Weight gain is something that pregnant women worry about a lot. Some women worry that their bump is too small and they are not putting on enough weight and some women worry (generally for body image reasons) that they are putting on too much weight.
Over your pregnancy, you will need to put on weight and this is not just ‘fat’. You are growing a baby and in order to do this your uterus will grow, the placenta will grow, your baby will produce amniotic fluid, you will make more blood and of course there is the weight of the baby. All these healthy and vital aspects of pregnancy will cause you to put on weight.
However, for the first six months of pregnancy you do not need to eat any more calories than usual and in the last three months, you only need to eat an extra 200 calories a day which is just equivalent to small healthy snack. It is especially important to avoid empty calories such a sugary fizzy drinks and lots of cakes and biscuits and also carry on with 30 minutes of light exercise a day unless your doctor has told you not to exercise for a specific reason.
There are no official UK guidelines regarding weight gain during pregnancy, however, dietitians and doctors tend to adopt the American guidelines which say that generally, every woman should gain around 12-16 kilogrammes, or 25-35 pounds during their entire pregnancy if they are carrying one baby. You should gain more if you were underweight when you became pregnant and more if you are carrying twins.
Up to 1 in 5 British women are obese when they become pregnant. Ideally, if you are overweight (with a BMI over 30) it is recommended that you lose weight before getting pregnant as being at a healthy weight would reduce your risk for various pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and stillbirth. There is also evidence that your baby may be at increased risk of later health problems during their life (these are called intergenerational health problems).
If you do feel like you’re not gaining enough, or you’re gaining too rapidly, it’s important to talk to your health visitor or GP to assess why this may be the case.