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.
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.