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Pregnancy Weight Gain: How To Control It

Midwife Tracy Donegan answers a common question on healthy weight gain in pregnancy 

Q. I am 32 years old and nine-weeks pregnant. I am feeling great so far and holding tight until my three-month check. However, I am worried as I am already about two stone overweight and I’ve put on about two pounds so far. How much weight is safe to gain when you’re already overweight? I want to have a safe pregnancy and ensure that my growing baby is healthy.

A. The best way to approach pregnancy is in a good state of health, but as we all know, sometimes those little blue lines can sometimes be an unexpected surprise and we’re not as healthy as we’d like to be.

We swear off the drink and cigarettes, but what you eat in pregnancy is really important for your health and the health of your baby. Some studies now suggest that around half of all mums-to-be are overweight, which is bad news for women and babies. Once you’re past the first trimester sickness you may feel like eating everything around you. It’s easy to put on extra weight in pregnancy as many women ‘graze’ throughout the day since going too long between meals can make them feel unwell (and ‘hangry’).

Pregnancy Weight Gain

The current evidence recommends that if you have a BMI of 30 or more that you bring that down before becoming pregnant. Most women gain between 10kg and 12.5kg (22lbs to 26lbs) with the majority of that weight being put on in the second trimester (when your appetite comes back!). Most of this weight is your growing baby, but your body is also storing fat to make into breast milk for your baby.

Too much weight and you and your baby are more likely to have complications such as mothers having blood pressure problems. Gestational diabetes is now more common and if it’s not managed well, the extra glucose in your blood goes to your baby and can result in a higher weight baby and more intervention in labour for you both.

Too little weight gain can also cause problems, particularly for your baby, who is more likely to be of low birth weight. However, some women eat well and exercise in pregnancy and don’t gain much weight and have very healthy babies.


Focus On A Healthy Pregnancy

So what can you do today?  Do your best to eat a range of healthy foods (more vegetables than fruit as some fruit can have a high sugar content) a balanced diet, water and don’t forget some light exercise.

Include more fibre too and reduce processed foods (they tend to have lots of hidden sugars). Managing stress is important too as sometimes when we’re stressed we eat for comfort. Mindful eating is also really helpful. Slow down as you eat…rather than inhaling your food. Notice the tastes and textures. Your baby is also ‘tasting’ these foods through the amniotic fluid. Exposing them to healthy veg now may save you some toddler tantrums with broccoli when they’re older! 

Your body is going through incredible changes so don’t beat yourself up over what you ate yesterday – start today and take it one day at a time. 

Click here to read more advice about pregnancy health and wellbeing.

About the Author

I’m Tracy Donegan, registered midwife and mum to 2 gorgeous boys. I’ve been working in Irish maternity services since 2005 and really enjoy helping Irish families have the best experiences possible. You may be familiar with my books – The Irish Better Birth Book and The Irish Caesarean and VBAC Guide, as well as the very popular GentleBirth Positive Birth app.


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