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New Beginnings – Exercise and weight management in pregnancy

The third article in a series regarding the first 20 weeks of pregnancy

In Victorian times we thought of pregnancy as an illness, and women were advised to rest or lie down “in waiting”.  We now recognize the fallacy of this advice.  Keeping active during pregnancy is key to preventing some of the discomforts of pregnancy, as well as potentially decreasing the risks of caesarian section, gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced high blood pressure.

It is important to avoid exercise that might potentially cause trauma, such as contact sports, and to be vigilant to avoid overheating and dehydration.  Some medical conditions, such as heart disease and anemia, may require modification in pregnancy.

Recommended exercises include walking, swimming, yoga with modified positions, and pelvic floor exercises.  Activities with risk of injury such as contact sports, scuba diving, and sky diving should be avoided.  Hot yoga, with its risk of dehydration and overheating, should also be avoided.

Weight management during pregnancy is an important component of lessening risk for certain conditions.  During the phase of planning for a pregnancy, talk to your health care provider about your optimum BMI (body mass index) and take steps to optimize your weight.

Pregnancy is not a time to lose weight but a controlled weight gain is ideal.  The following chart indicates the recommended weight gain based on pre pregnancy BMI.

Pre-pregnancy BMI

Recommended mean weight gain in 2nd and 3rd trimesters

Recommended total weight gain


0.5 kg/week (1 lb/week)

12.5 – 18 kg (28 – 40 lb)

18.5 – 24.9

0.4 kg/week (1 lb/week)

11.5 – 16 kg (25 – 35 lb)

25.0 – 29.9

0.3 kg/week (0.6 lb/week)

7 – 11.5 kg (15 – 25 lb)


0.2 kg/week (0.5 lb/week)

5 – 9 kg (11 – 20 lb)


After delivery, it can be tempting to try to lose weight immediately. The needs for good nutrition following delivery are similar to those in the second trimester of pregnancy, and a prenatal/ postnatal vitamin should be considered during this time.

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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