It’s not a good idea to try to lose weight whilst you are pregnant as it could harm you and your unborn child. Some diets can leave you low in energy and important vitamins and minerals.
Healthy weight gain
Remember, normal weight gain is one of the most positive signs of a healthy pregnancy. Women who eat a balanced diet are more likely to have healthy babies. So as long as you’re eating healthily, relax - you’re supposed to be getting bigger! However, if you are obese (extremely overweight) you health is at risk and you should consult your GP.
Normal pregnancy weight gain
During pregnancy most women gain between 10 and 20 kilos. This weight includes your baby, the placenta, the extra fluid in your bloodstream, the water around your baby, your growing breasts, and some extra fat stores to protect your baby. All these changes are important for the health of your baby and the pregnancy.
Putting on too much weight isn't good for you or your baby though, and the extra kilos may be harder to shed after giving birth.
Managing your weight doesn't mean dieting or trying to lose weight. This is definitely not the time for a weight-loss diet! Managing your weight by eating well and keeping active can help you to achieve a healthier pregnancy, a safer birth and a healthier baby.
Body mass index and pregnancy
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation that health professionals use to work out whether you are a healthy weight for your height (weight (kg)/ height (m²)).
- Less than 18.5 is considered underweight
- 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy
- 25 to 29.9 is considered ‘overweight’
- Over 30 is considered ‘obese’
Why it matters
It’s especially important to manage your weight during pregnancy if you are already obese, with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of more than 30. There are important benefits.
- Be more comfortable: You'll be able to stay more mobile, and less likely to suffer problems with your skin, or with pelvic pain.
- Reduce the risk of complications: Some of the complications aggravated by excess weight are serious, including miscarriage and birth defects; gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia ; complications in labour including the need for a caesarean delivery; stillbirth and short and long-term health problems for the baby.
- Lose weight quicker afterwards: You'll have less weight to lose after you have had your baby.
- Protect your baby's health: Your child will be less likely to develop obesity during his/her life.
Janet - 8 months pregnant:
"If I'd been told that I didn't need those extra calories, that would have been a help because I honestly thought from day one you need extra calories.
My mum goes, 'Oh, go on, you're pregnant! Come on, you're eating for two!'. But I'm not. I know it is better for me and the baby to be careful about not eating too much..."
Help for you
If you feel you need help managing your weight in pregnancy make an appointment to talk to your doctor who will be able to advise you.
- If you were attending a slimming group before you were pregnant, ask your midwife or GP whether you should continue. Responsible slimming groups promote balanced, healthy eating. They recommend choosing a variety of foods, but not eating too many fatty or sugary foods.
- Avoid diets which cut out particular food groups, eg. low carbohydrate or dairy-free diets. This could harm both you and your baby as you will not get all the essential nutrients you need to keep healthy.
- Never join a slimming group or put yourself on a diet without asking advice from your midwife or GP
With thanks to Tommy's