Sunday, July 14, 2024

Weight Management in Pregnancy

This is an INFORMATION page, verified by physician

It is a myth that you need to “eat for two” during pregnancy or that you need to switch to full fat milk. Your energy needs don’t increase in the first 6 months of pregnancy. You only need an extra 200 calories per day in the last 3 months of pregnancy. Below you will find advice on maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy.

The weight gained during pregnancy is a combination of the weight of the baby and placenta, fluid retention and increased body fat stores. Gaining too much weight in pregnancy increases the risks in pregnancy such as becoming a diabetic or having a difficult labour and birth.

The recommended weight gain in pregnancy depends on your body mass index at the start of pregnancy. This will be calculated at your booking appointment.

You shouldn’t try to lose weight during pregnancy irrespective of your BMI.

Managing Your Diet

A healthy diet for pregnancy is based on starchy foods such as pasta, bread, rice and potatoes, ideally the wholegrain versions of these foods. You then need a source of protein, chicken, meat, fish or plant-based protein and ideally high fibre foods such as oats, beans, peas, lentils, grains and seeds. You should aim for 5 portions of vegetables or fruit a day, ideally more vegetables than fruit. You should look for low fat foods where possible

The foods to avoid are fried foods and processed foods that are high in fats and sugars. This includes takeaways, cakes, pastries, biscuits and ready meals. Avoid drinks that are high in sugar such as fizzy drinks and limit the number of smoothies which are high in sugar but low in fibre. These are all the foods everyone enjoys and having these as a treat now and again is fine, it’s all about keeping a balance.


Pregnant women should aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day such as brisk walking or swimming. If you haven’t been used to exercising regularly start gently, try walking up the stairs rather than taking the elevator and try gentle walking for 10-15 minutes a day, gradually building up to 30 minutes. If you are used to regular exercise you can continue but certain types of high intensity exercise may not be suitable for pregnancy so check with your obstetrician.


You do burn extra calories when breastfeeding. Women need an extra 330 calories per day for the first 6 months of breastfeeding and then an extra 400 calories per day after that. One really good way of losing weight after pregnancy is to continue to be careful about your calorie intake while breastfeeding and that can burn off the pregnancy weight gain. It’s important not to reduce your calorie intake by dieting, just don’t add on the extra calories.

More Advice on Maintaining a Healthy Weight during Pregnancy

It’s also worth checking out help, advice, and any maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy posts in our Baby Facebook Group. It allows you to ask questions, gain access to basic advice and share experiences with others facing the same new experiences. You can join here:

about the author

Dr Lisa Joels
Dr Lisa Joels
OBSTETRICIAN & GYNAECOLOGIST - Dr Lisa Joels (MB ChB, MD, FRCOG, FHEA) has 34 years’ experience in obstetrics and gynaecology including 19 years as a Consultant working in Swansea (2001-11) and subsequently at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundations Trust in the UK (2011-20). These are both University teaching hospitals, each having more than 4,000 deliveries a year and providing tertiary obstetric and neonatal services as well as gynaecological services to their local population. Dr Joels has experience in management of complex obstetric and gynaecological problems including a multi-disciplinary approach and working closely with related specialties such as midwifery, neonatology, paediatrics and anaesthetics. She believes in a woman-centred holistic approach to clinical management and is an advocate for patient choice and shared decision making.

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