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Healthy weight gain during pregnancy

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy2018-02-13T14:29:15+10:00

It’s perfectly normal to gradually gain weight as your baby grows.

Most women gain between 11.5 kg and 16 kg, but how much weight you gain is dependent on:

  • Your weight before pregnancy (if you’re underweight you may need to gain more, and if you’re overweight you should gain a little less)
  • The number of babies you are carrying
  • Morning sickness and other illnesses

It’s important to eat well when you’re pregnant to give your baby a healthy start, but you don’t have to ‘eat for two’. Instead, talk to your doctor about what’s the best weight gain for you.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines for good health and nutrition during pregnancy are:

Meet your energy needs

To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, pregnant women need to be physically active and choose the appropriate amounts of nutritious food and drinks that will meet their energy needs. During the first trimester, your kilojoule intake should remain the same as it was prior to you being pregnant, however, during your second and third trimesters, your energy needs will increase. To meet these needs, it is recommended that you increase your intake of grain foods to an extra 2½ serves per day, and lean meats and alternatives to an extra one serve per day.

Eat from the five food groups

Steady weight gain during pregnancy is normal and important for the health of you and your baby. However, it is also important not to gain too much weight. Choosing foods from the Five Food Groups every day will also ensure you and your growing baby have enough extra nutrients:

  • Vegetables and legumes/beans.
  • Fruit
  • Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties.
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds.
  • Milk, yoghurt cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Limit your intake of the ‘bad stuff’

To maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy, you should also limit your intake of certain foods, including:

  • Foods containing saturated fats, like biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, fried foods and processed meats
  • High fat foods like butter, cream and coconut oil which contain predominantly saturated fats. These should be replaced with foods that contain predominately polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats like oils, nut butters and avocado.
  • Foods containing added salt. Read labels and choose lower sodium options and don’t add salt in cooking or at the table.
  • Foods and drinks containing added sugars, including soft drinks, cordials, fruit drinks and energy drinks

Foods to avoid

Pregnant women are at greater risk of food poisoning and should prepare and store food carefully. They should also avoid:

  • Alcohol
  • Foods which may contain listeria bacteria like soft cheeses (brie, camembert, ricotta, feta and blue cheese), sandwich meats, bean sprouts, pre-prepared salads and pâté
  • Raw eggs, as they may contain salmonella
  • Fish that may contain high levels of mercury – Food Standards Australia New Zealand recommend consuming no more than one serve (100g cooked) per fortnight of shark or flake, marlin or swordfish, and no other fish that fortnight, or one serve (100g cooked) per week of deep sea perch or catfish and no other fish that week.
  • Foods such as nuts, but only if you are allergic to the foods yourself – avoiding these foods has no impact on your infant’s risk of developing allergy symptoms.

Useful links

Did you know?

Although vitamin A requirements do increase during pregnancy, vitamin A supplements are rarely recommended for pregnant women because an excessive intake of vitamin A can cause birth deformities. The best way to make sure that you’re getting enough vitamin A is through food sources like milk, fish, eggs and margarine.