Underweight and Pregnancy: Risks & Tips to Gain Weight

Underweight Pregnancy – Risks and Tips to Gain Weight

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sanjana Sainani (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Most women have no trouble putting on weight during pregnancy, however, some others have a problem putting it on. There may be several reasons as to why you are not gaining enough weight such as metabolism, morning sickness, body issues, or certain medical reasons. Just as being overweight during pregnancy can pose a risk, being underweight also has risks associated with it that you need to be aware of.

How Many Kilos Should You Gain During Pregnancy?

Being underweight and pregnant do not go well with each other. The minimum weight of a woman should be 45 kgs before conception to be able to carry a baby safely. Anything under is considered underweight. Those who find themselves in this category are generally advised to gain an average of 28 to 40 pounds or 12 to 18 kgs, though the exact weight specifications will differ from person to person based on their circumstances.

To find out if you fall within the normal weight range, your BMI (Body Mass Index) needs to be calculated by your doctor. This is where your body fat is measured based on your height and weight.

What Risks and Complications Does a Low Weight Pregnant Woman Face?

Underweight pregnancy risks can affect both you and your baby, so it should not be taken lightly. Here are some of the risks for both the mother and child:

1. Risks to the Mother

Here are some complications you are going to want to be aware of if you are underweight:

  • If you are underweight, you most likely lack essential nutrients like iron and foliate, causing the risk of miscarriage to increase.
  • Premature deliveries are common in underweight women, especially occurring before week 37 of pregnancy.
  • Underweight pregnancy problems may lead to you needing to opt for a caesarean-section delivery.
  • There is a chance you might develop anaemia or osteoporosis later in life as your body may consume nutrients from the system’s reserve to cover up the foetus’ needs
  • Your breastfeeding supply may decrease, making it more likely for you to take supplements to help with this problem.

2. Risks to the Baby

Being underweight could also lead to the following complications for your baby:

  • Your baby may have low birth weight because of poor nutrition during pregnancy.
  • If your baby is born underweight, it may lead to health issues such as hypothermia or low blood sugar in the future.
  • Lack of immunity could be another issue that your baby could develop making him vulnerable to infections.
  • Your baby might be at risk of suffering from diabetes or heart-related issues in the future.
  • There are some studies that point to increased infant mortality.
  • Increased risk of developing cerebral palsy, learning difficulties, sight and hearing problems due to low birth weight.

How to Ensure That the Mother is Receiving Adequate Nutrition

There are certain parameters that need to be taken into consideration to ensure that you and your baby are getting the required nutrition during pregnancy, some of which are as follows:

  • Make sure to maintain adequate folic acid levels so as to lessen the chances of developing neural tube defects.
  • Consult with your doctor about starting prenatal vitamins, either through food or by taking supplements.
  • Speak to a dietician so that you can get some expert advice on what diet plan is best for you to gain weight.
  • Look up some innovative recipes that can help you blend great taste with nutrition.
  • Drink plenty of water.

How To Gain Weight During Pregnancy When Underweight

Nothing is impossible, so if you think there is nothing you can do about your low weight, think again. There are many things that you can do to ensure you gain adequate weight during pregnancy. Here are some tips to help you deal with weight gain during pregnancy:

  • The key is to not skip breakfast as it is the most important meal of the day. Try including protein in your morning meal as it will help you gain weight.
  • Eat more than three times a day and make sure that all your meals are balanced and healthy. Try and include snacks such as nuts, fruits, yoghurt, or healthy cheese in your diet that are high in protein and iron.
  • Avoid junk food or anything that is processed. Treats like doughnuts, muffins, and others may help you put on weight, but offer little to no nutritional value. Since you are pregnant, you will want to have food that helps you gain weight as well as offers nutritional value.
  • Milk is rich in protein and calcium, daily intake of which can help increase weight.
  • If you are a fitness enthusiast, try and give it a miss at least when you are underweight and pregnant.
  • Eating food that is high in calories will help you gain weight. Eat healthy calories such as those that come from avocados, legumes, grains, pasta, peas, and beans.
  • Have your salads after the main meal so that you still put on weight, even if you get full fast.

How To Gain Weight During Pregnancy When Underweight

Being pregnant and underweight may put a few roadblocks in your pregnancy journey, but do not worry. If you consult your doctor about it and follow the advice given to you, you will be able to gain some weight in no time. Try the tips provided above as they can help you to put on weight in a healthy way.

Also Read: Overweight Pregnancy 

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