A weight off your mind
Everything you need to know about weight gain in pregnancy
Weight gain is a normal and natural part of a healthy pregnancy. Learn how much weight you should gain
Weight gain: a natural part of pregnancy
Weight gain in pregnancy is healthy, natural and necessary. Aside from the additional weight of your baby and increased fluids, your body gradually lays down some fat stores1.
During your first and second
How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
Weight gain during pregnancy depends on your pre-pregnancy
Putting on too much weight during pregnancy can be unhealthy, but it's important not to diet and instead eat healthily.
The table below3 gives a general guide to healthy weight gain. To determine your BMI, use an online BMI calculator, or your midwife will be able to work it out for you.
|BMI||Approximate weight you should gain during pregnancy
|20 or less||Between 12.5 and 18kg (or 28-40lb)
|20-26||Between 11.5 and 16kg (or 25-35lb)
|26-30||Between 7 and 11.5kg (or 15-25lb)
|30+||7kg (15lbs) or less
A nutritious diet for healthy weight gain in pregnancy
Your diet supplies
If your gestational weight gain is above the recommended levels, your midwife may suggest making some changes so that you gain weight more steadily.
When it’s time to increase your calorie intake by 200 per day, be sure to choose foods that are nutritionally rich. Yoghurt, for example, provides bone-building calcium while a jacket potato is a good source of fibre and, as a carbohydrate, delivers a boost of energy.
Healthy 200-calorie snack ideas:
- A small pot of low-fat
yogurtwith seeds and berries
- A small serving of hummus with raw vegetable sticks
- A banana and oat smoothie made with 150ml of milk
- One smoked mackerel fillet, shredded and mixed with natural
yogurt, served with two oatcakes4
Weight loss during pregnancy
Being overweight before and during pregnancy can put you at greater risk of developing high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. It can also increase your likelihood of premature delivery and birth complications, plus breastfeeding problems, such as being unable to initiate or sustain it5.
However, once you become pregnant it’s not advisable to diet. This is because your developing baby is responsive to nutrient changes during the different stages of their gestational development, which can affect their own ability to utilise nutrients later in life, impacting on obesity in later life6.
Instead, focus on eating healthily, with a good balance across the food groups. A large study has shown that adjusting your diet to maintain a healthy
The gift of future health
Being underweight in pregnancy
If you’re underweight, your midwife will be able to advise you on the healthiest ways to gain the additional weight you need. You may need to be monitored closely to check that your baby is growing well. A healthy weight during pregnancy can reduce the risks of preterm birth or a low birth weight baby8.
Foods containing healthy fats are an excellent source of calories and nutrients. Avocados, nuts and seeds are ideal. Wholegrain varieties of bread and pasta deliver slow-release energy and a healthy serving of fibre9.
Eat little and often throughout the day for a sustained supply of nutrients to your baby.
1. NHS choices. How much weight will I put on during my pregnancy? [Online] 2015. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2311.aspx?CategoryID=54[Accessed October 2017]
2. NICE. Weight management before during and after pregnancy [Online] 2010. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph27/chapter/1-recommendations [Accessed October 2017]
3. Deans A. Your New Pregnancy Bible, The experts’ guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. 4th ed. London: Carroll & Brown Publishers Limited, 2013.
4. Tommy’s. 200 calorie pregnancy snacks [Online]. 2014. Available at: www.tommys.org/page.aspx?pid=916 [Accessed June 2014]
5. Hilson JA et al. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is associated with earlier termination of breast-feeding among white women. J Nutr 2006;136(1):140-146.
6. Armitage JA et al. Experimental models of developmental programming: consequences of exposure to an energy rich diet during development. J Physiol 2005;565(1):3-8.
7. Thangaratinam S et al. Effects of interventions in pregnancy on maternal weight and obstetric outcomes: meta-analysis of randomised evidence. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey 2012;67(10):603-604.
8. Han Z et al. Maternal underweight and the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight: a systematic review and meta-analyses. Int J Epidemiol 2011;40(1):65- 101.
9. British Nutrition Foundation. Dietary Fibre [Online]. 2012. Available at: www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients/dietary-fibre[Accessed July 2014]
Last reviewed: 29th July 2014
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.