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Fast Facts - Nutrition and Weight Gain in Pregnancy

How much weight should I gain in pregnancy?

This depends largely on your weight at the beginning of pregnancy but as a general guide based on BMI the “target” weight gains (for a singleton pregnancy, no diabetes) are as follows

  • Underweight (BMI <18.5) – 12.5-18kg
  • Normal (BMI 18.5-24.9) – 11.5-16kg
  • Overweight (BMI 25-29.9) – 7-11.5kg
  • Obese (BMI >30) – 5-9kg)

Overall caloric intake only needs to increase by 10-25% as your pregnancy progresses (you’re never really eating for two!).

What makes up the weight gain in pregnancy?

  • 40% of weight gain is baby and placenta
  • 60% of weight gain is due to changes in the mother’s body (extra blood volume, fluid etc)

What impact can dietary intake and weight have on pregnancy?

  • More calories in generally equates to higher weight gain (unless balanced by increased exercise)
  • Higher maternal weight is associated with a higher risk of
    • Gestational diabetes
    • Pre-eclampsia
    • Babies who are large for gestational age or macrosomic
    • Childhood obesity
  • Poor nutrition and inadequate energy intake is associated with
    • Low birth weight babies
    • Increased risk of adult metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes in low birth weight babies

What about pregnancy supplements and vitamins?

There is good evidence for supplementing the following

  • Folic acid to protect against neural tube defects (e.g. spina bifida)
    • 0.5 mg daily for 3 months pre-pregnancy and for the first 3 months of pregnancy in the general population
    • 5 mg daily for 3 months pre-pregnancy and for the first 3 months of pregnancy for women at higher risk (personal or family history)
  • Iodine which is necessary for the developing brain and nervous system
  • Calcium for women with calcium poor diets or who are at high risk for developing pre-eclampsia

There is currently limited evidence to support supplementation with

  • Vitamins A, B6, B12, E, or D
  • Iron in iron replete women

What sort of a diet should I adopt when pregnant?

A generally healthy and well balanced diet is recommended which includes

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • High quality carbohydrates
  • Protein from lean meats, fish, beans
  • Small amounts of sugar, red meat and processed foods

Where can I get more information?

You can always talk to your doctor about general recommendations. In some cases, specific dietary advice may be necessary from a qualified dietitian.

A good broad overview can be found at


Ref: Lowensohn, R et al. Current Concepts of Maternal Nutrition. Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey. 2016;71 (7):413-426

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Greenslopes Obstetrics & Gynaecology is closely aligned with the Greenslopes Private Hospital which opened Brisbane’s newest maternity facility in February 2013.

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To speak directly with a team member please call 07 3188 5000