There are no official guidelines for how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. There is only general advice that most women put on somewhere between 10 kg to 12.5 kg. You will gain most of the weight after 20 weeks.
In the first trimester, most women do not need to gain much weight. That is around 2 kg or less. This is for all women including for those who have morning sickness early in pregnancy. Some may even lose a small amount of weight. You need not be concerned as long as you start to gain weight steadily in the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy. Regardless of your BMI at the start of pregnancy, you can still have a healthy weight gain during pregnancy. The rate of weight gain can vary during the rest of your pregnancy and may not be the same every week.
The general guidelines for pregnancy weight gain are:
Pre pregnancy weight Recommended weight gain
Underweight (BMI < 18.5) About 13 to 18 kg
Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) About 11 to 16 kg
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) About 7 to 11 kg
Obese (BMI 30 or more) About 5 to 9 kg
Carrying a lot of extra weight at the start of pregnancy can increase your risk of complications during pregnancy and labor, and make you more likely to have:
- High blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
- A big baby or macrosomia
- Delivery through caesarean section
It is best not to go on a diet while you are pregnant. Low-calorie or crash diets could affect your baby. Aim to eat healthy, instead.
If you are underweight and pregnant, speak to your doctor about how to gain weight over the coming months. Eat a variety of healthy, nutritious foods, so your baby will get the calories and essential vitamins and nutrients he needs. If your BMI is low, chances are that you will have a premature or low-birth-weight baby.
To eat healthily, have a variety of the following foods:
- Bread, potatoes, rice, cereals (carbohydrates). Choose wholegrain varieties, such as brown rice and wholemeal bread. Starchy foods should make up to a third of what you eat daily.
- Fruits and vegetables, at least, five portions a day. These should make up another third of what you eat daily.
- Proteins, such as meat, fish, eggs and pulses.
- Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese. If you are overweight, choose low-fat versions
Try not to have large meals and never overeat. You could have six small meals instead. Remember, you do not have to eat for two. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy will be difficult to shed after your baby is born.
Keeping active will help you to control your weight. Exercise is good for you during pregnancy. Staying active will also increase your chance of having an easy labour and birth.