It's pretty obvious that at a time when you are growing another human being inside your body, you are going to gain a few pounds – but how much is too much? And how much is too little?
One thing's for sure, eating for two is no longer the standard!
How much weight will I gain?
This depends on so many factors, it is impossible to predict accurately. Most women gain somewhere between 8kg and 14kg (1st 3lbs - 2st 2lbs) and the recommended amount is somewhere between 10kg and 12.5kg (1st 8lbs and 1st 13lbs).
The majority of weight is gained during the second half of pregnancy.
As well as the baby itself (which is becoming heavier by the day, of course, and will account for about one third of your additional weight by the time it is born), there are many changes occurring which send the scales bobbing.
Yes, you will gain some fat (which is normal and absolutely necessary to prepare for breastfeeding), but much of the additional weight comes from the increased amount of blood and water in your body, the placenta, the enlarged muscle wall of your uterus, the amniotic fluid, and increased breast tissue.
So it's important not to be freaked out by an unfamiliar number popping up on the scales – your body's probably doing exactly what it should.
In terms of weight gain during pregnancy, there is a very wide range of what is normal and safe – but of course at each end of that scale is an extreme. If you were overweight when you conceived (and you can check your BMI here), you should try not to put on lots more weight during your pregnancy, because it could lead to various problems, including high blood pressure (or pre-eclampsia) and gestational diabetes.
Similarly, if you were underweight when you conceived, now is the time to concentrate on getting yourself to a healthy BMI, because underweight mums are more likely to give birth prematurely, or have babies with a low birth weight.
What can I do to control my weight?
Many women spend their entire adult lives worrying about putting on a few extra pounds. Because, as a nation, we are somewhat obsessed with weight, it can be hard not to feel a bit funny when (before a bump even arrives) our buttons cease to meet their button holes, or our sleeves start feeling tight – even though we know, in our logical minds, it's what is supposed to be happening. The endless pictures of skinny celebrity mothers don't help!
Take advice from your midwife. If she says you should try to watch your weight gain as your pregnancy goes on, because you were overweight to start with, take that literally. Watch it, and be sensible. You mustn't starve yourself (your body and your baby need nutrients and calories, and a hungry mum-to-be is NOT a happy mum-to-be) and you shouldn't put yourself on any fad diets either.
In all likelihood, the extra pounds you have been carrying are down to a not-so-great diet, and a lack of exercise. So the answer is to eat more healthily, considering the nutritional value of everything you put in your mouth, and to get a bit more physical (unless you have been advised not to). It'll be good for both you and your baby. Your midwife will help you and give you some advice or an eating plan.
Underweight mums, even though they might feel ravenously hungry while pregnant, might find it a struggle to put on the extra weight they need to. Again, your midwife should advise you, but you need to eat three healthy meals a day, which include starch, protein, fat (mostly unsaturated), and vegetables.
You also need to snack in between. When you're trying to gain weight, nothing you put in your mouth should be calorie free – so it's out with the diet fizzy pop and in with the smoothies!
Although midwives tend not to do a weigh-in at every antenatal appointment for mums within the normal weight range, they might check you more often if you're either over or underweight, just to see how you are getting on.
Almost all mums, wherever they are on the weight scale, complete healthy pregnancies with no problems – it's just all a case of reducing risk, so go with it.
Read more about nutrition during pregnancy here.
NHS Choices has some succinct advice about weight gain during pregnancy here.
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