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Weight Gain During Pregnancy2016-01-09T08:03:41+00:00

Weight gain during pregnancy

Quite often asked – what is normal in terms of weight gain during pregnancy? Most women who are within an average height and weight range at the start of their pregnancy can expect weight gain during pregnancy of about 10-15 kilograms over the full 40 weeks of gestation. It’s important to note that it is natural to put on weight, and as expectant mothers we should be enjoying healthy weight gain during pregnancy. It’s also important to try and avoid abdominal separation. So what is healthy weight gain?

The majority of pregnant women have a very small weight gain within their first trimester and some will even lose weight. Nausea or the more severe Hyperemesis combined with changes in the normal eating pattern, can mean a weight loss of up to a couple of kilograms.

Weight gain during pregnancy encompasses 3 areas, namely, fluid, fat and protein mass.   During the second and third trimesters, most women regain what they may have lost and gradually start to gain more.The majority of weight gain occurs in the last trimester with body fat being isolated around the inner thighs and hips in preparation for breast feeding. Weight gain doesn’t always reflect good nutrition so it important that nutritional quality of the diet is of critical importance.  We have broken down all the nutrients into separate articles for your convenience.

Depending on pre-conception weight or Body Mass Index (BMI) weight gain in mothers varies considerably. Weight gain for underweight mothers is recommended at 12.5 to 18kg, normal weight 11.5 to 16, overweight at approximately 7 to 11kg and obese at 6kg weight total.

Table 1: Recommended total weight gain in pregnant women, by pre-pregnancy BMI (kg/m2)

Weight-for-height category Recommended total gain (kg)
Low (BMI < 19.8)Normal (BMI 19.8–26.0)High BMI (BMI >26.0–29.0)Obese (BMI > 29.0) 12.5–18.011.5–16.07.0–11.06.0

You should aim to provide adequate healthy nutrition to baby and mother.

Healthy weight gain tips:

  • Avoid missing meals as this can put your body into a “starvation mode” which leads to issues with metabolism and low energy
  • Sustainable energy – slow releasing carbohydrates or low GI carbohydrates for consistent energy and weight control. (choose grainy breads and cereals, whole fruits and vegetables)
  • Try to think in terms of being satiated during meals and control your portions.
  • Increase lean protein – check out the article on “protein and pregnancy”
  • Variety is key to meet vitamin and mineral requirements, 3-4 serves of calcium, 2-3 serves of fruit, 5 or more vegetables
  • The old saying of pregnant women needing to eat for two has no scientific basis – you only need to increase your caloric intake by 10-15%

If you want to manage your weight gain and have a happy and healthy pregnancy there are health care professional recommended pregnancy exercise DVD’s available to keep you active and healthy.   Combine these with health snack alternatives and you will keep your pregnancy weight gain to normal levels.

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