Ideally, there’s only very minimal weight gain needed in the first trimester, and a healthy woman should put on 10-12 kgs or 22-26 lbs through the pregnancy, most of which comes from the baby, the blood, tissue fluids, and the fats stored in the body to support you through the process of pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding, but several medical conditions including hormonal imbalance, infections, undiagnosed diabetes, and an overactive thyroid can lead to weight loss during pregnancy without being triggered by morning sickness.
Being pregnant is synonymous with piling on kilos at an alarming rate, but what if you notice that it’s the reverse with you, that you are losing weight instead?
The drop in numbers on your weighing scale might confuse if not worry you, but here’s something you should know, losing weight during pregnancy is normal depending on which stage of pregnancy you are in and the reason for the weight loss.
Morning sickness is the number one culprit in losing weight during pregnancy due to the vomiting and loss of appetite that it presents, especially its more severe form experienced by some women called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, where frequent vomiting leads to more substantial weight loss.
As we discussed above, shading a few kilos in the first trimester isn’t usually an issue, but continuing to lose weight during the rest of the pregnancy can potentially cause problems for your baby as they need your body as a safe and cozy home for nine months. Those extra calories to grow and develop.
So, why would you lose weight during the rest of your pregnancy which is linked to lower birth weight for babies and preterm birth after the first trimester in the absence of morning sickness, and when should you worry about it?
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Reasons why you’d lose weight during pregnancy without morning sickness
Nutrition is vital in pregnancy. Some women make healthier preferences as soon as pregnancy is verified by eating more nutritious foods, resulting in shedding a few pounds.
Unexplainable weight loss is one sure warning sign of a looming miscarriage, usually around the 13th week of pregnancy, accompanied by mild to severe backache, contractions, loss of tissue from the vagina, some bleeding, and a sudden decrease in signs of pregnancy.
3. Pregnancy symptoms
Some pregnancy symptoms such as aversion to certain smells, tastes, or textures of food plus fatigue may interfere with a woman’s eating habits early in pregnancy.
Coupled with constipation, heartburn, and indigestion, these can contribute to a woman eating too few calories daily.
4. Hyperemesis Gravidarum
According to research, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and electrolyte disturbance from this condition should be treated even in mild cases.
Some of its treatment options include rest, antacid, and dietary changes. In severe cases, women have stayed in hospital and received intravenous fluids and nutrients.
Tips to ramp up your weight gain during pregnancy
For most women, pregnancy weight gain comes easily, but for others, the problem isn’t gaining weight but losing it even in the absence of morning sickness.
Here’s how to get your pregnancy weight gain on track if your scale isn’t budging.
1. Choose nutrient-dense food
If your weight loss is associated with appetite loss, focus on high-quality calories in small packages filled with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Some of the nutrient-rich options include:
- Fatty fish like salmon
- Nut butter and nuts
- Lean meat or poultry
- Whole grain bread
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Brown rice
- Dried fruits
- Olive Oil
2. Add a caloric punch to your meals
Try sprinkling your food with an extra spoonful of calorie-dense olive oil, cream cheese, butter, sour milk (buttermilk), or a couple of scoops of powdered milk in your scrambled egg or hot cereal.
Adding protein supplements to your meals can help you gain weight, but overdoing it on protein can limit the baby’s growth.
3. Don’t turn on junk food
It might be tempting to fill up the caloric void with fried chicken and doughnuts, processed, sugary and greasy foods will help you add weight but not the much-needed nutrition during pregnancy.
4. Eat strategically
Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as they provide your baby with folic acid that helps form healthy cells and reduces the risk of birth defects like Spina Bifida.
It’s recommended that you start your meals with a big glass of water or a bowl of salad.
5. Eat more often
Don’t skip your meals even if you are not feeling well.
You can instead break down your meal such that the three large meals a day can be six bite-size snacks that you can consume every two hours or so.
You can also make yourself a thick smoothie and fortify it with oatmeal and other things.
6. Compensate for exercise
Exercise during pregnancy is an excellent way to add weight and make up for the sweat sessions. It’s important to eat a nutrient-dense snack around the time of your exercise, especially if it lasts longer than 45 minutes.
There are also some pregnancy-safe pre-workout supplements you can use to help give you that boost of energy to stay active.
What happens if you don’t gain enough weight during pregnancy?
Not gaining enough weight during your pregnancy will put your baby at a greater risk of being born small for their gestational age or born prematurely.
They might also suffer growth restriction in the uterus.
This might lead to the baby having trouble breastfeeding and being at greater risk of illnesses leading to poor developmental milestones.
What is considered too little weight gain during pregnancy?
By the second trimester, the least amount of weight you should gain during pregnancy depends on how much you weighed before the pregnancy and your body mass index.
If you are carrying twins, give or take, you need to gain roughly 50 percent more weight.
From personal experience, we know it’s easier said than done to stay on the healthy stuff recommended by doctors and to not focus on weight loss during pregnancy.
However, if a woman is concerned about how her weight will affect her pregnancy and the health of her child, then she can lower the risk of weight loss-related complications using diet and light-duty exercise.