Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Finding out you are pregnant can be an exciting time. There are lots of things you may think about when you start planning ahead. It can also stir up some concerns. One of them may be the amount of weight you gain while you are pregnant. Pregnant women need a proper diet and appropriate weight gain for a healthy pregancyand the nourishment of a growing baby. Gaining weight during pregnancy can be tricky. If you gain too little or too much, it can harm your unborn baby and create complications for both of you.You and your doctor can work out the details, but here is a general idea of what you need to know.
Optimal Weight GainThe amount of weight you should gain during pregnancydepends upon several factors including your prepregnancy weightand your age. If you are of average weight for your height, you areencouraged to gain between 25-35 pounds. If you are underweight orhave a low body mass index (BMI), you will need to gain a bit more. If you areoverweight, you will be encouraged to gain a little less weight than average.Womenwho are pregnant with twins or multiples will usually gainmore weight than average. A slow and steady weight gain over the 9 month period isbest, but keep in mind that women gain weight at different rates.You should never try to lose weight during pregnancy, evenif you are overweight. The burning of fat stores during pregnancycould cause your body to release substances that could harm yourbaby. Your doctor will suggest a weight range thanbest suits you, but the table below shows some general guidelines from the Institute of Medicine:
|Pregnancy Status|| 1st Trimester |
| 2nd and 3rd Trimester |
|Total Weight Gain|
|Underweight||1-4 lbs.||1-1.3 lbs/week||28-40 lbs.|
|Normal Weight||1-4 lbs.||0.8-1 lbs/week||25-35 lbs.|
|Overweight||1-4 lbs.||0.5-0.7 lbs/week||15-25 lbs.|
|Obese||1-4 lbs.||0.4-0.6 lbs./week||11-20 lbs.|
Fear of FatMany women fear the inevitable weight gain of pregnancy, eventhough it is normal and healthy. The important thing to keep in mindis that, for the majority of women, most of the weight gained is not fat. The following table illustrates how an average weight gainis distributed in pregnancy: Approximate Distribution of Weight Gain in AveragePregnancy
|Blood volume increase in mother||3-4 lbs|
|Amniotic fluid||2 lbs|
|Fluids in mother's tissues||3-4 lbs|
|Breast tissue increase||1-3 lbs|
|Increased fat stores in mother||6-8 lbs|
|Total Average||26-32 lbs|
Balancing Weight GainBoth the amount and type of foods you eat during pregnancy will affect your weight gain.During certain times in your pregnancy you will need to increase the number of calories that you take in. Talk to your doctor about how many calories you should add, it will vary per person and throughout your pregnancy. Early stages of pregnancy may not require extra calories but your body may need more calories as your baby grows. But, be careful, it can be easy to underestimate the calories you are adding. At least at first, count your calories to make sure you are only adding the recommended amount.The types of food you eat are also important. Consider these guidelines when choosing your food:
- Focus on fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains
- Choose lean meats like chicken or turkey
- Change to low-fat dairy products
- Avoid saturated and trans fats. Instead choose mono- or polyunsaturated fats. Limit the overall amount of added fats.
Losing Weight after You Have Your BabyYour postpartum weight will, in part, be affected by how muchweight you gained during pregnancy. If you gain too much weightduring pregnancy or develop poor eating habits and a sedentarylifestyle, you may have more difficulty losing the weight after thebaby is born. The following factors help women to lose weight morequickly after giving birth:
- Eat a healthful, well-balanced diet that is low in fat, highin fiber, and rich in nutrients
- Breastfeed—your body will burn more calories while breastfeeding
- Exercise—aim for 30 minutes(regular aerobic exercises that involve the large muscles andelevate the heart rate are best for burning calories) per day most days of the week
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
ChooseMyPlate—US Department of Agriculture
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Womens Health Matters
Impact of physical activity during pregnancy and postpartum on chronic disease risk. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38(5):989-1006.
Nutrition in pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 15, 2014. Accessed November 5, 2014.
Pregnancy weight gain. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/aboutpregweightgain.html. Updated January 2014. Accessed November 5, 2014.
Supertracker: My foods, my fitness, my health. US Department of Agriculture Supertracker website. Available at: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx. Accessed November 5, 2014.
Weight gain in pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 15, 2014. Accessed November 5, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 11/2014
- Update Date: 11/05/2014