Opinions of Weight Management when Pregnant

Maternity Care

Tammy George

Many expectant mums are concerned about their weight during pregnancy. It’s a common question they ask their doctor. But the answer may be different for one pregnant woman to the next. So how much weight should you expect to gain during a healthy pregnancy?

For pregnant mums with a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) before falling pregnant, they should aim to put on no more than 11.5-16 kg but women who are obese before pregnancy should aim for a weight gain of no more than 5-9 kg.

Why Worry About your Weight

For some women, being pregnant is one of the rare times in their adult life that they feel they can relax about their weight. Since their teens, they have counted calories and worried about getting plenty of exercise to stay slim. They think pregnancy is the perfect excuse to have a break.

But here are some of the reasons why you should keep your weight in check.

Gestational Diabetes

Women who put on excessive weight during pregnancy are at risk of developing gestational diabetes. The dangerous condition means their body is unable to produce enough insulin to balance the glucose levels in their blood. Mums are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life after having gestational diabetes.

Difficult Labour

One of the reasons doctors keep a check on weight gain during pregnancy is that excessive weight gain can lead to a difficult labour. For most women labour is physically demanding, so you need to be in the best possible condition to give birth. Also, overweight mothers often give birth to big babies and an emergency caesarean may be necessary if the baby is unable to be born naturally.

It’s Hard to Lose

Don’t be fooled, baby weight isn’t any easier to shift. Sure you might lose some weight through breastfeeding and walk with the pram every day, but it will take some work. Nine months of reckless eating could take many months to lose. It’s quite likely you are going to be sleep deprived with a newborn and busy taking care of your baby. Some days exercising will be furthest from your mind.

Baby’s Health

Big babies may be at greater risk of diabetes and obesity during childhood and throughout their adult life.

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What You Can Do

A healthy lifestyle comes back to diet and exercise whether you are pregnant or not.

Exercise

Most women are recommended to continue with 30 minutes of daily exercise during pregnancy, but if you weren’t exercising before pregnancy, it’s not a good idea to start on a rigorous training schedule. Consult your doctor before undertaking any new exercise.

Healthy Diet     

Eating a diet of nutrient-rich food will ensure you feel satisfied and you're getting the vitamins and minerals you need to nourish you are your baby.

Include the following in your diet:

  • Fruit and vegetables

  • Low-fat dairy

  • Lean meats

  • Cooked fish (2-3 serves per week of salmon or tuna but no more than 1 serve per fortnight of shark, swordfish or marlin due to potentially high mercury levels)

  • Wholegrain cereals

By filling up on these healthy foods, you should feel less inclined to indulge in foods that have empty calories. The odd treat is fine but don’t eat too many of the following:

Processed snack foods high in sugar and fat

High fat foods

High sugar chocolate, cakes, muffins and icecream

Due to the risk of listeria, don’t eat the following foods:

Soft cheese

Unwashed salad ingredients

Raw fish

Processed meats

You shouldn't consume alcohol while pregnant but instead keep up your fluids up by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.  

If you have any queries about what foods you should eat or how to maintain a healthy weight while pregnant, ask your doctor or midwife.

HIF Maternity Cover

The years spent creating your family are when you rely most on quality hospital cover. Take a look at the benefits included in HIF’s Maternity Cover and enjoy peace of mind knowing you have the right health cover when you need it most. 

Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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