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Weight, Nutrition, Hydration and Exercise

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It’s really important to get yourself into the best possible shape prior to falling pregnant. Regular exercise is important as is a healthy low carb low fat diet.

Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. Anything you can do to optimise your BMI prior to conceiving is associated with minimising the risk of complications of pregnancy and birth for both you and your baby. In fact having a healthy BMI at the time you conceive is much more important for your health and that of your baby than how many kilograms of weight you gain (or don’t gain) throughout your pregnancy.

Being obese (which is the same as having an increased BMI) during pregnancy is associated with increased risks of a number of complications of pregnancy including Gestational Diabetes and High Blood Pressure in pregnancy. Women with higher BMIs are more likely to have a bigger baby and experience complicated labours and birth, along with a greater likelihood of requiring a caesarean section. There is a greater risk of blood clots (Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism) after birth amongst women with an increased BMI.

So your BMI is really important, especially around the time you conceive.

You should enjoy a variety of nutritious foods from the following food groups every day:

  • Vegetables and legumes / beans
  • Fruit
  • Grains and cereals
  • Lean meats and other proteins such as cooked eggs
  • Milk and other – reduced fat – dairy products.

It is best to limit your intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt and sugar. You should avoid soft drinks, cordials, fruit juices, energy and sports drinks.

Taking an appropriate amount of folic acid for three months prior to conception and throughout the first trimester of pregnancy significantly reduces the risk of your baby suffering from a Neural Tube Defect (NTD). NTDs include spina bifida and other related conditions. Authorities recommend you take a supplement that includes at least 0.5 mg of folic acid per day although obese women, those on certain medications and women with a personal or family history of NTDs require even more folic acid (5 mg per day). It is important to also choose foods high in folic acid such as fresh green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, legumes, nuts and fortified cereals along with organ meats. 

Nutrition in Pregnancy

Experts recommend that the dietary energy requirements for non-pregnant women range between around 8,000 and 10,000 kilojoules (kJ) per day. The variation in these figures is accounted for by different levels of physical activity. The additional energy requirements for pregnancy are:

  • First trimester No additional requirement (the baby is still tiny)
  • Second trimester Additional 1,400 kJ per day
  • Third trimester Additional 1,900 kJ per day

Women often ask about what is the normal expected weight gain in pregnancy. Your goals for total weight gain in pregnancy depend upon your prepregnancy BMI as follows:

BMI at the time of conception:

Total pregnancy weight gain goal (singleton pregnancy):

18.5 – 24.9

11.5 – 16 kg

25 – 29 (overweight like me)

7.5 – 11.5 kg

30 or more (obese)

5 – 9 kg

You can see that the higher your BMI, the less weight you should gain in over the course of your pregnancy.

We strongly recommend that you attempt to consume a low fat low carb diet in pregnancy. You should enjoy a variety of nutritious foods from the following food groups every day:

  • Vegetables and legumes / beans
  • Fruit
  • Grains and cereals
  • Lean meats and other proteins such as cooked eggs
  • Milk and other – reduced fat – dairy products.

It is best to limit your intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt and sugar. You should avoid soft drinks, cordials, fruit juices, energy and sports drinks.

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