What is a healthy weight gain during pregnancy?

The latest NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidance, released in July 2010, says that:

  • Women who are a normal weight for their height (BMI 18.5–24.9) should gain 11.5–16 kg during pregnancy.
  • Overweight women (BMI 25–29.9) should gain 7–11.5 kg
  • Obese women (BMI greater than 30) should only put on 5–9 kg.

So try not to pack on more than this, otherwise you’ll still be left with a lot of weight to shift when your baby is born – this isn’t healthy for either of you. Try not to weigh yourself too often. Focus more on how your body looks and feels and remember that lean muscle weighs more than fat.

Where Does the Extra Weight Go During Pregnancy?

You’ll be pleased to hear that the weight you are putting on is not all sitting on your hips ready to bulge over the top of your fave jeans once you have had your baby. Here is a rough idea of where the weight goes:

Baby: 8 pounds

Placenta: 2-3 pounds

Amniotic fluid: 2-3 pounds

Breasts: 2-3 pounds

Blood: 4 pounds

Stored fat: 5-9 pounds

Uterus growth: 2-5 pounds

Total: 25-35 pounds

Remember that everyone is different and you may gain more or less than this.

My app PregnancyFit 250 is live on the apple App store!

I can’t believe it – after months of hard work writing and developing the app it is now live for everyone to buy around the world! I wrote the app to be a useful tool for women in pregnancy; not just about exercise (although there are tons of tips about exercise!) but also about making sure you are getting all the right elements in your diet, you know what is going on with your (often strange) body and are mentally and practically prepared for the challenges ahead. I hope you like it and share it with your friends. More detail below…..

All the information you need for a fit, healthy pregnancy.

This pregnancy app gives you a daily tip, fact or snippet covering EVERYTHING you need to know about exercise, diet, staying sane, lifestyle and your body during pregnancy. You can view one a day, read them all in one go, search for something you are interested in or browse by category. Most tips are related to that point of your pregnancy, some are just plain interesting!

Includes:

  • what types of exercise are safe during pregnancy, including classes, types, equipment and how much you can do safely
  • exercise ideas
  • what you should and shouldn’t eat
  • common ailments and advice
  • what to expect from your changing body
  • lifestyle tips
  • recommendations for health, fitness and nutrition
  • postnatal advice
  • ideas to calm your mind
  • tips about labour and birth
  • practical tips
  • five myths busted

Tips are divided into five categories:

  • Body and common ailments
  • Exercise and fitness
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Headspace and wellbeing
  • Lifestyle and practical

You can read what a Midwife of 20 years said and see some example tips on the app page.

Want a baby? Get eating avocados!

New research indicates a diet containing lots of monounsaturated fat – found in avocados, olive oil, as well as peanuts, almonds and cashews – can as much as triple the chance of success in women resorting to fertility treatment to conceive. Specialists believe such a diet could help the majority of women wanting to get pregnant naturally as well.

By contrast eating lots of saturated fat, found in dairy products and red meat, appears to damage women’s fertility. High saturated fat intake has already been linked to lower sperm counts.

I think…..

It is great to hear that eating these foods can have such a positive impact on fertility, although more research is needed. I would suggest that we all try to eat more of these foods anyway!! The foods outlined in the study should be an essential part of good diet and have a huge variety of health benefits. Just remember they are great for you, but are still fats and can therefore be high calorie. Ditch the junk and eat as part of a balanced diet (maybe work in a few extra if you are trying for a baby – salmon and avocado salad all round!!)

Research published in the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine

Here is more evidence that exercise and a healthy diet during pregnancy are beneficial to both mum and baby.

Click here to view the article

In summary: Low or moderate exercise and healthy eating habits markedly decrease the likelihood of excessive gestational weight gain, according to research published in the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. This study, in the August edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, demonstrates that a prenatal Nutrition and Exercise Lifestyle Intervention Program, called the NELIP, was successful in preventing excessive gestational weight gain and reducing postpartum weight retention in women who were of normal weight prior to pregnancy.

A quote from the study:

“Women benefit greatly from being active throughout their pregnancies and physical activity is strongly recommended by professional organizations. However, most pregnant women remain inactive and this may be contributing to excessive gestational weight gain, which is associated with an increased risk for future obesity in both the mother and offspring,” said lead author Stephanie-May Ruchat, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Western Ontario. “Myths about nutrition in pregnancy can also be misleading. For example, mothers-to-be should be warned that ‘eating for two’ does not mean they need to eat twice as much but that they should eat twice as healthy. An increase of only 200 to 500 kilocalories per day in the second and third trimester is recommended, depending on the body mass index of the women prior to pregnancy (the heavier the woman is, the fewer extra calories per day she will need during pregnancy).”

Evidence is growing all the time. I hope this ever growing bank of positive research can start to give women across the world confidence and motivation to stay fit and healthy and not gain too much excess weight during pregnancy.

 

Nutrients and healthy eating in pregnancy

This post will give you some idea about the nutrients you need to consider when you are trying to conceive or are pregnant. You don’t have to eat for two, but you do have to pay more attention to your diet toy make sure you and your baby are getting the goodness you need.

This is taken from the BBC web site which has loads more about healthy eating for conception and pregnancy:

Energy

Most of the extra calories needed in pregnancy are required in the last three months It’s estimated you need around 300 kcals extra each day. If you’re less active during the last three months of pregnancy, this may mean you need very little extra food, because you’re not expending as much energy. If you continue to stay active, a snack of a couple of slices of toast with spread and a glass of milk or a yoghurt may be all you need.

Protein

Most people eat more than enough protein so there’s no need to increase your protein intake. Try to follow healthy eating principles and include some lean meat, fish or poultry, dairy products, grains, nuts and pulses in your meals.

Fibre

It’s particularly important to eat more fibre in pregnancy to avoid the common niggles ofconstipation and piles (haemorrhoids). Increase your fibre intake by eating fruit and vegetables, wholemeal bread and cereals, brown rice, wholemeal pasta and pulses. You should also drink more fluids because increasing fibre intake without enough liquid can make constipation worse.

Folic acid

Mothers who lack sufficient folic acid before conception and in early pregnancy are at increased risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect (NTD), such as spina bifida.

From the moment you start trying to conceive until the end of week 12 of your pregnancy, you should take a daily 400 microgram supplement of folic acid. Women with a history of NTDs should be prescribed a 5mg supplement.

These supplements should be in addition to dietary intake, which should be about 200 micrograms per day. You can boost your folic acid intake by choosing foods such as:

  • Green leafy vegetables – cabbage, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, spring greens, kale, okra and fresh peas.
  • Pulses – chickpeas, black-eyed beans and lentils
  • Fortified breakfast cereals.
  • Wholemeal and wholegrain breads and rolls or those fortified with folic acid.

Folic acid is easily lost during cooking, so steam vegetables or cook in only a little water for a short time to retain as much goodness as possible. Supermarkets and food manufacturers often identify good sources of folic acid with a special label. Look out for these next time you go shopping.

Iron

Your iron levels will be measured throughout pregnancy, and if they’re found to be low you’ll be prescribed an iron supplement. Pregnant women should try to maintain a good iron intake from their diet to obtain the other nutrients in these foods.

Good sources of iron can be split into two categories: meat-based (haem) and plant-based (non-haem). The body doesn’t absorb iron from non-meat foods as easily as it does from meat sources. However, you can enhance iron absorption by including a source of vitamin C with your meal. Tannins found in black tea reduce the absorption. So, it’s better to have a glass of orange juice with your bowl of cereal in the morning rather than a cup of tea.

Vitamin A

Too much vitamin A can build up in the liver and harm an unborn baby. So, although liver and liver products, such as paté and liver sausage, are good sources of iron, their high concentrations of vitamin A have led the UK Department of Health to advise pregnant women and women trying to conceive to avoid liver and liver products.

Some vitamin supplements and fish liver oil supplements are high in vitamin A, so always choose a specially prepared pregnancy supplement if you take one.

Vitamin C

Eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods to help you use iron effectivelyGood sources include citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and lemons), blackcurrants, strawberries, kiwi fruit, peppers, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables. Aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day; a drink of fruit or vegetable juice counts as one portion.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for forming and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It’s found in only a few foods, including fortified margarines and reduced-fat spreads, some fortified breakfast cereals, oily fish and meat. A small amount can also be found in milk and eggs. The body also makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

Current recommendations are that pregnant women should take a 10 microgram supplement of vitamin D every day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women with dark skin, or those who always cover their skin, are at particular risk of a vitamin D deficiency.

Calcium

Your needs for calcium double during pregnancy, and are particularly high during the last ten weeks when calcium is being laid down in your baby’s bones. Your body adapts to absorb more calcium from foods eaten, so you don’t actually need to eat more of it in late pregnancy, as long as it’s present in your diet anyway.

Continue to ensure your diet has milk and dairy foods such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais. Official advice is to have three servings every day – and typical servings include a glass of milk, milk with cereal, a small matchbox size chunk of hard cheese or a small pot of yoghurt (125g to 150g). Other sources of calcium include bread, green vegetables, canned fish with soft, edible bones (salmon, sardines and pilchards), dried apricots, sesame seeds, tofu, fortified orange juice and fortified soya milk.