We all know that a woman’s belly balloons out when she is expecting. But, have you ever stopped to think what causes all that weight gain, of nearly 30 pounds (13 kilograms)? Like the million odd other pregnant woman, who sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sudden weight gain, everyone has questions. And, we’re fairly certain that the first question that’ll spring to mind is, if a baby only weighs around seven pounds (3.15 kilograms) at birth, why do mothers put on nearly four times that amount of weight?
The American Pregnancy Association encourages average-weight women to gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, while obese women should gain 15-25 pounds when they’re expecting. Here, Dr. Jennifer Wider, M D and Medical Advisor to Cosmopolitan, gives us a breakdown and answers all your questions about your weight gain during pregnancy.
1. The Baby (Eight pounds):
This one needs no introduction. Predictably, your unborn child will make up the bulk of the weight you gain when you’re expecting. When the baby is in the womb, the mother typically reaches a weight of around 8 pounds.
2. The Placenta (Two to three pounds):
The placenta is an organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall, to allow processes like waste elimination, nutrient uptake, gas exchange, and thermo-regulating the fetus to make the environment warm enough for your developing baby. It makes up around 2-3 pounds of your pregnancy weight.
3. Amniotic Fluid (Two to three pounds):
Your pregnancy water, amniotic fluid, or liquor amnii, is the fluid contained in the amniotic sac. The fluid is made up of electrolytes, but after the first trimester, the fluid also stores proteins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. The amniotic fluid, like the placenta, makes up around 2-3 pounds of your pregnancy weight.
4. Your Breasts (Two to three pounds):
5. Extra Blood (Four pounds):
The extra blood that your baby needs for her development is also something that only adds to your pregnancy weight. In fact, the extra blood that your body pumps weighs more than your placenta, or your pregnancy water when you’re expecting.
6. Fat Stores For Delivery/Nursing (6-9 pounds):
Your body prepares for labor in a myriad of ways. And, one of the most important processes is storing fat for a smoother delivery, and for later nursing needs for your body. While you are pregnant, your body begins storing up on fat, and at one point, the fat stores can, and do, weigh more than your developing baby. Incredible isn’t it?
7. Large Uterus (2-5 pounds):
Did you know that the uterus can expand to 50 times its normal size during pregnancy? Don’t worry, though; it shrinks back to its normal size once you have delivered a baby. But, it still adds considerable bulk to your pregnancy weight. The uterus accounts for 2-5 pounds of the pregnancy weight.
All of that weight, mentioned above, comes up to around 35 pounds or 13 kilograms.