For most women once a pregnancy is confirmed there is no holding you back from the extra cupcake, ice cream cone or second (or third!) helping of dinner. Interestingly, during pregnancy it not just how much weight you gain but WHEN you gain it that matters. Smack dab in the middle of your pregnancy is the best time to put on weight. Who knew?!
Recently, an article Second trimester may be key for regulating weight gain during pregnancy, covers just that, the importance of calories and nutrients in the 2nd trimester. Too little weight or too much weight gained in the second trimester leads to a greater than 70% chance of being underweight or overweight. Both can lead to trouble for the mother and child. Keep reading to find out why the second trimester is the perfect balance of nutrients and weight gain.
First Trimester In the first trimester of pregnancy (weeks 1-12) “the devil is in the details”, so to speak. The amount of teeny, tiny embryonic development is amazing. In the first few weeks of pregnancy, sometimes before you even realize you’re pregnant, crucial parts of the baby are already formed. The brain, spinal cord and nervous system, which guide you through your whole life, are being made and are fully formed by weeks 6-8. Blood flows through your baby’s heart, vital organs like the liver and kidneys are being made and arms, legs and even fingernails are arriving. Nutrients are crucial during this time period. Your pregnancy vitamin, packed with vitamins and minerals, is so important because of all the organ formation. An extra 300 calories a day isn’t quite necessary during the first trimester because of how small the fetus is. Gaining 2-5 pounds now is perfectly acceptable. It’s more the quality of food versus the quantity. Not so much in the second trimester!
Second Trimester In the second trimester (weeks 13-27) the whole game changes! Your baby is fully functioning and packing on the pounds (ok, really its ounces!) on a day to day basis! You can gain 3-4 pounds a month and all of it is used for the rapidly growing baby. Your heart pumps harder to make blood for the two of you, increasing your entire blood volume, your breasts are filling becoming ready to breastfeed, and your baby is tripling his or her size! At week 12 the baby is maybe a third of an ounce and 2 ½ inches long and by week 27 she’s tripled her size, almost 2 whole pounds and 9 inches! All of the organs carefully made in the first trimester are now being fine-tuned and used. Lungs are maturing, the auditory system (his hearing!) is functioning, little things like the taste buds and finger prints are forming.
Most importantly fat is beginning to accumulate under the baby’s skin, which will be used for energy and to keep them warm when they’re born. Now is the time to really pay attention to your calories, the quantity and quality. Focus on an extra 300 calorie a day filing up on whole grains, lean proteins, low fat dairy and omega -3 fatty acids from walnuts, salmon and fish oils to continue to promote development. In the article, Second trimester may be key for regulating weight gain during pregnancy, it was noted that women who were underweight and didn’t gain sufficient weight in the second trimester had a greater percentage of not gaining enough weight total, through the whole pregnancy. Too little weight gained leads to baby’s that are born too small and with potential defects and trouble with growth later in life.
Third Trimester In the third trimester (weeks 28-40, 41 or 42!) you AND the baby will continue to grow and grow! The baby can pack on up to ½ pound every week and it uses every ounce you give him. Inside your womb the little guy (or girl) is practicing breathing, blinking, moving his arms and legs, and even responding to your voice! The biggest difficulty in weight gain during the third trimester is this; your baby is growing so rapidly, it may be hard to keep up with the baby’s demands. You may not be able to take in enough calories and you begin to dip into your pregnancy stores. You may notice this in the final weeks when instead of gaining weight you plateau or even lose a few pounds. Not to worry. This is why weight gain the second trimester is vital for growth and success. All that extra weigh in the second trimester will be used.
If you’ve overdone it the first trimester or have been holding yourself back well into the second trimester, don’t worry. Pick yourself up, head to the doctor to figure how much you need to gain or how to level off and enjoy the ride of your growing baby. It’s over too quickly.