Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can suddenly eat double everything – so before you tuck into that second bowl of ice cream, read on…
While weight gain is essential during pregnancy to accommodate for your growing baby and eating some extra calories is required to make sure baby (and you) are getting everything you need to thrive, the idea that you should double what you’re eating isn’t true – and too much weight gain can actually be harmful to your baby and you.
Excessive weight gain can increase your risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, preterm birth, as well as your chances of having complications arise during labour and/or caesarean section. It can also mean ongoing health and weight problems for your child as they grow up.
The exact amount of weight you should gain during pregnancy and the calories you need to consume will depend on the individual (taking into account your weight before conception, age, health and lifestyle etc) but generally speaking women should look to gain between 11 and 16kg during pregnancy.
If you followed a healthy diet before falling pregnant, then you shouldn’t have to change too much once you are, but if you are concerned with how much you weigh and how much to put on, speak with your doctor or midwife for a more personalised approach.
Eating a healthy balanced diet containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meat and low-mercury fish and dairy should be your aim. And while many of us think pregnancy is a time to indulge in ALL of the junk food, you need to keep these as treats and focus on getting healthy food into you as much as possible.
Getting plenty of exercise (as per your doctor’s orders) is also important during pregnancy to keep you active, help with managing weight gain, postpartum recovery and also works wonders for your mental health.
Exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous or involve a gym, it can be as little as a daily walk or swim or practising yoga or Pilates. If you have an uncomplicated pregnancy your doctor will usually advise that you are safe to continue exercising as you did before you fell pregnant, however, you may find you need to adjust what you’re doing throughout the pregnancy as your mobility and energy levels change.
If you are concerned about how much weight you are gaining – or that you’re not gaining enough, you should always speak with your midwife or obstetrician.