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 and although many pregnant women ask health professionals for advice about what is the recommended weight gain during pregnancy there is no evidence-based UK guidelines on recommended weight gain ranges during pregnancy. Most pregnant women gain between 10kg (that’s about 1 stone 8Ib) and 12.5kg (that’s around 1 stone 12Ib) throughout their pregnancy, most of it after week 20, however, the amount of weight gain can vary a great deal.   

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. Women who are overweight or obese are recommended to put on less weight than those women who are in the normal or underweight BMI ranges.

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.  

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.

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?

First, it’s important to be active during your pregnancy as this will boost your physical health and baby's - as well as helping you to balance your emotional wellbeing.
Exercising in pregnancy is safe and healthy. You can do most types of exercise including running, Pilates, weights, yoga and swimming.

Here's some pregnancy exercise know-how tips:

Be class-aware

Make sure you tell your instructor that you are pregnant (and any complications or conditions you may have) and if your class isn’t a pregnancy-specific class, ask the instructor if they are any exercises that you shouldn’t do. They’ll usually suggest ways to adapt the exercises for you. 

Say no to contact

Contact activities, such as kick boxing, or self-defence classes, or games like squash where there is a chance of being hit should be avoided. Sports which have a risk of falling like horse riding or skiing should only be done with extreme caution.

“But I’m no Gym Bunny!”

Don’t worry if you did not exercise before getting pregnant, it is safe and healthy to start now. Start with 15 minutes of exercise three times a week and increase it gradually to 30-minute sessions four days a week or every day.  Exercise doesn’t have to be planned sessions. There are exercises and pregnancy DVDs you can do at home or at work and that fit in around your day – like building in a bit of walking on your commute to work and talking the stairs instead of the lift.

Don’t forget to Floor it! 

There are some specific exercises you can do in pregnancy to keep your pelvic floor in shape.  These can help prepare for labour and pay dividends after your baby is born.  

Thanks to all the cheeky words in these instructions, you won’t be able to get through without a snigger. Try giving these a go:

  • Clench you bottom as if you're trying not to fart (we did warn you!)
  • at the same time, draw in your vagina as if you're gripping a tampon (yes really), and your urethra as if you’re trying not to wee
  • at first, do this exercise quickly - tightening and releasing the muscles immediately
  • then do it sloooowly, holding the contractions for as long as you can before you relax. Try to count to 10.
  • ask yourself just how strange your facial expression is right now...
  • try to do three sets of eight squeezes every day

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 90kg) 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 6 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?