Gaining weight is an inevitable part of growing a baby but that doesn’t make it any less strange when your body starts to stretch and change. No matter how happy you are to be pregnant it can still feel very confronting when your go-to jeans no longer fit or your favourite bra starts squeezing you to a pulp. And worries about your size can be made so much worse when you’re asked to be weighed at medical appointments.
But do you have to be weighed and can you decline? Here’s what you need to know…
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Does weight matter during pregnancy?
Weight can play an crucial role in your overall health during pregnancy and the health of your baby. Monitoring weight during pregnancy can help midwives identify if there are any underlying concerns they need to address. It also helps to ensure that your pregnancy is as healthy as possible.
What can my weight during pregnancy indicate?
Your weight during pregnancy provides insights into the growth and development of the baby. Normal weight gain, for example, is generally associated with healthy growth of the baby. Deviations from the expected weight gain pattern may indicate potential problems with the baby’s development or health.
Monitoring your weight can also help diagnose any potential complications with your health, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia. Sudden or excessive weight gain, inadequate weight gain, or unexpected weight loss can be signs of potential health concerns that may require further investigation or management.
Keep in mind that weight is just one aspect of your overall health though. Other factors such as nutrition, lifestyle, exercise and previous medical history also play a really vital role in yours and your baby’s health during pregnancy.
How is weight monitored during pregnancy?
The UK NHS guidelines recommend that women should be weighed during pregnancy as part of routine antenatal care. The guidelines suggest that your weight should be monitored at the beginning of pregnancy and throughout. The process will vary between different hospitals but it might look a bit like this:
- Booking appointment: At the first antenatal appointment, known as the booking appointment, your healthcare provider will measure your height and weight. This initial measurement establishes your baseline weight.
- Regular antenatal visits: Throughout your pregnancy, you will have regular antenatal check-ups with your midwife. At each appointment, your weight may be measured and recorded in your maternity notes.
- Personalised weight gain targets: Depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, your midwife may provide you with personalised weight targets. These targets will guide you towards achieving a healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
- Discussion and guidance: It is normal for your midwife to offer guidance on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and provide nutritional advice during antenatal appointments. They can address any concerns you may have and help you make informed choices regarding your weight and overall well-being.
What is a normal amount of weight gain during pregnancy?
The amount of weight gain considered normal during pregnancy can vary significantly from person to person. It depends on several factors, including pre-pregnancy weight, individual body composition and overall health.
According to the NHS, pregnant women typically tend to gain between 10kg and 12.5kg (22lb to 28lb). The majority of pregnancy weight is usually gained after the 20th week of pregnancy. However, this is just an average and by no means a target or limit. The extra weight is mostly due to the growth of the baby but the body also stores fat in preparation for breastfeeding.
Pregnancy is not the time to go on a diet or to start excessively exercising. Instead, think of it as a time to focus on eating nutritious, nourishing food and moving your body in a way that feels good.
What is the risk of gaining too much weight?
Gaining an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy can cause problems for you and your baby. This can include increasing your risk of medical problems during pregnancy as well as causing challenges during delivery.
The two main health problems related to weight gain are gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Gestational diabetes is caused by too much glucose (sugar) in your blood and can result in having a larger baby. Pre-eclampsia relates to high blood pressure and can cause future complications for mum and baby’s health.
What is the risk of losing too much weight?
Not gaining enough weight or losing weight during pregnancy can be an indicator of an underlying medical concern. Some complications of losing an excessive amount of weight include a premature birth, baby having a small birth weight or a sign that your body isn’t storing enough fat.
Women who experience severe vomiting during pregnancy are also at risk of losing weight and should be monitored closely to ensure that they are getting enough fluids and nutrition.
Do I have to be weighed during pregnancy?
You don’t have to be weighed during pregnancy, however when making this decision you should also consider the risks of not being weighed. Your weight can help your midwife better assess and monitor your health during pregnancy as well as provide helpful information about your baby’s development.
Sarah, a mum-of-two, recently shared that she was worried about being weighed because she hadn’t stepped on the scales for years and knew that if she did she would fixate on the number. Sarah said she spoke to her midwife about her concerns and they agreed that Sarah would be weighed when needed but her midwife didn’t share the number on the scales with Sarah.
Sarah’s story is a good example of find a solution with her midwife which meant mum and baby were monitored safely during the pregnancy but Sarah’s concerns were also heard and respected. Remember, it’s your right to receive care in a way that’s comfortable for you.
Can I refuse to be weighed during pregnancy?
Yes, absolutely. You have the right to refuse any medical procedure or intervention, including being weighed during pregnancy. However, it’s important to have an open and honest discussion with your midwife about your concerns or reasons for refusing the weight measurement. They can provide you with information about why weight monitoring is recommended and address any specific concerns you may have.
While weight monitoring during pregnancy is a common practice, it’s ultimately up to you to make an informed decision that aligns with your preferences and values. Your midwife can work with you to find alternative ways to assess your health and the well-being of your baby if you choose not to be weighed.
How can I stay active during pregnancy?
Being healthy and active during pregnancy will have all sorts of benefits for you and your baby. The benefits include improving your chances of having a speedier labour, recovering more quickly after giving birth and ensuring the best start to life for your baby.
Here are some easy ways for staying active during pregnancy:
- Choose low-impact exercises: Opt for activities that are gentle on your joints and minimise the risk of injury. Examples include walking, swimming, stationary cycling, prenatal yoga, and low-impact aerobics.
- Listen to your body: Pay attention to your body’s cues and adjust your activities accordingly. If you feel discomfort, pain, or excessive fatigue, be sure to slow down, take breaks, or modify the intensity of your exercise.
- Maintain good posture: Focus on maintaining proper posture during exercise to prevent strain on your joints and muscles. Avoid activities that involve lying flat on your back, especially after the first trimester, as it can put pressure on the vena cava vein.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated.
- Wear comfortable clothing: Choose loose-fitting, breathable clothing and supportive footwear to ensure comfort and ease of movement.
- Warm-up and cool down: Prioritise warm-up exercises to prepare your body for activity and include cool-down exercises to gradually bring your heart rate down.
- Pelvic floor exercises: Engage in pelvic floor exercises, commonly known as Kegels, to strengthen the muscles supporting the bladder, uterus, and bowels. These exercises can help with bladder control and postpartum recovery.
- Modify as pregnancy progresses: As your pregnancy progresses, you may need to modify your activities to accommodate your changing body. Avoid exercises that involve jumping, sudden changes in direction, or risk of falls.
- Listen to your comfort level: Ultimately, choose activities that you enjoy and that feel comfortable for you. If you can, try and attend classes that are pregnancy-specific to ensure you are not over-exerting yourself. Always listen to your body, don’t push yourself and prioritise safety.
And always remember that pregnancy is not the time for diets, intense exercise regimes or taking up new sports. Discuss any concerns about weight, lifestyle or exercise with your midwife and listen to their guidance.
Birthbabe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. You should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options.