It’s important that you eat well throughout your pregnancy to give your baby the best start.The reason you gain weight is to fuel your baby's development, lay down energy stores for breastfeeding later on, and for the increased tissue in your uterus, placenta and your red blood cells.
Remember, despite the incorrect but popular myth of 'eating for two' - pregnancy is not the time to eat too much or to choose unhealthy foods. It is crucial you don't use pregnancy as an excuse to throw good eating habits out the window and over-indulge. During the first trimester you generally don't need to eat more than usual (unless you started out pregnancy underweight) and during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, you do need extra food and nutrients, but not as much as you probably think.
In the second trimester your calorie requirement increases by around 340 calories per day, or in food terms this is:
2 slices of toast with mashed egg, & an orange, or a pottle of low fat fruit yoghurt, & a handful of nuts & an apple.
In the third trimester your calorie requirement increases by around 450 calories extra each day, or in food terms this is:
2 slices of toast topped with relish and melted edam cheese & a bowl of pumpkin soup or a low fat muesli bar & a home-made wrap filled with salad, avocado, and canned salmon or a large handful of nuts & a banana & a pottle of fruit yoghurt.
Weight gain varies from woman to woman, but a gain of around 11.5 to 16 kg is recommended for a woman who started pregnancy at a healthy weight. There are different weight guidelines if you started pregnancy underweight or overweight, and it's a good idea to ask your doctor or LMC to monitor your weight gain regularly throughout your pregnancy to make sure you're on track. Gaining too much weight can lead to complications such as high blood pressure, diabetes, a larger than normal baby, and a higher risk of a complicated delivery requiring a caesarian.
Below are weight gain guidelines related to your pre-pregnancy weight: (Source: Institute of Medicine 2009)
|Pre-pregnancy BMI (kg/m2)||Recommended total weight gain (kg)|
|Underweight (BMI <18.5)||12.5-18.0|
|Normal weight (BMI 18.5 - 24.9)||11.5-16.0|
|Overweight (BMI 25.0 - 29.9)||7.0 -11.5|
|Obese (BMI ≥ 30.0)||5.0 - 9.0|
If you think you would beneift from specific advice on your diet during pregnancy you may wish to be referred to a Dietitian, or contact one of our friendly nutrition experts.