Healthy weight gain in pregnancy 1 June 2013 It is important during pregnancy that a woman eats well and takes care of her health. This will ensure the baby has the best chance of a healthy life. A woman’s body goes through many changes during pregnancy and different body shapes will be affected by pregnancy in different ways. There are useful guidelines that give pregnant women an idea of how much weight they can expect to gain during this time. About one third of women start their pregnancy overweight and this can cause problems for both the mother and the baby. If you can, plan for your pregnancy. It is best to start pregnancy within the healthy weight range, which is a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5 â€“ 24.9. Being either underweight or overweight can reduce your chances of becoming pregnant, so think about getting your body into shape if you are planning to have children. How much weight should I gain? The recommended amount of weight gain in pregnancy depends on your BMI before becoming pregnant. Generally, you should aim for about 11.5 â€“ 16kgs. If your your pre-pregnancy BMI is less than 18.5kg/mÂ² your recommended weight gain is 12.5 to 18kg If your pre-pregnancy BMI is 18.5 to 24.9kg/mÂ² your recommended weight gain is 11.5 to 16kg If your pre-pregnancy BMI is 25 to 29.9kg/mÂ² your recommended weight gain is 7 to 11.5kg If your pre-pregnancy BMI is above 30kg/mÂ² your recommended weight gain is 5 to 9kg Trimester 1 (up to 3 months) All women can expect to gain 1-2kg. Trimester 2 and 3 (3-9months) The rate of weight gain is dependent on your BMI before becoming pregnant: BMI BMI 18.5 to 24.9kg/m: 400g per week BMI above 25kg/m: less than 300g per week Aim to monitor your weight gain throughout your pregnancy by weighing yourself every couple of weeks. Weight gain for women having twins or triplets is 11-24kg depending on your BMI before becoming pregnant. What if I don’t gain enough weight? If your weight gain in pregnancy is really low, your baby may not grow well. Pregnancy is not a time to go on a diet or restrict the food you eat; however, it is common for women to gain only a very small amount of weight or even lose weight in the first trimester if they have morning sickness. Weight gain usually increases for the rest of the pregnancy when eating returns to normal. Tips for gaining weight Eat small meals often, especially if you are feeling nauseous because being hungry can actually make you feel worse. Drinking fluids such as fruit smoothies, Sustagen, Milo and milkshakes may be easier Cheese, nuts, dried fruit, toast, muesli bars, yoghurt and crackers are good snacks. What if I’m gaining weight too quickly? Carrying too much weight in pregnancy can cause problems such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia (a condition of pregnancy which includes high blood pressure and protein in the urine). If you already have diabetes before becoming pregnant, extra weight gain can make it difficult to manage your blood glucose levels. It can also make it difficult for your doctor to hear your baby’s heartbeat. Babies born to overweight women are also more likely to be large at birth and are at risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease later in life. Tips for slowing down your weight gain Do some exercise every day, as tolerated by your body (see Exercise and Pregnancy article ) Limit take-away foods and eating out to no more than once per week Avoid sweet drinks like soft drink, cordial and juice Limit the amount of oil you use in your cooking; try steaming, boiling and grilling as much as possible Limit sweet foods such as sweetened breakfast cereals, cakes, pastries, lollies and chocolate. Speak to your doctor or a dietitian if you are concerned about your weight. Returning to a healthy weight after birth We often see celebrities lose weight very quickly after giving birth; however, most of us don’t have personal trainers and private chefs to help us. In reality, it can take up to 6 months to return to your pre-pregnancy body weight. Aim to reduce your weight to within your healthy weight range (BMI = 18.5-24.9kg/m2), or as close to this as possible. For some women, breastfeeding can help with weight loss but others find that breastfeeding makes no difference to their weight. If you develop gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, returning to a healthy weight will help to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is especially important to return to a healthy weight if you are planning on having more children to prevent complications in future pregnancies. The Life! program can help you return to a health weight and teach you to adopt healthy behaviours and a more active lifestyle to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.