safe motherhood



There's an enormous variation in the amount of weight women put on during pregnancy. Research has shown that a woman's weight gain can range from practically nothing to up to 23kg, and still have a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby. Each individual woman's weight gain will depend on her own individual metabolism and her own individual needs.

What makes up the extra weight?

• Your baby.
• Your baby's support system - the placenta, amniotic fluid, your enlarged uterus, your extra blood supply.
• Your enlarged breasts.
• Extra fluid, which is needed to make your body soft and stretchy so it will 'give' when your baby is born.
• Extra fat, which provides a back-up energy store in case you're not able to take in enough food during the pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Too little?

Low weight gain may be a sign that the baby isn't growing properly. But as it's impossible to separate out the different things that make up your extra weight, weight gain on its own isn't a reliable indication of how well your baby is growing.

Too much?

If you put on a lot of weight, especially in later pregnancy, it may be because you're retaining a lot of fluid - this can be a sign of pre-eclampsia. However, this is only the case if you also have high blood pressure. Having your blood pressure measured is a much more reliable way of monitoring for pre-eclampsia than having your weight checked.

Don't try to slim

• Aim for a varied diet with plenty of fresh foods.
• Add extra portions of bread, cereals, fruit and vegetables to your diet, rather than chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks.
• If you don't feel like eating much, make a point of drinking a lot. You can get considerable amounts of nutrients from fruit juice and milk-based drinks.