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How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?

How much pregnancy weight gain is normal?

Everyone is different, but all mums-to-be will put on some weight when they get pregnant. Growing a new little person, not to mention the extra fluid, and your placenta, all add up. But how much weight gain is ‘normal’? Is there any such thing? Having a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy helps you feel better, gain the right amount of weight, and give your baby the best start.

How much weight can I expect to put on?

Weight gain in pregnancy can vary. Most pregnant women gain between 1 stone 8Ib (that’s about 10kg) and 1 stone 12Ib (that’s around 12.5kg) throughout their pregnancy, most of it after week 20.  

Most of this weight is a result of your baby growing, but your body is also getting ready for your new arrival and storing fat, ready for making breast milk.   By the time you get to your due date, on average, these will weigh:

  • Baby – 7.3Ib (that’s around 3.3kg)
  • Placenta – 1.5Ib (around 0.7kg)
  • Amniotic fluid – 1.8Ib (around 0.8kg)

Add to that your growing breasts, muscle layer around the womb, extra blood and other fluid, and those fat stores, and you can see exactly where the weight comes from.  

How much weight you put on also depends on your Body Mass Index (BMI) at the start of your pregnancy. This is a simple way to tell if your weight is healthy, by charting your weight in relation to your height. You can check your BMI  yourself, but your midwife will work it out at your booking appointment.  

What happens if I gain too much weight?

Putting on too much weight can lead to problems like high blood pressure, and put you at risk of complications, including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, or a bigger baby, meaning you may need a c-section. But that doesn’t mean you should go on a diet: it’s important to eat healthily, and talk to your midwife or doctor if you’re worried.  

What happens if I don’t gain enough weight?

Some mums-to-be stay naturally slim during pregnancy, and have perfectly healthy babies. But if you’re not gaining enough weight it can cause problems like having a premature baby, or a baby with a low birth weight. It can also mean your body isn’t storing enough fat, which is important for breastfeeding.  

I’ve been looking forward to eating for two!

Now we hate to break it to you… but “eating for two” is a myth. Sorry about that. It’s incredible, but your baby takes everything they need from your body, until the third trimester. That’s when you should up your calories, but only by about 200 a day. That’s roughly equivalent to half an avocado, or 50g of cheddar.  

We don’t want to sound like your mum, (we suspect you’ll be doing that yourself in a few years!) but it means eating lots of fresh fruit and veg, and protein. There are certain things you can’t eat and drink when you’re pregnant, so read up, to make sure you’re eating the right things.  

We’re not saying you’re not allowed the odd chocolate biscuit – after all, your body is working hard, creating a wonderful new mini human, so it deserves a treat every now and then. But bear in mind that gaining too much weight during pregnancy means you’ll have more to lose after your baby comes along, as claire0412 from our community discovered:  

“I had a small bump, and didn't put weight on anywhere else with my 1st pregnancy so was quite pleased, yet this time I seem to be looking larger everywhere! I’m 29 weeks have put on 1st 7lb. I think I've been a little slacker with my eating in this pregnancy, I'm healthy and exercise, but I don't restrict myself like I did with my 1st with chocolate, cake, etc. If I've felt like it, I've had it! Have to remind myself it needs to come off afterwards!”  

So what’s the best way for me to manage pregnancy weight gain?

It is a good idea, for both you and your baby, to keep an eye on your weight. That doesn’t mean dieting, or trying to lose weight. It’s about keeping active (not that you have a choice if you already have an active toddler in tow!) and eating healthily.  

Not only will eating healthily make you feel better, and give you more energy, it will also give your baby the best start in life. If you’re eating well, so is your baby.  

So what’s the best exercise for me, now that I’m pregnant?

Staying active is really important, as it will help get your body ready for labour and birth, by building stamina and strength. Keeping up your normal daily activities is fine, unless your midwife or GP has advised you not to exercise.  

You’ll probably be glad to hear that now is not the time to hit the gym for a high-impact spinning class, and trampolining and horse-riding are out, too. Think little and often; it’s more about keeping active, and not spending too much time on the sofa, as tempting as that may be.  

Here are some quick and easy ideas to help keep you in tip top condition, and boost your energy levels:

  • Walk instead of taking the bus, or get off a stop early
  • Head to the park in your lunch break
  • Climb the stairs instead of getting the lift
  • When you’re shopping, carrying the bags will exercise your arms – just make sure they aren’t too heavy
  • If you have other children, walk them to school, nursery or toddler group, if it’s not too far
  • If you’re doing the housework, switch on some music and put lots of energy into it
  • Take the dog for an extra walk (if you have one)  

If you already swim, or go to a yoga or pilates class, you can carry on unless your midwife says you shouldn’t exercise. Just let your teacher know that you’re pregnant, so they can tailor the exercises to you, if needed.  

You could go to pregnancy yoga, or aquanatal classes, which will be full of other mums-to-be. As well as keeping you moving, it’s a great way to make new friends, who are at the same stage of pregnancy as you. You might find exercising when pregnant is actually more fun, as your growing baby bump throws a new element of unpredictability into the mix!  

Speak to your midwife if you’re worried about your weight

It’s perfectly natural to worry about “the right” amount of weight gain; your midwife will be able to tell you if you are putting on too much or too little, and advise you what to do if you are. If you weigh more than 14st 3lb (that’s about 100kg) or under 7st 14lb (that’s around 50kg) your midwife may advise you to see a doctor or dietician, to make sure you get the help you need to stay healthy during your pregnancy.  

How do I lose weight after I give birth?

Most of your weight gain will go pretty soon after you give birth. The baby, all that amniotic fluid, and the placenta will make you lighter in a matter of hours. For the rest, a healthy diet combined with regular exercise is the safest way to go. But don’t start cutting back too soon, and definitely not until after your six week check: being a new mum can be pretty exhausting, and breastfeeding and sleepless nights need a lot of energy. Try to be patient – after all, it took nine months to put the weight on, and it’s normal for it to take just as long, or longer to come off again.  

How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?