If you’re reading this, the likelihood is you’re expecting. Congratulations! You might have also done a quick Google search to find a weight gain pregnancy calculator. Here’s why this is not a good idea…

So your body is also about to go through one of its biggest transitions. And unfortunately, you’re likely to experience an unprecedented level of social surveillance and commentary about how much weight you should be gaining in pregnancy. Colleagues, friends, family, even medical professionals might suggest you haven’t put on enough weight, or that perhaps, you’ve gained too much. The internet offers an abundance of weight gain calculators, judging your “health” by your weight gain. File this under: all the ways women can’t win.

So how much weight should you be gaining in pregnancy? Let’s dive into it.

Why is pregnancy weight important?

It seems unhelpful, even irresponsible to set a singular pregnancy weight gain to a limitless number of female bodies and experiences (i.e. with the use of a weight gain pregnancy calculator). Let’s be real: there is no more an ideal pregnancy weight gain than there is an ideal baby – or mother for that matter. But, why doctors track weight comes down to medical indicators – not gaining weight can be dangerous to the developing foetus, and rapid weight increases can signal health risks like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. 

But in a culture where women often feel ‘too fat’ or ‘too thin’ whether pregnant or not, or perhaps have a difficult relationship with their body, it’s problematic. In fact, the UK actually phased out pregnancy weight gain monitoring in the 90s citing the unnecessary stress it puts on women. 

If you browse the web you come across queries, such as:

  • How to stop gaining weight while pregnant
  • 15 weeks pregnant no weight gain
  • I don’t look pregnant
  • Feeling fat at 6 weeks pregnant
  • I feel fat not pregnant

I know personally and also from my Back to Basics Pregnancy App, countless stories of women leaving a checkup in tears. If you have a history of disordered eating or tricky relationship with your body, advocate for yourself. Ask your midwife or obstetrician not to weigh you if you’ll find it triggering to be told to eat less and gain less weight. I certainly did. Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health. 

Talking about mental health…

Physical activity can improve your mental well-being and can also help you sleep. I’ve prepared a selection of FREE trimester-specific workouts from my app, safe for you and bub. The prenatal pilates and yoga sessions I’ve selected for you are fun, doable, and only require as little as 20 minutes to get you nice and strong, ready to carry your load around.

If you haven’t tried the workouts yet, get them now. I bet they’ll make you feel amazing. Click HERE to get started.

Get my free trimester-specific workout series. Image: Lyndi Cohen
Want some FREE, trimester-specific workouts to boost your mental health during pregnancy? (so much more fun than googling a weight gain pregnancy calculator) Image: Lyndi Cohen

What is a blind weigh-in?

Another option is to choose to have a blind weigh-in. That is, the doctor or midwife knows the weight, but you ask not to be privy to it. This can help them still monitor the baby’s weight gain and look for signs of pre-eclampsia, or other health concerns.

So when choosing your team, I urge you to tell your doctor and midwife about past or present eating disorders so they can be mindful of it – comfort, support and understand you. Well, the good ones will. Because your mental health is just as important as the physical health of your baby.

The baby is only the size of a sweet potato, so why do I feel so huge?

Apart from your baby growing from tiny blueberry to juicy watermelon size, your body is also developing extra tissue to house and feed this life you’re making. Among a number of things both your boobs and uterus will grow bigger (enormous it felt like in my case). Plus your body is producing extra blood and amniotic fluid around the baby, on top of also growing the placenta. 

What’s considered “normal” weight gain? Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, a resource provided by the Australian government, reports how much weight you gain will also depend on how much you weighed before your pregnancy. Women with a lower body weight tend to gain more, whereas those like me, who started at a higher weight, tend to gain less. Whether you’re carrying twins, or have nasty morning sickness can also impact weight gain (hello nausea). In other words, “normal” has a number of factors that influence it.

Forget the weight gain pregnancy calculator and give yourself a high five every time you use that activewear for more than just watching telly on the couch. Image: Lyndi Cohen
Forget the weight gain pregnancy calculator and give yourself a high five every time you use that activewear for more than just watching telly on the couch. Image: Lyndi Cohen

What about eating for two?

Healthy habits and diversity of food are more important when it comes to gaining a healthy amount of pregnancy weight, which when you’re experiencing cravings for chocolate custard and pickles, is a superhuman effort. 

Current healthy pregnancy diet advice warns against “eating for two” but also recommends not dieting during pregnancy. It feels like a lose, lose. As a dietitian, I recommend eating when you need to – however frequently that is and at whatever time of day. If you’re after more guidance, my Back to Basics Pregnancy App can help offering a pregnancy (and postnatal) program including trimester based workouts, preggo-friendly recipes and expert women’s health advice.

And if you worry that you might put something in your body that isn’t safe for bub, download my FREE Pregnancy Food List. It’ll help you guide your food choices during pregnancy and takes the stress out of confirming what’s safe and what’s not.

Get my free pregnancy food list. Image: Lyndi Cohen
Constantly questioning whether the foods you eat are safe?

Aim for eating omega 3s through oily fish when you can (this baked salmon with tahini yoghurt and pine nuts recipe is a winner). Also, we know our body is craving carbs, so any time you can get a nutritional win here and choose wholegrain options, is great. It might also help to give a mental check of your weekly diet to see that it contains nutrients like folic acid, iron, calcium, iodine and protein, or speak with a professional about supplementation. 

Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, you might also want to start thinking about what to eat when you’re little one is finally with you. Trust me, the last thing you want to think about is making food, so why not give my Freezer Friendly Meal Prep Power Hour a whirl? We’ll make 4 deliciously simple meals in just one hour.

Maternity brands you’ll love wearing (I certainly do!)

If your body allows it, stay active to help maintain your strength as you get heavier, so you can stay mobile for longer. Still looking for the right workout gear? You find my favourite maternity activewear brands below.

Spend less time googling to find a weight gain pregnancy calculator, and more time on the fun stuff, like checking out the Active Truth maternity range.

Use Code LYNDIAT10 to save 10%

It’s no secret that I love brands that refuse to photoshop their models and challenge stereotypes around body image. Oh, and their maternity activewear is also superb! Click HERE to browse the range.

Spend less time googling to find a weight gain pregnancy calculator, and more time on the fun stuff, like checking out the Cadenshae maternity range.

CadenshaeUse Code LYNDI20 to save 20%

These guys are keeping motherhood real. After having 5 babies, founder Nikki knows EXACTLY what we need in a nursing sports bra, breastfeeding top or pregnancy/postpartum tights. Click HERE to browse the range.

Spend less time googling to find a weight gain pregnancy calculator, and more time on the fun stuff, like checking out the Emamaco maternity range.

Use Code LYNDI to save 10% (applies to sale items as well!)

Did you know that one pair of Emamaco tights can last throughout your entire pregnancy? The team also takes back and donates your maternity wear when you don’t need it anymore. Click HERE to browse the range.

But most of all…don’t spend your pregnancy telling yourself what you should be doing. Shoulding is the act of trying to motivate yourself through some sort of obligation or shaming process. Be kind and make choices that work for you, your body and your baby – no matter what the number on the scale. 

If you want a little help to be healthy in pregnancy read on…

When I fell pregnant, I was overwhelmed by all the changes happening in my body and couldn’t find a single source of trustworthy information to help me be healthy in pregnancy (without all the diet nonsense). That’s when I’ve rounded up my most trusted women’s health experts and created it!

With 100+ pregnancy-safe workouts and 400+ recipes, expert women’s health advice, postnatal support and effortless meal planning all in one place, Back to Basics Pregnancy really is the ultimate self-care app for a healthy pregnancy.

To be frank: it’s kinda hard to sum up how it truly makes an impact on your overall health during pregnancy. It’s one of those things you need to experience first-hand to understand – that’s why I’m offering a 7-DAY FREE TRIAL. You can jump in right now and start planning delicious meals for your busy week ahead, or watch our pelvic health video series with Angela James, Founder of AJ Physio and Sydney Pelvic Clinic.

And if you do try it and decide it’s not for you, you don’t need to do anything at all except give yourself a high-five for taking the extra step to see if Back to Basics Pregnancy helps you have the pregnancy you’ve always wanted, before walking away.

So really, what have you got to lose?