Weight management in pregnancy

Obesity in pregnancy can have a big impact on both you and your baby. We’ve put together some tips to help you manage your weight in pregnancy.

In an ideal world it’s recommended all women are of a healthy weight before falling pregnant.

But if you’re overweight and expecting, experts say it’s not the best time to try to lose weight.

Should I lose weight if I’m overweight?

Bupa’s accredited practising dietitian Christine Wong says that in general, women shouldn’t try to lose weight when they’re pregnant. But Wong says all women should consult their doctor about how to manage their weight while pregnant.

“Once a woman is pregnant it’s best that she doesn’t focus on losing weight, it’s more about making sure she gets the right amount of nutrients for her and her baby.”

“It’s perfectly normal for all women to gain weight during pregnancy,” she says.

However, Wong says women in a higher weight range (BMI >25) should aim to put on less weight in their pregnancy than other women.

It’s recommended women who are a healthy weight (BMI 18.5-24.9) shouldn’t put on more than 11.5-16 kg, while obese women (BMI >30) shouldn’t put on more than(5-9kg).

Obesity and fertility

Obesity can have an impact on a woman’s normal ovulation cycle, and in turn, it can affect her ability to fall pregnant naturally.

Excess weight can also have an impact on the effectiveness of IVF (in vitro fertilisation).

“If a woman is overweight during pregnancy it does also increase the risk of miscarriage [and problems during labour],” says Wong.

Wong says women should consult their GP when planning a family to assess their overall health.

The risks 

Obese pregnant women are at greater risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, infection and overdue pregnancy.

It’s important to see your GP about the best way to manage your pregnancy and any other medical conditions.

pregnant woman eating a salad

Focus foods

Wong says it’s important to eat a good balance of nutrient-rich foods including:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Low fat dairy products
  • Cooked fish and lean meats
  • Drink lots of water

Avoid

  • Unhealthy processed snacks high in sugar and fat eg. Chips and chocolate
  • Any alcohol
  • Raw and processed fish and meats
  • Soft cheeses and unpasteurised dairy products

It’s also recommended pregnant women do 30 minutes of daily moderate intensity exercise, but see a doctor before starting any new fitness regime.

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