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Planning to Be Pregnant? Healthy Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

A healthy weight gain during pregnancy can help give your baby a healthy start. It can also help with a healthy pregnancy for you. The amount of weight you should gain depends on how much you weigh before you get pregnant.

 

How much weight is healthy to gain?

How much weight you should gain is based on your Body Mass Index (BMI) before your pregnancy. Find out your BMI and recommended weight gain using the Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator. Depending on your BMI, there’s a range of weight gain that is healthy.

 

 

Body Mass Index

Recommended Weight Gain

less than 18.5

underweight

12.5 - 18 kg (28 - 40 lbs)

18.5 - 24.9

healthy weight

11.5 - 16 kg (25 - 35 lbs)

25.0 - 29.9

overweight

7 - 11.5 kg (15 - 25 lbs)

greater than 30

obese

5 - 9 kg (11 - 20 lbs)

 

If you are pregnant with more than one baby (e.g. twins) you’ll need to gain more weight. Check with your health care provider to figure out the best weight gain for you.

Health Canada has more information about how much weight you should gain. See this chart if you are having one baby and this chart if you are having twins or more.

 

What happens if you are overweight or underweight before getting pregnant?

It’s important to reach a healthy BMI before getting pregnant. Being under- or over-weight when you get pregnant can impact your health and the health of your baby.

 

If you are overweight before getting pregnant:

Overweight and obese pregnant women are at risk for complications such as:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Caesarean section delivery
  • Larger and heavier babies
  • Pre-term birth (baby is born before expected birth date which can cause health issues for your baby)
  • Babies more likely to be overweight in childhood

If you’re overweight, it’s important to get to a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about a physical activity plan and diet counseling with a Registered Dietitian to help you with weight loss. 

If you’re overweight and already pregnant, now is not the time to try to cut back on calories. Losing weight or dieting while you are pregnant is not recommended. To keep your developing baby healthy and gain the right amount of weight for you, you’ll still need to eat enough healthy foods from Canada’s Food Guide and be active. Note: Speak to your healthcare provider before starting a new activity routine during – especially if you are new to exercise.

An EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian can help you with tips on how to lose or gain the right amount of weight for you. Call 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.

 

If you are underweight before getting pregnant:

Underweight women are more likely to have smaller babies and babies born with lower birth weights. They are also more likely to deliver babies pre-term. These babies are at an increased risk for health problems after they are born.

If you are underweight, try to reach a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Be sure to choose enough healthy foods from the Food Guide. Talk to your health care provider about diet counseling with a registered dietitian to help you get to a healthy weight. 

An EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian can help you with tips on how to lose or gain the right amount of weight for you. Call 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.

 

Why is it important to not gain more weight than recommended?

Too much weight gain during pregnancy can be unhealthy for you and your baby. Women who gain more weight than recommended during pregnancy are at higher risk for:

  • Keeping on extra weight after the baby is born – which can lead to overweight or obesity.
  • Large babies who weigh more than 4500 grams (9lbs) – which can lead to difficulties during delivery such as long labour, caesarean delivery, birth trauma, and increased risk of infant death.

Some studies show that babies born to mothers who gain more weight than recommended during pregnancy are more likely to be overweight in childhood and be at increased risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.

 

Why is it important not to gain less weight than recommended?

Too little weight gain during pregnancy can increase the risk of health complications for you and your baby. Women who gain too little weight are more likely to deliver too early or have babies who are at a low birth weight. These babies are at an increased risk for health problems after they are born.

 

How much weight should you gain each trimester?

Your pregnancy is divided into three parts, called trimesters. Each trimester is three months long. If you’re at a healthy BMI, you might gain anywhere between 1 – 2 kg (2 – 4 lbs) during the first trimester.

Most weight gain happens in the second and third trimesters when your baby is growing and developing and your body is changing to support your baby. The amount of weight you gain each trimester will depend on your BMI before you got pregnant.

 

Pre-Pregnancy BMI

Average Weight Gain in the 2nd and 3rd Trimesters

 

kg/week

lb/week

less than 18.5

underweight

0.5

1.0

18.5 - 24.9

healthy weight

0.4

1.0

25.0 - 29.9

overweight

0.3

0.6

more than 30

obese

0.2

0.5

 

Your health care provider will help you keep track of your weight to make sure that you gain a healthy amount of weight.

 

Best bet for a healthy weight gain: eat healthy and be active

Being active and eating nutritious foods can help you gain a healthy amount of weight during your pregnancy.

Enjoy Healthy Foods

During the second and third trimesters you’ll need to eat just a little more food to get enough nutrients and calories to support your growing baby. An extra two or three food guide servings each day is often enough. 

Here are some examples of Food Guide servings that you can add to your meals or snacks:

Vegetables and Fruit

1 medium banana – enjoy as a snack

125 mL (1/2 cup) blueberries – add them to your breakfast cereal

1 cup of leafy greens – make your salad a little bigger

½ cup cooked broccoli – add it to your dinner plate

Grain Products

½ cup of cooked whole grain couscous – have an extra little scoop with your meal

2 cups of plain popcorn – a yummy night time snack

¼ piece of naan – enjoy with lentil soup at lunch

1 small pancake – spread on a little peanut butter, makes a great snack!

Milk and Alternatives

50 mL (1 cup) of milk – enjoy a glass at dinner

50 grams (1 ½ oz) cheddar cheese – slip a slice into your sandwich

175 mL (3/4 cup) kefir – sip with your morning snack

125 mL (½ cup) of milk pudding – makes a calcium rich dessert

Meat and Alternatives

175 mL (3/4 cup) black beans – add them to your vegetable soup

30 mL (2 Tbsp) almond butter – enjoy spread on apple wedges for a crunchy snack

75 g (2 ½ oz) chicken breast – top your pizza with poultry

60 mL (1/4 cup) roasted soy nuts – sprinkle on your salad

This sample meal plan gives you an idea of what healthy eating might look like for a pregnant woman.

 

Get Your Body Moving

Staying active during pregnancy will help keep your weight gain in the healthy range. Regular activity also boosts your energy levels, helps you sleep better, and keeps you strong for labor and delivery. Here are a few active tips:

  • Do at least a little activity every day and start slowly – even 10 minutes helps. Gradually add more activity into your day.
  • Enjoy simple activities like going for a brisk walk or dancing to your favourite music.
  • Find a pregnancy exercise video that you can do in the comfort of your home.
  • Look for classes or activities in your neighborhood for pregnant women – like yoga or aqua fitness. Being active with other pregnant women can help keep you motivated and energized.

*Remember: Check with your health care provider before starting a new physical activity program, especially if you weren’t active before getting pregnant.

 

How can I find more information?

For more advice on healthy weight gain during pregnancy, contact a Registered Dietitian at EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2 or send us an email.

 

You may also be interested in:

Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

Pre-Pregnancy Healthy Eating Checklist.

The Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, Public Health Agency of Canada

Healthy Pregnancy Quiz, Public Health Agency of Canada

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Copyright © Dietitians of Canada 2014. All rights reserved.

Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.