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 for a healthy pregancy
and for 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.
The amount of weight you should gain during pregnancy
depends upon several factors including your prepregnancy weight
and your age. If you are of average weight for your height, you are
encouraged to gain between 25-35 pounds. If you are underweight or
have a low body mass index (BMI), you will need to gain a bit more. If you are
overweight, you will be encouraged to gain a little less weight than average.
who are pregnant with twins or multiples will usually gain
slightly more weight than average.
A slow and steady weight gain over the nine month period is
best, but keep in mind that women gain weight at different rates.
try to lose weight during pregnancy, even
if you are overweight. The burning of fat stores during pregnancy
could cause your body to release substances that could harm your
baby. Your doctor will suggest a weight range than
best suits you, but the table below shows some general guidelines from the Institute of Medicine:
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.|
Mothers carrying multiples (like twins) usually gain 33-48 lbs.
Many women fear the inevitable weight gain of pregnancy, even
though it is normal and healthy. The important thing to keep in mind
is that, for the majority of women, most of the weight gained is
fat. The following table illustrates how an average weight gain
is distributed in pregnancy:
Approximate Distribution of Weight Gain in Average
|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|
If you still are worried about fat, consider how you can change your diet to maximize nutrition.
Both the amount and type of foods you eat during pregnancy will affect your weight gain.
During certain times in your pregnancy you may 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:
Staying active will also help you manage a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about any exercise precautions.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are growing
a baby, who needs the extra calories to grow. Recommended weight gain is normal and in fact a sign of a helahty pregnancy. Tracking your calories, eating nutritious
foods, and staying active will help you keep your weight gain within guidelines. It is the best thing you can do for you and your unborn baby.
Your postpartum weight will, in part, be affected by how much
weight you gained during pregnancy. If you gain too much weight
during pregnancy or develop poor eating habits and a sedentary
lifestyle, you may have more difficulty losing the weight after the
baby is born. The following factors help women to lose weight more
quickly after giving birth:
- Eat a healthful, well-balanced diet that is low in fat, high
in fiber, and rich in nutrients
- Breastfeed—your body will burn more calories while breastfeeding
- Exercise—aim for four or more times a week for at least 30 minutes
(regular aerobic exercises that involve the large muscles and
elevate the heart rate are best for burning calories)
It will take some time to lose weight after pregnancy. Instead of focusing on weight loss alone work on developing or maintaining healthy habits like good nutrition and regular physical activity. This will keep you healthy and help you manage some of the sleepless nights you have ahead.
About Pregnancy Weight Gain. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/aboutpregweightgain.html. Updated June 11, 2012. Accessed November 29, 2012.
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/what.php. Updated September 26, 2012. Accessed November 29, 2012
Supertracker. My Foods, My Fitness, My Health. United States Department of Agriculture Supertracker website. Available at:
https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx. Accessed November 29, 2012.
Weight Gain In Pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated August 20, 2012. Accessed November 29, 2012.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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