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Putting on Weight When Pregnant

During your pregnancy your body has been adapting to its new role - that of producing a new little human being. Putting on some weight is a natural and important part of this process.

How many kilos should I put on?

Putting on too little weight during your pregnancy is not ideal for your growing foetus. At the other extreme, putting on too much weight is not ideal either. Gaining excessive amounts of weight during your pregnancy can cause problems like back aches, tiredness and lethargy - all things you can do without when you have an extra body on board.

For most healthy women, the recommended weight gain is between 12 and 15 kilograms. But remember that every woman is different and weight gain will vary from person to person. If you are underweight, you may gain more weight than this, and if you are overweight, it may be acceptable to gain a little less. Follow your doctor’s recommendations.

Putting on the right amount of weight can contribute to a comfortable pregnancy, a straight forward delivery and a good birth outcome.

How will my weight change?

Your increased weight is divided almost equally between your baby (including the placenta and amniotic fluid) and your own body (increased blood volume, body fats, enlarged uterus and breasts).

Weight increases vary from woman to woman. However, here is an indication of average weight increases during the different trimesters of the pregnancy. Don´t worry if your weight change does not fall strictly within these ranges – it is simply a guide.

  • Average weight gain in the 1st trimester: approximately 2.0 to 3.0 kilos
  • Average weight gain in the 2nd trimester: approximately 4.5 to 5.5 kilos
  • Average weight gain the 3rd trimester: approximately 5.5 to 6.5 kilos

What if I put on too much weight?

Every woman's body is different, so weight gain during pregnancy will vary from one person to another. A balanced diet and gentle exercise should help you achieve the normal weight gain during pregnancy of 12 to 15 kilograms. It is advisable to take steps early if you find you are putting on too much weight too soon, as excessive weight gain can cause complications. If you were underweight before becoming pregnant, you should not worry if you gain a little more than 15 kilograms.

Eat a variety of foods from the core food groups including vegetables, fresh fruit, wholegrain breads, cereals, legumes, lean meats, fish, seafood and reduced fat dairy products. Limit your intake of fried foods, fatty takeaway foods, pastries, cakes, biscuits and sweets. And don’t forget to include some regular gentle exercise like walking or swimming. Don´t hesitate to discuss your weight or dietary concerns with your doctor or an accredited practising dietitian (APD).

Some pregnant women are tempted to use their pregnancy as an excuse to ignore all the rules of a balanced, healthy diet. But if you put on too much weight:

  • You will place additional stress on your heart, when it already has additional work pumping an increased volume of blood around the body.
  • You may hurt your back.
  • You are more likely to become tired and fatigued.
  • It may be harder for you to get in shape again after the birth of your baby.