How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
Although it’s expected that you’ll gain weight during pregnancy, it’s important that you don’t fall into the trap of “eating for two”. Morning sickness and hormonal fluctuations associated with pregnancy may result in abnormal eating patterns in some pregnant women, especially in the beginning stages of pregnancy when you’re put off by the mere smell of certain foods. Others, especially during the second and third trimesters, may feel that pregnancy is a time to relax and eat as they please. But it’s vitally important for the healthy development of your baby that you keep an eye on your weight gain during pregnancy.
About one-third of your pregnancy weight gain will occur during your second trimester, while the remaining two-thirds occurs during your third trimester. Your weight gain during pregnancy will largely depend on your pre-pregnancy BMI.
If you have a lower pre-pregnancy BMI (under 20), you will need to manage your food intake and weight gain to a healthy level for the development of your growing baby, and you should ideally gain approximately 500g per week.
Women with a higher pre-pregnancy BMI tend to gain more weight during pregnancy, so need to be more aware of their food intake, ensuring they do not overeat. Ideally, if your BMI is higher, you should gain around 300g per week. For a BMI greater than 29, it’s important to consult your LMC about the rate of weight gain and the appropriate weight gain for your body.
The total weight gain for pregnant women as recommended by The Ministry of Health is:
- Low BMI (less than 19.8) – 12.5kg to 18kg
- Normal BMI (19.8 to 26) – 11.5kg to 16kg
- High BMI (26 to 29) – 7kg to 11kg
- Obese (BMI greater than 29) – 6kg
A greater weight gain increases the risk of complications during pregnancy and labour to both yourself and your baby, and there is also a higher risk of developing conditions such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.
Pregnancy is a good time to make a positive change to your nutrition if your pre-pregnancy eating habits were not entirely healthy. Choose nourishing unprocessed foods, avoid fast foods and sweet, sugary treats as much as possible.
For further information on healthy eating and weight gain during pregnancy, visit www.moh.govt.nz.