Ask the Expert: How much weight is it healthy for me to gain during pregnancy?

It's natural to be concerned about your food intake and how much weight you could gain

Q: I'M three months pregnant and am usually a normal weight. How much weight is it healthy to gain during my pregnancy?

A: Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, says: "It's natural to be concerned about your food intake and how much weight you could gain. A recent survey of women by the Royal College of Midwives and Slimming World shows there's confusion about this issue.

"There are no formal recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy in the UK as there are in the USA, and this can give rise to confusion and uncertainty. However, modest weight gain is thought to be important during pregnancy. Your weight will increase because of the weight of the baby and the placenta, as well as the extra body fluid, blood, fat stores and tissue your body builds to protect your baby. These amount to around 10-12kg (1.5 - 1.9st) in total for women of normal weight before pregnancy.

"If you're overweight or obese, so long as you're eating a varied and balanced diet, it may be a lesser amount.

"The amount of weight gain during pregnancy varies between individuals, Currently in the UK, women aren't routinely weighed while pregnant though they'll normally be weighed at their first booking appointment. If a woman is obese at her first antenatal visit, she's more likely to be weighed at each visit.

"It's important to be aware of your weight before and during pregnancy and to manage it safely. Excess weight in pregnancy (either being obese before pregnancy or gaining too much weight) is linked to an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, gestational diabetes and stillbirth, among other serious health issues.

"Don't worry if you're pregnant and overweight. Speak to your midwife and they'll be able to advise you about managing your weight and can refer you to support services.

"What's important in pregnancy isn't a focus on losing weight but on eating a varied and balanced diet, while avoiding a reliance on energy-dense foods. Such a diet is, on average, around 2,000 calories per day, with about 200 more per day in the last few months of pregnancy.

"This is a very small amount of extra food and there's little need to worry about consciously eating more as your appetite will let you know how much to eat. It's equivalent to half a pint of whole milk, three eggs or an avocado.

"If you exercise, this amount may need to be increased. The common idea of 'eating for two' in pregnancy is a myth and the focus should be on eating healthily and adopting or carrying on with a healthy lifestyle."

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