Weight Gain During Pregnancy

by Maxine
Posted August 9 2010 04:30pm
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You know that having a baby means adding on extra pounds – you need it for the developing baby and supporting the growth of your uterus, placenta, breasts and all the other changes to your body. Pregnancy is definitely not the time to reduce your diet, but how do you know how much weight gain is normal?

First, let’s look at where the weight that is gained goes on your body. And no, it’s not just in your tummy! By the end of pregnancy the weight gained is distributed among the following areas in your body:

  • Baby approximately 3-3.5 kg (7-8.5 lbs)
  • Placenta about 1-1.5 kg (2-2.5 lbs)
  • Uterus and amniotic fluid about 1.3 kg (3 lbs)
  • Breast tissue approximately .5-1.8 kg (1-4 lbs)
  • Increase in the volume of blood 1.8-2.2 kg (4-5 lbs)
  • Increase in circulating fluids approximately 1.3-2.2 kg (3-5 lbs)
  • Fat stores (hips, back, upper thighs and arms) approximately 1.8-2.7 kg (4-6 lbs) which will be used when breastfeeding

No wonder you’re tired by the end of pregnancy – you might be carrying an extra 9 to 13 kg (25-30 lbs) every day!  Some expectant moms may gain more and some will gain less than this, each pregnancy is different and it also depends on whether you were underweight or overweight when you became pregnant.

How much weight should you gain during pregnancy?  Health Canada has released guidelines for weight gain based on the latest scientific literature to minimize any risks to both Mom and baby. Have a look at the Health Canada BMI Calculator.

The guidelines are based on an expectant mom’s body mass index before she enters pregnancy:

  • For mothers with a BMI of 18.5 or less (underweight) the recommended gain is 12.5-18 kg (28-40 lbs)
  • For mothers with a BMI of 18.5-24.9 (normal weight) the recommended gain is 11.5-16 kg (25-35 lbs)
  • For mothers with a BMI of 25.0-29.9 (overweight) the recommended gain is 7-11.5 kg ( 15-25 lbs)
  • For women with BMI over 30 (obese) the recommended gain is 5-9 kg (11-20 lbs)

If you are expecting more than one baby the recommendation is:

  • Mothers of normal weight gain 17-25 kg (37-54 lbs)
  • Mothers who are overweight gain 14-23 kg (31-50 lbs)
  • Mother who are obese gain 11-19 kg (25-42 lbs) *

During the first three months weight gain is usually about 1-2 kg (2-4 lbs), during the second and third trimesters weight gain increases to usually .4 kg (1 lb) per week. Health Canada recommendations indicate the following rate of gaining:

  • Underweight women gain about .5 kg  (1lb) per week during the second and third trimesters
  • Mothers of normal weight gain about .4 kg (1lb)
  • Overweight mothers gain .3 kg (.6lbs)
  • Obese mothers gain .2 kg (.5 lbs


Moms who are underweight during pregnancy may be at greater risk for pre-term birth and a low birth weight baby or a baby that does not gain well. Moms who are overweight may be at risk during their pregnancy for having high blood pressure, developing diabetes during their pregnancy, having a baby that is 4 kg (8.5 lbs), needing a cesarean, having problems with postpartum bleeding, and retaining more of their weight after the pregnancy. 

Recent findings from Health Canada show that first-time mothers and young mothers are more likely to gain excess weight during pregnancy and may keep some of this weight even nine months after giving birth.  There is some evidence that children born to mothers who gained high or excessive weight during pregnancy may overweight by the time they turn five.

What can you do during pregnancy regarding weight?

  • Set a “weight gain” goal early in your pregnancy with your health care provider that is based on the Health Canada weight gain recommendations
  • Although you are eating for two or more -choose healthy high nutrient choices such as fruits and vegetable; meats, grains and dairy products. See more on Prenatal Nutrition.
  • Be physically active-whether it is walking, swimming, doing prenatal fitness or yoga-as long as your doctor says it is safe to do so. Learn more about Exercise During Pregnancy.
  • Seek out nutritional and physical activity counseling if you have had or are experiencing challenges with weight.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by avoiding substances such as alcohol, smoking, herbal products or street drugs. Find out about Smoking & Pregnancy.

Reference: Canadian Gestational Weight Gain Recommendations (2010)  Health Canada, www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/prenatal/qa-gest-ros-qr-eng.php


If you're pregnant or thinking about having a baby, check out www.welcometoparenting.com. These interactive, online prenatal and parenting classes will provide information on pregnancy, labour and delivery, your relationship and a community of expectant and new parents just like you! Watch the overview video!



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Becoming a Mother

by Maxine
Posted July 27 2010 01:23pm
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“Giving birth” defines motherhood in the biological sense, but research has shown that becoming a mother is more difficult than we think. Many people assume that mothering comes naturally to women—that they automatically feel comfortable as mothers.

Women today rarely have any way of gaining a real understanding of what to expect in the weeks and months just after birth. Mothering is a learned experience – and it takes time. Some new mothers feel a lot of pressure as they try to look and act as if they feel comfortable with their “new Mom” role, before they are truly ready.

Research is still being carried out in order to find out how new mothers feel about their new role during and after pregnancy. Below, you can see some of the results of several studies of new mothers.

There is a wide range of reactions to becoming a mother, and they change over time. In one study, new mothers were asked to answer the question: “Do you feel comfortable in your role as a mother?" The questions was asked at various times from pregnancy to the end of the first year after the birth of their first baby. The results showed that many mothers took quite some time to feel comfortable in their new role, as you can see in the table below.

Do you feel comfortable in your role as a Mother?

Since pregnancy 3%
Since the baby was two weeks old 33%
Since the baby was two months old 49%
Since the baby was four months old 64%
Since the baby was nine months old 85%
Since the baby was 12 months old 96%

If you are a new mom, don’t be surprised or feel un-motherly if you aren’t instantly “head-over-heels” about this new role during pregnancy or the first few months after your baby is born. As you can see from the table above, many new mothers needed a lot of time to adjust. As their babies grew and the moms became more familiar with being called “a mother,” more mothers began to feel comfortable in their new role. But clearly a few moms were still working on achieving a comfort level in their role when their babies turned one year old.

But feeling comfortable in their role is not exactly the same as feeling competent. Feeling comfortable means you are OK with labeling yourself as a mother and with being called a mother by others. Feeling competent means you feel you know how to respond to your baby’s needs. Competency is much more difficult to grasp.

Gradually over the first weeks and months, mothers begin to know their babies and know how to respond to their needs – which constantly change, by the way. All of a sudden, what worked last week doesn’t work anymore. For example, your baby starts teething or goes to a daycare or stays up too late two nights in a row. Suddenly, all the things that worked before aren’t working any more, and you feel horribly incompetent. But you keep trying to learn, and after a few challenging days or weeks, you arrive at the new right combination of things that work. And you reach a new plateau of competency. Just remember – almost every parent goes through periods of feeling incompetent as part of being a parent.

In your new mothering role, you will need to come to terms with a number of challenges that parenthood brings. The following list includes some of the most common ones that new mothers face as they try to become comfortable and competent in their new role.

Not having or finding any personal time: This was the most common challenge for new mothers in most surveys. Mothers found they had little time to eat meals, bathe and apply makeup or to talk with their husbands. Although the hectic pace decreases over the first year of the baby's life, for many women, this remains a major challenge of motherhood.

Lack of knowledge and preparation on how to deal with typical baby behaviours: When mothers don’t know about normal yet challenging infant behaviours, this can cause them to feel incompetent. Mothers dislike feeling unprepared, and frequently complain about it. This information can help prepare moms and dads for not just the typical things that come along, but some of the not-so-typical ones, too.

Lack of sleep and night-time care of the baby: Something called "super-ordinate fatigue" rules the three or four weeks following delivery. For many new moms this develops into ongoing tiredness, which interferes with their efforts to become a successful mother. Fortunately, there are a few things a couple can do to reduce the lack of sleep due to infants and toddlers who have a hard time sleeping through the night. And feelings of comfort and competency increase as the mother gets more sleep – particularly over the first 4 months. However, tiredness and night-time care remain a key challenge for many mothers throughout the preschool years and beyond.

All-encompassing demand: Throughout the first year of their baby’s life, many mothers feel "a loss of freedom," like they "always have to be there." This makes it hard for a lot of them to feel comfortable in their new roles. Motherhood is often so demanding, it can wear away at a mother’s good intentions.

So how can mothers overcome these challenges? As new moms, coping with the challenges of your role can be very discouraging at times, but you can learn to overcome them with support and the right assistance. Researchers have uncovered the following factors that help mothers as they try to learn their new role.

Previous experience: Some new mothers know things from prior experience with babies, like babysitting, or coming from a large family where they helped to care for their own siblings. If you have had these experiences, you will draw on them as you learn to know your own baby.

Knowledge: Some new mothers have learned about child development and parenting strategies through books or courses, and may have even had a chance to practice.

Baby's behaviour: Things become more manageable once new mothers learn about the parts of a baby’s behaviour that are inherited (called “temperament”) and the parts of each developmental stage that are easy or difficult.

Social support: New mothers can really benefit from the support of their husbands, parents, friends, experienced mothers and other first time mothers. Fortunately searching for good supportive people seems to come naturally. Most first-time mothers are on the look-out for those people they can count on to give them support.


Above points reference R.T. Mercer (1985) The process of maternal role attainment of the first year. Nursing Research

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Second-Hand Smoke

by Guest
Posted July 7 2010 11:57am
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Second-hand smoke is responsible for an incredible 400,000 illnesses in children each year.

Years ago, the dangers of smoking were not well known. Many people smoked and it was looked upon as socially acceptable. Moviegoers swooned over images of their favourite movie stars smoking cigarettes. At that time, smoking was also permitted in most public places. 

Today, things are very different. Information about the dangers of smoking is more readily available in the media. As a result, people are aware of smoking-related risks; this includes the dangers of second-hand smoke.

In Canada, the deaths of approximately 1,000 non-smokers are attributed to smoke-related illness each year. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals – 50 of which have been found to cause cancer. (Saskatchewan Institute on Prevention of Handicaps- Smoking and ETS {environmental tobacco smoke})

Effects of Second-Hand Smoke on Children:

In Canada, 900,000 (2001 stats Canadian Health Network) children under 12 years of age are exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes. This is significant because 67% of the smoke from one cigarette enters the surrounding environment because it is not inhaled. 

Second-hand smoke is responsible for an incredible 400,000 illnesses in children each year (Canadian Health Network website). Illness and health-related conditions such as asthma, allergies, croup, ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) are all associated with second-hand smoke.

Children are more at risk to second-hand smoke because they breather more air relative to their body weight; they breathe faster than adults; their immune systems are less developed; their lungs are still growing and developing and they may not be able to remove themselves from the area.

Babies exposed to second-hand smoke are twice as likely to die of SIDS (Saskatchewan Health-Helping Your Family Clear the Air).

What You Can Do:

Making your home smoke free, removing your child from exposure to second-hand smoke and not allowing people to smoke in a vehicle with your child will reduce the impact of second-hand smoke. Second hand smoke in a car can be 27 times more concentrated than in a home.  

Provinces such as New Brunswick, PEI and Ontario have Smoke-Free acts that prohibits smoking in a vehicle with children; offenses can result in a fine. The Yukon also has a Smoke-Free act that applies to vehicles.

Whether or not you are a smoker, it's important to know all the facts about second-hand smoke. Understanding the true facts about second-hand smoke will protect your children and the rest of your family from its hazards.


Saskatchewan Institute on Prevention of Handicaps - Smoking and ETS (environmental tobacco smoke)

Canadian Health Network - Children especially vulnerable to the effects of second hand smoke.

Saskatchewan Health - Helping Your Family Clear the Air


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How Should I Deal With Unwanted Advice and Interference?

by Guest
Posted August 25 2010 11:31am
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When you're a new parent, chances are you will welcome the support of relatives and friends. But, in some cases, there may be people in your life who don't know when to stop, or they have opinions you just don't agree with. Too much advice, or advice you can't accept, can be very frustrating, annoying and even undermining. If this is happening, it's up to you to decide when someone crosses the line.

Understand that, in most cases, the advice-giver is trying to help. Thank her for her advice, but be firm that it's your right and responsibility to deal with your baby, as you think best. You could talk to her about your family's values in gentle matter-of-fact words.

When the advice is something that doesn't really matter to you, but the person giving it is important in your life or the life of your child, you can offer to "think about it." This will help strengthen your relationship with the advice-giver and keep the lines of communication open. Remember, there will be times when you may be glad to have his advice and goodwill.

Most importantly, if the advice is something you can not follow, try not to let the situation get too emotionally heated. Stay calm and gently firm in your response.

You may not feel sure of yourself at every moment - none of us do - but you are the expert on your child. Find other resources, like books, magazine articles and other parents to back you up and help build your confidence. A great thing for you and your partner to do is read about your child's Ages and Stages on this website, or go to a parenting class. Finding out what children are doing developmentally, and what their needs are will make parenting decisions easier. It's like getting a job description for your child – whether he's 6-weeks old or 16-years old - it's always a good idea.

If the advice-giver refuses to back off and there are strains or disruptions in your relationship with him, it's probably wise to get some help. Consult your physician for referrals to appropriate family services in your area.


If you're pregnant or thinking about having a baby, check out www.welcometoparenting.com. These interactive, online prenatal and parenting classes will provide information on pregnancy, labour and delivery, your relationship and a community of expectant and new parents just like you! Watch the overview video!



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