What exactly is healthy weight gain in pregnancy, and how do you keep your weight within these healthy ranges? Naturopath Stephanie Hamilton explains.
Gaining weight during a healthy pregnancy is inevitable. In fact, your baby’s growth and health depends on it. Being overweight or underweight during pregnancy can have many risks, so it is important to make sure you stick within the recommended weight gain guidelines.
The below table outlines the recommended weight gain during pregnancy based on your weight before you conceived, and it is intended as a guide only. If you are carrying twins or multiple babies, you’re likely to gain more weight. Discuss what a healthy weight gain is for you with your healthcare professional.
Pre-pregnancy weight vs Recommended weight gain
- Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) 12.5 - 18 kilograms
- Normal weight (BMI 18.5 - 24.9) 11.5 - 16 kilograms
- Overweight (BMI 25 - 29.9) 7 - 11.5 kilograms
- Obese (BMI 30 or greater) 5 - 9 kilograms
Keeping your weight gain within the healthy ranges will help to reduce the risk of many complications that can occur during pregnancy and child birth.
According to research, there are many implications of too much or too little weight gain in pregnancy, and it seems that your weight at conception also plays an important role.
Several studies have suggested that low gestational weight gain is associated with pre-term birth and lower birth weight, especially in women who were underweight before pregnancy. High gestational weight gain is associated with macrosomia (excessive birth weight), especially in women who were overweight or obese before pregnancy.
Tips to maintain a healthy weight range
Start at a healthy weight
Make sure part of your preconception care plan focuses on getting you to a healthy weight. Obesity and being underweight has been linked with reduced fertility, and if you are overweight at the onset, it will be even more difficult for you to lose the weight after the baby is born.
Eat nutrients for two, not food for two
See article Seven top foods when you’re eating for two for more specific information on a healthy pregnancy diet.
Manage your cravings
If you are hankering for a thick shake or a cream bun every hour, you need to practice some willpower and understand that these foods will not benefit you or your baby at all. Select foods that are satisfying but nutritious.
Regular gentle exercise and keep active
Exercise has many benefits during pregnancy especially for circulation and fluid retention, but keeping active will also help ensure your weight is kept within range. Regular exercise will also make it easier to get back into shape after the birth. See Keeping fit during pregnancy for more.
Get your partner involved
It’s easier to be motivated when there are two of you and one isn’t pregnant and tired!
See a naturopath
If you are concerned about your weight or feel you need some specific guidance, a naturopath can discuss a healthy pregnancy plan.
As you enter the later stages of your pregnancy, you begin to feel ‘fuller’ and ‘heavier’ and perhaps not as sexy as you dreamt you would in your preconception days. The ability to engage in regular exercise may be reduced.
You may find that cellulite becomes a little more noticeable around your buttocks and thighs, but in the positive words of many heavily pregnant women I have spoken to recently: “It’s all worth it!”
The key is to eat well and nourish yourself completely to allow for the extra weight to be lost easily after birth. It’s very important to have these extra curves and storage places to prepare for breast-feeding which will use up those fat stores quickly.
References available on request