How Much Weight Gain Is Normal In Pregnancy?

How Much Weight Should I Gain In Pregnancy?

Most women gain about 28 pounds (13kg) during pregnancy, although individuals vary greatly and anything between 18 and 35 pounds (8 kg and 16kg) is considered normal. Weight gain starts after week 12 but the bulk of the weight should appear between weeks 20 and 30. The extra weight is created by the fetus, the placenta, the womb, the amniotic fluid, heavier breasts, fluid retention, a larger volume of blood and extra fat, especially on the hips and thighs. Weight gain is also linked to normal weight: in general, heavier women gain more weight than lighter women. If you are worried about gaining too much weight and you are not yet pregnant, try to get your weight within normal limits before conceiving (read about preparing for pregnancy). If you are pregnant, don't use your condition as an excuse to binge on candy, cakes and junk foods that are high in calories, but low in nutritional value. You do need to eat a little more, but not much - about 300 kcal extra a day is enough. That's about a single cheese sandwich or a 285ml glass of low fat milk and a jacket potato with baked beans.

When To Call The Doctor

Sudden weight changes in pregnancy or a prolonged period of no weight gain may be cause for concern, and could indicate problems such as preeclampsia or intrauterine growth restriction. If you experience these symptoms, see your doctor or midwife immediately.

Watching What You Eat

Pregnant women do need to pay attention to what they eat - for the sake of their own health as well as that of their unborn child. The guidelines are not very different from those of a normal healthy diet:

• Eat plenty of whole grains, fruit and vegetables for vitamins and fiber.
• Have breakfast.
• Avoid junk food, cakes and candy.
• Choose fresh food rather than processed.
• Use vegetable oils instead of animal fats.
• Drink a pint (570 ml) of milk every day.
• Have at least two servings a day of high protein foods such as lean meat, eggs, fish, pulses or dairy products.
• Eat food that is high in iron, such as lean red meat, whole wheat bread, dried fruit and leafy green vegetables. Iron is needed to make extra red blood cells to supply the placenta and womb, and the unborn baby.
• Try to drink at least six glasses of water every day.
• Avoid alcohol completely during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy, and have no more than one or two glasses a week thereafter if you really need to. Ideally avoid it altogether as there are no known safety limits for alcohol during pregnancy.
• Eat foods rich in folic acid, calcium and iron, such as nuts and leafy green vegetables.

CAUTION

• Do not eat liver or liver products during pregnancy. They contain high quantities of vitamin A, which has been linked with miscarriages and birth defects. See, What are the signs of a miscarriage?
• Most bacteria are harmless, but some - especially those associated with food, such as listeria and salmonella - can be extremely dangerous to an unborn baby.
• Avoid soft cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert, and mould-ripened cheeses, such as Danish blue and Stilton. Both types can carry listeria.
• Avoid raw or lightly cooked eggs because of the risk of salmonella. This includes homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, cheesecake, mousse and hollandaise sauce.
• Don't eat pate unless pasteurized. There is a risk of listeria.
• Avoid raw or lightly cooked meat because of bacterial and parasitic infections such as toxoplasmosis. For more advice, see Dos and Don'ts Of Pregnancy.

Related Questions
Pregnancy symptoms: How early does nipple discharge start in pregnancy?
Enjoying your pregnant shape: When should I start wearing maternity clothes?
Is it a boy or a girl? How accurate is a scan at predicting gender?
Genetics and future healthcare: What is cord blood banking?

• Need more information? See: Guide to Prenatal Care
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT QUESTIONS ON FEMALE HEALTH
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