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Weight gain during pregnancy

Advice on weight gain during pregnancy with emphasis on the importance of diet and exercise in keeping your body healthy for your baby.
Weight gain during pregnancy is not only inevitable, it's also necessary. While the phrase 'eating for two' shouldn't be taken literally (you only need approximately 200 extra calories a day), while you are pregnant you are the soul provider of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your baby needs to grow. Throughout the duration of your pregnancy your body naturally puts the needs of your baby before its own. For this reason, it is essential that you eat a nutritious, well balanced diet not only to ensure that your baby develops healthily, but also to ensure that your body is nourished enough to carry, deliver and care for a new baby.

There was a time when a lot of emphasis was placed on maternal weight gain during pregnancy. This was mainly because midwives used this as an indication of baby's growth and development. However, since the introduction of more sophisticated and accurate measures such as ultrasound, this practice has tailed off. Now, while an eye is kept on weight increase, it is no longer carefully monitored, unless a specific health problem dictates otherwise.

When you attend your first antenatal appointment, the midwife is likely to measure your height and weight and use this to calculate your BMI (body mass index). This figure will help the midwife to establish whether your pre-pregnancy weight was healthy for your size and enable her to make recommendations relating to your ideal weight gain over the course of your pregnancy.

Recommended weight gain

There are four major BMI categories in which you are likely to fall:

  • Underweight - BMI less than 18.5 - If you are classed as being underweight your health care provider is likely to recommend that you gain between 28 and 40lbs during your pregnancy. Even if you have been particularly conscious about your figure prior to pregnancy it is important to put this weight on as it will help your baby to grow healthily and provide you with the energy stores you need to delivery and feed a new baby. Research has suggested that women who do not follow a healthy pregnancy diet and fail to put on sufficient weight are more likely to deliver smaller babies who require more medical attention. If you are finding it difficult to put on weight then you should discuss this with your health care provider.
  • Normal - BMI 18.5 - 25 - If your pre (or early) pregnancy weight is classed as 'normal' this means that your weight is in the ideal range for your height and you should aim to gain between 25 and 35lbs during the course of your pregnancy. You should aim to gain approximately 5lbs in the first trimester and then about 1lb per week for the rest of your pregnancy. It is important to aim for a steady weight increase as this will ensure your baby receives the spread of nutrients he or she needs. If you notice any sudden increases or decreases in your weight then you should notify your health care provider as this could be a sign of complications. Many women find it helpful to keep a weight diary throughout their pregnancy so that they can monitor both their own and their baby's progress. Weigh yourself on the same day each week - mornings tend to be best - and remember to account for small fluctuations due to water retention.
  • Overweight - BMI 25 - 30 - If you are classed as being overweight you will need to put on less weight during pregnancy as you are already likely to have sufficient energy stores to help ensure your baby has all the nutrients needed. For this reason you are likely to gain between 15 and 25lbs during pregnancy. If you were trying to lose weight before you fell pregnant any strict diets should be abandoned, pregnancy is not the time for calorie counting. Instead you should focus on a healthy diet and plenty of gentle exercise to help control weight gain - talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
  • Obese - BMI 30+ - If you are classed as obese with a BMI of 30 or more you should expect to gain less than 15lbs during pregnancy as you already have the maternal energy reserves to help your baby develop. If you had a poor diet before you became pregnant you should focus on eating healthily and taking part in gentle exercise such as walking or yoga. This will also help reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure or complications with delivery. If you are concerned about your weight or your diet your doctor will be able to advise you.

The above advice only applies to those carrying single babies, for those expecting twins or multiples you should expect to put on more weight simply because you have double the baby to nourish and carry.

While you should aim to maintain a healthy weight gain for your size throughout pregnancy, your focus should be on what you eat rather than how much. Current recommendations suggest that you only need between 200 - 300 extra calories a day which roughly equates to a banana and a pot of yogurt. While pregnancy may seem the perfect time to 'let yourself go' and make the most of eating whatever you fancy, do remember that it is much better for your baby if you stick to a balanced meal plan based on 3 nutritious meals and regular healthy snacks. This will also help to keep your blood sugar levels steady, giving you more energy too.

You should ensure that you eat plenty of varied fruit and vegetables, lean protein and wholegrain carbohydrates and drink plenty of water. Remember it is ok to treat yourself too - but just try and have 1 donut rather than the whole box - your thighs will thank you for it once your baby arrives!

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I am 16 weeks pregnant . My last appointment with my doctor was on sept.2,2012. At that time I was 15 weeks pregnant and my weight was 93.3lbs , after a month my weight is the same 93lbs . I want to know that is it necessary to gain weight every week?
by payo 20th Jun 2013, 3:30pm
I am 16 week pregnant . My last appointment with doctor was 2 weeks earliar. At that time I was 14 week pregnant and my weight was 53 , now after 2 weeks my weight is same 53 . I want to know that is it necessary to gain weight every week .
by r3a3man 4th Oct 2010, 11:17am
hi im 14 weeks pregnant with my third child i am very concerned with the amount of weight i have gained as i have not been eating anymore than usual if not healthier, i have gained a stone already and it is realy getting me down my stomach is huge is anyone else like this?
by donnadl 29th Sep 2010, 4:13pm
im 37 weeks pregnant and have only put on 7lbs does this mean i have a small baby ,?
by emmie1985 18th Aug 2010, 9:26am
the hospital thinks i'm 27 weeks pregnant but i'm only just starting to show could it be because i'm skinny, i'm expecting my first baby.
by lauphilps 16th Aug 2010, 5:12pm
hey all acording to my doctor i am 5 weeks pregnant but have put on 1 and a hlf stone and already have a baby bump do you think that i am further on than 5 weeks
by xcolex 12th Aug 2010, 10:48am
hi all am 14 weeks pregnant with my first baby and i cant stop eatting. it has been like this since the first day i found out i was pregnant. i have put on about 2 stone already its getting me really down. people have told me that if u put on alot of weight you are having a girl is this true?
by katparkerlou 21st May 2010, 4:09pm
I am 14 weeks pregnant with my 1st baby and have already put on 2 stone and my bump has been showing since about the 10th week. I am very scared about how much weight i am going to have put on by the time i have my baby. I am going to try and breastfeed which will hopefully help me lose a bit of the weight. I eat quite healthily but have mad cravings for chocolate. I am trying to eat quite sensibly, and doing alot of walking. I just hope i dont put on too much weight.
by chelsieandderek 14th May 2010, 4:01pm
i have always been thin - athletic build and had problems gaining weight. i weighed 7st 2lbs at my booking in visit and now at 35wks i weigh 8st 9lbs. im not sure if this is a good weight gain or not? dont know how to work out kilos & stones. anyone help me???
by collette30 14th May 2010, 3:50pm
hi i am 35 week of pregnant and my baby growing week is 33.. tell me is he weak? my doctor told me that ur baby growing is weak now plz tell me what to do for increase his weight.. Thanks
by nandn 14th May 2010, 3:36pm
HI - I'm 7 weeks pregnant with my first baby. Already my clothes are too tight for me particularly waist and my massive boobs are even bigger, so that I now have '4 boobs' when wearing a bra! I'm a size 20 and quite scared of putting on even more weight than I have. I was about to start dieting when I discovered I was pregnant and now I'm not sure what to do. I think that if I eat a lot more healthily than I have done in years the weight gain will be less than I expect but I need the energy to be bothered to cook.
by sheshe2010 11th Jan 2010, 3:14pm
hiya im 7 weeks pregnant with my second baby and as i was only 20 when i had my 1st i was bothered about how much weight i put that im alittle older and have suffered 2 miscarriages this year i want 2 do everything right as we want this baby so much so i was just wondering is it correct that you are meant to put a pound on for every week u are pregnant so by the end 40lbs?
by MandyG 30th Nov 2009, 10:56am
Hi, I'm 21 wks pregnant with my first child and thought I would be the type to put loads of weight on, but iv actually lose 3lbs since I got pregnant, Iv gone off all foods, had terrible morning sickness flu and now a sickness bug, I was worried that my baby wudnt grow but the midwife says not to worry she's a very good size baby
by anje86 23rd Nov 2009, 10:45am
amysmith i am 37 weeks pregnant and i still haven't put any weight on, this is my second baby and on the first i put very little weight on and that was in the last month. every pregnancy is different, and all i do is mention every time i see my midwife or consultant then they can decide whether it is worth worring over!
by perryaddict 10th Aug 2009, 9:29am
i am 19wks pregnant with my third and i am getting worried as i have not put any weight on at all i am still the same weight as when i visited the midwife for the first time, but my bump is huge it really sticks out. i am eating everything i did when i wasn't pregnant and i always put on weight before. my cravings are chinese food, chocolate and the crisp version of onion rings i dont stop eating any of these but it doesnt seem to make a difference am i doing something wrong
by amysmith47 6th Aug 2009, 10:30am
i am 8 weeks pregnant but haven't really gained any weight, i have always been skinny so i can't wait to see how big i am going to get
by presh 3rd Jul 2009, 9:11am
im 31 weeks pregnant with my second child, i put on over 4 stone with my first daughter and lost the weight really easily. ive put on around 2 stone so far and im really not worrying as gaining weight is all part of the process...don't worry about what u'll all come off eventually but try to eat sensibly. a little bit of what u fancy does us all good at times. x
by fergie26 15th Jun 2009, 9:34am
i am 16 weeks pregnant with my fourth child, i am really worried about putting loads of weight on and not being able to loose it, especially when a close friend of mine is only a week behind me and is stick thin still whereas i cant get into any of my clothes and have ballooned, i have gained 8 Ib but am constantly eating and eating whaever i can get my hands on
by kas14 28th May 2009, 9:21am
im 20weeks and 1 day pregnant with my 1st baby. i eat well and mostly healthily especially since i found out i was pregnant. although this is good i seem to be losing weight, even the midwife has confirmed thsi weight loss. i was trying to lose weight before geting pregnant but wanted to gain it for the baby. nothing i seem to do help me gain weight. i have a very neat little bump, all my weight seems to have gone to the bump. is this normal?
by debsd81 18th May 2009, 9:40am
Hiya im 33 weeks pregnant with my second child. On my 1st pregnancy I gained about 3 stone and found it very hard to lose the weight afterwards. This pregnancy I have gained 6lbs and I have a neat bump thats very active lol. It doesnt matter how much weight you gain during your pregnancy just remember eat healthily and exercise by walking 20mins a day. I am a fitness instructor and havent really eaten much more until now so I make sure its either a yogurt or banana something good.
by SarahThompson 28th Apr 2009, 10:17am
ninawena, its totally normal at times honey dont worry youself too much, i put on over a stone with each child i had and maternity clothes fit awful (doesnt help im soooo short!) i get cross all the time with people cus they can be insensative without meaning to be. Ive been trying to stick to the slimming world plan because its very safe to do as its a healthy eating plan more than a diet but the sweet stuff keeps calling. Make sure u have ur bloods done regular tho just to make sure its not prengancy diabetes or and thyroid problems xxxxx
by loadsakids 17th Apr 2009, 9:24am
I'm 8 weeks pregnant and am eating for England! But I'm getting married in August and I ordered my dress in January so I don't really want to really balloon- can someone please help! x
by Princess1969 17th Apr 2009, 9:24am
I am 20 weeks and 2 days. i have eaten for brittain, everything in site! all sweet food and I dont even bother with chocolate normally. I have put on 1 and a half stone so far but cant stop. nothing fits, not even the normal size maternity clothes. when people say "my god your massive" or "you look much further gone by now" i feel like punching them. Is this normal?!
by ninawena 14th Apr 2009, 12:53pm
I am 25 weeks pregnant and have gained 20lbs! Apparently a little too much! I dont care at the moment. As long as my baby is born healthy and at a good weight i couldnt care less! I eat when i am hungry and if that means every hour then so be it! My body must be telling me im hungry for a reason.
by sblack3011 14th Apr 2009, 12:53pm
its amazing how much food i can pack away now!! i'm 28 weeks now but at 5 weeks i was size 6 after having a tummy bug but ive definately made up for it! my friends dont feel so greedy when they order a desert when eating out coz i'll order two !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
by emmaredgemini 5th Mar 2009, 9:18am
Leanne27 i have put weight on and i am only 10 weeks pregnant i cant fit into my work pants :( and all i want to eat is rubbish foods which i no i should avoid but i cant help itb
by Jemmajuicy 4th Mar 2009, 9:18am
I have gained 34 pounds altogether
by Nita12 4th Feb 2009, 8:47am
i am currently in early stages of pregnancy and feel like the pounds are pilling on already.
I feel great though as i am very excited.....x.x
by RACHEL123 2nd Feb 2009, 10:46am
With my first I put on almost four stone. I breastfed and was back in my comfy pre-baby clothes two weeks later. With my second I gained the same but was a stone heavier to start with. I ended up going to weight-watchers to get back down to a healthy BMI. I think each pregnancy is different. Your body is likely to crave foods that you need. I want to eat savoury foods all the time but normally have a very sweet tooth. Be sensible, enjoy being pregnant, keep your snacks healthy and the chances are that you won't put on too much weight. It isn't a time to let yourself go but it is a time to relax and enjoy the experience. When your baby arrives you will be plenty busy enough and walking with your pram is a great way to get fit and to show off your new bundle of joy.
by Ernie 9th Jan 2009, 9:19am
i am 12 weeks pregnant and have already gained a stone!! i would go all day just having a small snack,then eat dinner in the evening..i just wasnt ever really hungry during the day...but now i hungry all the time,and if i dont it,the nausea starts...just really scared that if ive gained this already,how big am i going to
by sarahmurphy1984 10th Dec 2008, 8:44am
Leanne. I felt the same with my last pregnancy and also with this one. The only difference is that I am controlling myself this time. I gained 4 stone last time and this time I aim to just gain 1 as reccommended by the info above. I still have a treat each day but I also go for a long walk to help compensate.
by lornaross 26th Nov 2008, 9:12am
hi im 38 weeks into my first pregnancy and im really worried about loosing the baby weight iv gained, i was a healthy size 10/12 before i became pregnant and have gained around 4 stone to a size 16/18 its making me really self consious and i would like to lose most of it as soon as possible, does anyone who has gained a simular amount of weight have any tips on how to lose it???
by shabba1211 19th Nov 2008, 9:10am
Since becoming pregnant, 8 weeks and 2 days i have the need to eat everything that is bad for me, anyone else suffering the same problem?
by Leanne27 18th Nov 2008, 8:40am
whilst I was pregnant with my first daughter I ate for 10 not 2 !!! I gained 5 stone in weight. I am now 6 weeks pregnant again and I will be careful this time and not use it as an excuse to eat and put all the weight back on that I fought so hard to lose
by wwlxs13 4th Aug 2008, 9:13am