy exercises in your routine to prevent putting on extra weight.

Final Thoughts

Body mass index is one of the most significant considerations for pregnancy. While a high BMI suggests a higher risk of developing complications during pregnancy, it should not deter you from planning to get pregnant.

To proceed with a healthy pregnancy, you can work with your health care provider to carefully manage your weight, pay attention to your diet and exercise and get regular antennal care to analyze risks and complications. A healthy diet and an active lifestyle are the first steps in your journey towards a problem-free pregnancy.

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