Now that you are pregnant, the foods that you choose not only have an impact on your own body and health but also impact your baby’s growth, development and future health.

Pregnancy is not the right time to be dieting or worrying about your weight but it is a good time to start thinking about eating well and to make changes to your diet if there is some room for improvement. After all, it is not only you that you are thinking about now! The nutrition that your baby receives from you during pregnancy affects their growth now but it also can have long lasting effects on their future health – even into adulthood. Although now is not a time to diet, it is also not an excuse to eat for two! This is a phrase we often hear but really it is more about eating twice as well rather than twice as much.

It is more about eating twice as well rather than twice as much.

Ideally you should try to maintain a healthy weight before becoming pregnant. Being either underweight or overweight can have an impact on yours and your baby’s health. As it is not recommended to try to lose weight during pregnancy, if you are overweight it means that you should gain a little less than the average weight gain expected during pregnancy and if you are underweight you should gain a little more.

The table below will give a rough guideline of how much weight you should gain depending on your pre-pregnancy BMI. Remember that this is just an average guideline and you should always discuss your individual circumstances with your healthcare professional.

Pre-pregnancy BMI Total weight gain (kg) Total weight gain (lbs)
Underweight < 18.5kg/m2 12.5 – 18.0 28 – 40
Normal weight 18.5-24.9kg/m2   11.5 – 16.0 25 – 35
Overweight 25-29.9kg/m2 7.0 – 11.5 15 – 25
Obese > 30kg/m2 5.0 – 9.0 11 – 20

Source: Best Practice for infant feeding in Ireland, FSAI 2011

Most of this weight is put on after 20 weeks. The extra weight gain is due to your baby growing and your body will also store a certain amount of fat ready for when you are breastfeeding your baby.

your weight during pregnancy

Things to consider:

  • Include a wide range of healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrain cereals and breads, low fat dairy foods and lean meat and fish
  • Cut back on the sweet treats as they can add extra pounds but don’t have much to offer nutritionally
  • Use the food pyramid as your guide for a healthy balanced diet
  • Keep an eye on portion sizes
  • Make some simple healthy swaps such as swapping fizzy drinks for water and full fat milk for skimmed milk
  • Regular exercise can help keep you fit and in shape so make time for some gentle exercise you enjoy
  • Although you don’t need to eat for two you need a small amount of extra calories per day in your second and third trimesters. Find out more here.
  • For some healthy recipe ideas check out our pregnancy recipe section here.

Here's what you need to know next

Exercising while pregnant