Weight gain in pregnancy: what is healthy?

From promoting baby’s development to paving the way for weight loss after pregnancy, that’s why weight gain is important during pregnancy.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Healthy lifestyle habits can help you manage your weight gain during pregnancy and support your baby’s health. Also, the smart choice of meal during pregnancy can make it easier to lose extra pounds after the baby is born.

Pregnancy Weight Gain Guide

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight gain during pregnancy. Adequate weight gain during pregnancy depends on a number of factors, including pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index (BMI). Your health and the health of your baby also play a role. Work with your healthcare provider to determine what’s right for you.

Consider these general recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy:

Weight before pregnancy Recommended weight gain
Source: Institute of Medicine and National Research Council
Underweight (BMI under 18.5) 28 to 40 lbs. (about 13 to 18 kg)
Healthy weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) 25 to 35 lbs. (about 11 to 16 kg)
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) 15 to 25 lbs. (about 7 to 11 kg)
obese (BMI 30 or more) 11 to 20 lbs. (about 5 to 9 kg)

When wearing twins or multiples

If you wear twins or multiples, you will probably need to gain more weight. Again, work with your healthcare provider to determine what’s right for you.

Consider these general recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy if you are wearing twins:

Weight before pregnancy Recommended weight gain
Source: Institute of Medicine and National Research Council
Underweight (BMI under 18.5) 50 to 62 lbs. (about 23 to 28 kg)
Healthy weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) 37 to 54 lbs. (about 17 to 25 kg)
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) 31 to 50 lbs. (about 14 to 23 kg)
obese (BMI 30 or more) 25 to 42 lbs. (about 11 to 19 kg)

When you are overweight

Being overweight before pregnancy increases the risk of various complications of pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy – including preeclampsia – the need for cesarean section and premature birth.

Although a certain amount of weight gain during pregnancy is recommended for people who are overweight or obese before pregnancy, some research suggests that people who are obese can safely gain less weight than recommended by the guidelines. More research is needed.

Work with your doctor to determine how much weight you should gain during pregnancy. Your healthcare provider can provide you with nutrition and physical activity guidance and strategies for managing your weight throughout your pregnancy.

When you’re underweight

If you are underweight before pregnancy, it is essential that you gain a reasonable amount of weight while you are pregnant. Without extra weight, your baby may be born earlier (premature birth) or younger than expected.

When you earn too much

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can increase your baby’s risk of health problems, such as being born significantly older than average, and complications at birth, such as the baby’s shoulder becoming blocked after birth (shoulder dystocia ). Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can also increase the risk of retaining postpartum weight.

Where does weight gain lead during pregnancy?

Suppose your child weighs 7 or 8 pounds (about 3 to 3.6 pounds). This is part of weight gain during pregnancy. What about the rest? Here is an example breakdown:

  • Larger breasts: 1 to 3 pounds (about 0.5 to 1.4 kilograms)
  • Larger uterus: 2 pounds (about 0.9 kilograms)
  • Placenta: 1 1/2 pounds (about 0.7 kilograms)
  • Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds (about 0.9 kilograms)
  • Increased blood volume: 3 to 4 pounds (about 1.4 to 1.8 kilograms)
  • Increased fluid volume: 2 to 3 pounds (about 0.9 to 1.4 kilograms)
  • Fat deposits: 6 to 8 pounds (about 2.7 to 3.6 kilograms)

Putting on the pounds

In the first trimester, most people don’t need to gain much weight. This is good news if you are struggling with morning sickness.

If you start with a healthy weight, you only need to gain about 1 to 4 pounds (0.5 to 1.8 kilograms) in the first few months of pregnancy. You can do this by eating a healthy diet – no extra calories are needed.

Constant weight gain is more important in the second and third trimesters – especially if you start with a healthy weight or are underweight. According to the instructions, you will gain about 0.5 kilograms per week until delivery. An extra 300 calories a day – half a sandwich and a glass of skim milk – might be enough to help you meet that goal. For overweight or obese people, the guidelines translate into a weight gain of about 1/2 pound (0.2 kilograms) per week in the second and third trimesters. Try adding a glass of low-fat milk or an ounce of cheese and a slice of fresh fruit to your diet.

Working with your healthcare provider

Your healthcare provider will closely monitor your weight. You can do your part by eating a healthy diet. Also, for most pregnant women, on most days it is recommended to perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or swimming. However, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program. And make sure you keep your prenatal appointments. In order to maintain weight gain during pregnancy at your target, your healthcare provider may offer suggestions for increasing calories or reducing as needed.

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