Avoid putting on too much weight when you're pregnant
When you’re pregnant, aim to put on a healthy amount of weight – not too much and not too little. If you gain too much it can be more difficult to lose it afterwards. It can also put you at risk of high blood pressure, or needing more help from a doctor when your baby is born.
Weight during pregnancy
True or false?
- 1. I need to eat for two
False. Some people say you need to ‘eat for two’, but this isn’t true – and could mean you put on too much weight. You do not need any extra calories in your first six months of pregnancy. In the last three months you will need an extra 200 calories a day, which is about two slices of bread. Not everyone will need to eat extra food to meet these needs.
- 2. It's safe for pregnant women to exercise
True. It is safe and healthy for mum and baby to keep active in pregnancy. Benefits include helping you to sleep better and getting a better oxygen flow to your baby. If you are not sure about exercising, talk to your midwife.
- 3. Eating one meal a day is a good way to manage my weight
False. Eating regularly stops you from getting too hungry. You will be less likely to snack on high calorie foods, or to over eat at your next meal. Eating regularly will help you avoid feeling out of control with your eating.
- 4. Some types of exercise are not safe for pregnant women
True. Although it is healthy and safe for most pregnant women to exercise, there are some activities that are best avoided.
- Contact sports where there is a risk you could be hit, like football, rugby, hockey, or squash
- Activities where there is a risk of falling, like skiing and horse riding
- Scuba diving
- Exercise at high altitude
Don’t exercise lying flat on your back, especially after 16 weeks, because you may feel faint. If you were not active before getting pregnant, start off slowly. If you join a class, don’t forget to tell the instructor you’re pregnant.
Limit yourself to 15 minutes of continuous exercise three times a week to start with. Increase this gradually to at least four 30 minute sessions a week. If you are not sure about exercising, talk to your midwife.
- 5. Breastfeeding can help women return to their pre-pregnancy weight
True. Breastfeeding has been shown to help mums go back to a healthy weight after pregnancy. It uses up extra calories, especially when you give your baby breast milk only.
- 6. I need to have full fat or 'blue top' milk to help my baby's bones develop
False. Calcium in milk and other dairy products helps you and your growing baby build strong bones. But you don’t need to choose full fat milk during pregnancy. Semi-skimmed and skimmed milk have just as much calcium, but have less fat and are a healthier option.
- 7. I will put on too much weight if I eat potatoes, bread, pasta and rice
False. There is no evidence that these foods will make you gain weight more than any other food. Having too many calories overall is what can cause weight gain. These foods are an important energy source for you and your growing baby, and also contain fibre and vitamins.
- 8. Pregnant women need to take some vitamins
True. Women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. This helps the baby’s spine to develop normally, and protects against spina bifida or neural tube defects.
All pregnant women should consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day, and also when breastfeeding. This helps to make sure babies’ bones develop normally, and helps protect mums’ bones too. Some women can get these vitamins free of charge from Healthy Start through their midwife. Some women may be advised by their doctor or midwife to take extra vitamins. Make sure you avoid supplements that are not made for pregnant women. They could be harmful to your baby because they contain large amounts of vitamin A, for example.
- 9. I need to eat chocolate, sweets and sugary drinks for energy
False. You don’t need to eat or drink sweet things to provide extra energy. Sugary foods and drinks are often high in calories and low in other nutrients.
- 10. Eating low fat foods will help me to manage my weight
False. Foods labelled as ‘low fat’ or ‘fat free’ are not always low in calories, and they can sometimes be higher in things like sugar.
- 11. You should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
True. Fruit and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. They are high in fibre, vitamins and the minerals that we all need. Fresh, frozen, tinned and dried fruit and vegetables all count, and can be just as nutritious as fresh fruit and veg. They are also handy to keep in the freezer or cupboard at home.