How Much Weight Should You Gain During Pregnancy?

If you’re in the first trimester of your pregnancy and struggling through bouts of morning sickness – which you know by now actually happen throughout the day – you may wonder if you’ll ever want to eat again.

Many women, however, find their appetite increases with pregnancy. Even those who spend a more than a fair amount of time hanging out over the toilet those first three months often find eating an intriguing pastime once they move into the second trimester.

The truth is, you should gain weight during your pregnancy. The bad news for some women is that you shouldn’t gain too much. Even worse for some ladies, however, is the inability to gain enough to support the health of the baby.

Whether you’re gaining pounds at an alarming rate or finding it hard to add numbers to your scale, Dr. Bardowell is happy to help with information about how much weight you can expect to gain and a few ways you can keep the scale moving in the right direction.

Why weight gain during pregnancy matters

Gaining a reasonable amount of weight during pregnancy helps ensure your baby is born at term rather than prematurely and at a normal birth weight. The average baby weighs from seven to eight pounds at birth. Those with a birth weight under 5 lbs., 8 oz. often lack enough fat to keep warm, may have a hard time fighting infections, or experience feeding difficulties.  

Gaining too much weight or being overweight when you become pregnant increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and other serious health concerns. It also increases your baby’s chance of being born significantly larger than average and may lead to complications at birth that require a Caesarean section.

Excessive weight gain during pregnancy also stresses your joints, muscles, and ligaments – even more than what is normal during pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight can help decrease the strain your body experiences and may make delivery easier to handle.

How much weight should I gain?

We can’t give a precise formula for how much you should gain during pregnancy since every individual is different. If you’re underweight or overweight when you become pregnant, your recommended weight gain will vary. If you’re carrying twins, or more, it’s healthy and expected to gain more weight than women who are carrying just one baby.

Generally, however, we recommend:

Underweight women with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 gain 28-40 pounds

Normal weight women with a BMI of 18.5-24.9 gain 25-35 pounds

Overweight women with a BMI of 25-29.9 gain 15-25 pounds

Obese women with a BMI of 30 or more gain 11-20 pounds

If you’re carrying multiples, depending on whether you were normal weight or overweight/obese at the time of conception, we may recommend you gain from 25-54 pounds.

The rate of weight gain also changes with the stage of your pregnancy. During the first trimester, you can expect to gain from one to four pounds. If you’ve had significant difficulty with morning sickness, however, you may lose weight.

Once you’ve hit week 13, normal weight and underweight women should gain about one pound a week on average and continue at this pace throughout the second and third trimesters. We recommend that overweight or obese women gain about half a pound a week for the rest of their pregnancy.

The healthy way to manage your weight during pregnancy

We’ll give you a list of specific foods and additives you should avoid during pregnancy, such as undercooked meats or raw fish. Most women do best by following a nutritious, healthy diet that includes lean meats and poultry, dark leafy greens, whole grains, and plenty of dairy, such as yogurt.

To gain one pound a week, add 300 calories a day to your routine intake, and adjust as your scale dictates. Keep your additions healthy. For instance, try blending a serving of your favorite fruit with a cup of Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of nuts for a special dessert or snack.

Talk with Dr. Bardowell first regarding the type best suited for you and your overall health, but routine exercise during pregnancy can also help successfully manage your pregnancy weight gain.

Schedule a visit with Dr. Bardowell if you have more questions about weight gain during pregnancy or would like additional tips about managing your weight before, during, and after pregnancy.

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