Pregnancy weight gain: how much is too much?

Pregnancy weight gain: how much is too much?

It’s one of the most common questions women ask their doctors during pregnancy – how much weight is it ok to put on?

But the answer is not that simple, says Obstetrician Dr Vicki Woodward.

“People always want to have a number and to stick that in their head but it’s a little bit more complex than that,” Dr Woodward says. 

“A woman with a BMI (body mass index) of 18 is different to a woman with a BMI of 35. 

“We now know that it’s actually quite safe for women in the upper ranges of BMI not to put quite as much weight on in their pregnancy.”

Dr Woodward says it’s ok for some women with higher BMI to put almost no weight on as long as their obstetrician or midwife is watching the growth of the baby to make sure it’s growing appropriately.

“Then with women on the lower end of the BMI scale, we are more tolerant of a bigger weight gain in pregnancy,” she says.

Women also tend to put more weight on during their first pregnancy than in their second. 

“We’d say roughly for first pregnancies 9 to 18 kilograms and perhaps 6 to 12 kilograms for your second – but as I say it’s a little bit more complicated than just a broad range,” she says.

Instead of fixating on a number of the scales, Dr Woodward says the most important thing is to eat well and stay active during your pregnancy.

Dr Vicki Woodward is a Melbourne Obstetrician, keen runner and mother of three.

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