For most women who are a healthy weight before pregnancy, weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds is normal and recommended during pregnancy. Women who are underweight before pregnancy may gain more, and women who are overweight or obese may gain less.
Always talk to your healthcare provider about what is a healthy amount of weight to gain for you and your baby, and don’t be worried if you are a bit over or under the recommended number of pounds.
Eating for Two?
While some women may want to give in to the cravings—and take advantage of the old adage that lets them “eat for two”—during pregnancy, eating a well-rounded, healthful diet (with appropriate portion sizes) is very important during pregnancy. Your eating habits determine the nutrition your growing baby will receive, and everything you eat gets passed on to your baby.
Overall, your diet should consist of healthy grains, dairy, protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy oils and fats. If you have dietary preferences or restrictions, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about how to get all the nutrients you and your baby need.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends that women who do not engage in regular strenuous exercise consume 1800 calories per day during the first trimester of pregnancy, 2200 during the second, and 2400 during the third. (These calorie targets are not significantly higher than the recommendations for non-pregnant women, with average women needing about 2000 calories daily to maintain their weight.)
Normal or not?
On average, women will gain about 1 to 4.5 pounds during the first trimester, and then 1 to 2 pounds per week during the second and third trimesters. By the end of your pregnancy, you will have gained about 30 pounds: 7.5 of that is the baby and 1.5 is the placenta. The rest of your body will also have gained weight:
- Increased body fluids: 4 pounds
- Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
- Uterus: 2 pounds
- Breast tissue: 2 pounds
- Increased blood volume: 4 pounds
- Stores of fat, protein, and other nutrients: 7 pounds
Cause for concern?
During the third trimester of pregnancy, the fetus grows and gains weight at a faster rate than during the rest of pregnancy. Similarly, many women experience their fastest and most significant weight gain during this time. If your weight gain seems to speed up nearing the end of your pregnancy, it’s probably not a cause for concern. Consider your diet and activity level, as well as your lifestyle habits and how you’ve been feeling overall. If you are still worried about rapid weight gains, talk to your doctor.
Weight gain is required to help your baby grow, but most women exceed the recommended weight increases. Gaining too much weight can lead to negative outcomes such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain after pregnancy and obesity, premature birth, and complications such as diabetes and heart disease later in life.
Habits of a healthy mom-to-be
In addition to watching what you eat during pregnancy, stay active. Not only will this limit the amount of weight you gain, it will help decrease pregnancy-related aches and pains, reduce constipation, improve heart health, and ease postpartum weight loss. Also stay hydrated and well-rested: these habits will help keep weight gain to a healthy level.
Remember, the amount of weight you gain is determined by your pre-pregnancy weight and nutritional status, the number of gestations (women carrying more than a single fetus will gain more weight), your physical activity level, and your diet.