Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Ideal weight gain during pregnancy varies from woman to woman and depends on pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index (BMI) prior to pregnancy. To know what’s best for you, talk with your health care provider about how much weight you should gain, how much you should exercise, and what and how much you should eat to best help your baby grow and develop.

2009 recommendations for pregnancy weight gain by BMI (Body Mass Index) from the Institute of Medicine

Prepregnancy

BMI

BMI

Total gain

range

Rate of gain in 2nd and 3rd

trimester

Underweight

less than 18.5

28-40 lbs

1 (1-1.3) lbs/week

Normal Weight

18.5-24.9

25-35 lbs

1 (0.8-1) lbs/week

Overweight

25.0-29.9

15-25 lbs

0.6 (0.5-0.7) lbs/week

Obese

greater than 30.0

11-20 lbs

0.5 (0.4-0.6) lbs/week

Total weight gain at the end of pregnancy is, in most instances, approximated as follows, according to the March of Dimes:

Baby

7.5 pounds

Maternal energy stores
(fat, protein, and other nutrients)

7 pounds

Fluid volume

4 pounds

Breast enlargement

2 pounds

Uterus

2 pounds

Amniotic fluid

2 pounds

Placenta

1.5 pounds

Blood

3 pounds

Your health care provider will help you manage your weight during pregnancy. Because gaining too much weight and too little weight can both have negative effects on your baby’s development and health, it’s important to do your best to gain the right amount of weight while eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. What you eat is as important as, if not more important than, how much you eat. And exercising, using an exercise routine your health care provider has approved, will also help you maintain a healthy pregnancy weight and help you feel better and more energized throughout your pregnancy.

Risks of gaining too much or too little weight

If you gain too much weight during pregnancy, you increase your risk of pregnancy complications, and it can increase your baby’s risk of health problems at birth and obesity as a child. If you don’t gain enough weight, your child may not receive proper nutrition and will be at higher risk for being born underweight.

Adding the right kind of calories

Most pregnant women should increase their calories by about 200 to 300 calories per day during pregnancy. However, women who are overweight before getting pregnant may not have to increase caloric intake. Make sure to talk with your health care provider about how many extra calories you should eat while you’re pregnant.

When you add calories to your diet to help you gain weight, try to focus on nutrient-rich calories and avoiding empty calories or calories from processed sugars and simple carbohydrates. For example, eat whole grains rather than bleached, processed flours when choosing breads and pastas, choose a salad with leafy greens and vegetables and a side of black beans instead of a burger, and snack on fresh fruit instead of a cookie when you have a sugar craving. Making the right choices can go a long way toward helping you provide the best nutrition for yourself and your baby during pregnancy.