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Healthy Weight In Pregnancy

Being a healthy weight during pregnancy reduces the risk of complications.

If you are able to get to a healthy weight before becoming pregnant this is best for you and your baby.

You should not feel embarrassed or judged about your weight. Health professionals support women of all shapes and sizes. Attending all of your antenatal appointments is very important to make sure any problems are spotted early and you get the right care for you.

If you are overweight or underweight at your first appointment with your midwife they will be able to give you support and advice about how best to keep you and your baby well in pregnancy.

You may also be referred for specialist support from the hospital maternity team. Healthy weight is assessed using BMI (body mass index) Find out more *here*. A healthy BMI is between 18.5–25.  

Weight gained in pregnancy is not ‘just baby’ it is also made up of;

  • Placenta
  • Fluid around the baby
  • Extra blood volume
  • Breast size increase.

In the UK there is no fixed advice on how much weight you ‘should’ put on in pregnancy. Advice about weight gain can be discussed with your midwife taking into account your individual needs.   

  • Being underweight in pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight and early delivery (before 37 weeks).

    If you have a low BMI your midwife will talk to you about this. They will ask;

    • If you feel well and healthy
    • If you have always been of a low weight or if it is something new that needs checking out
    • About your eating habits, likes and dislikes
    • They will also ask you about your own thoughts and feelings about your weight.

    Some people have eating disorders that affect their body image and this can make the body changes in pregnancy feel particularly hard. If this is true for you let the team know so that you can be supported.

    You may be given advice to help you gain weight in a healthy way and your midwife will discuss any extra care you may need during your pregnancy with you.

    Look at our ‘Eat Well in Pregnancy’ page.

  • You may have heard that being overweight in pregnancy increases some risks to you and your baby.

    It is important that you get the right support from the start to keep risks as low as possible.

    • Book an appointment with your midwife as early as you can
    • Don’t give yourself a hard time - the team will talk openly to you about the care you will get and what you can do to keep well
    • Don’t put yourself on a diet -it might make it harder to get all the different vitamins and minerals you and your baby need.

    Eating healthily and being active will help to keep your weight gain in check. It will help keep the risks from being overweight as low as possible.

    The reason this is so important is because being overweight in pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. It also makes it more likely you will have your baby early.

    Overweight mums to be are more likely to get a type of diabetes that begins in pregnancy (gestational diabetes).

    The risk of pre-eclampsia and blood clots is higher if you are overweight.

    You might have less choice about how you give birth – there is a higher chance of caesarean section.

    Your midwifery team will keep a closer eye on you to spot any problems early. They will talk to you and explain how you can minimise these risks.

  • Although partners are not carrying a baby – expecting a baby can be a good time for both parents to think together about healthy eating and having an active lifestyle.

    • This is a great way to support your pregnant partner to keep well in pregnancy
    • It gets you both on track to be good role models to your baby from the very beginning.

    *Click here* for information and ideas on healthy lifestyles. Take a look together and plan a healthy start for your family life – small changes can make a big difference.

Who can Help?

If you feel worried and want more advice you can speak to your midwife.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

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