How Much Weight Should I Gain During Pregnancy?
Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy
One of the first thoughts a woman may have upon finding she is pregnant is this: how much weight will be gained during the pregnancy? Most women will worry about it, fearing they will gain too much and never get back into their pre-pregnancy size.
Pregnant women have good reason to worry about their weight; too little gained during pregnancy and too much gained during pregnancy can both have negative effects on the baby and the mother.
In fact, pregnancy weight gain will always be a hot topic. Isn't it a common curiosity of all those who speak to you of your pregnancy progress?
Imagine this: years ago, it was ‘vogue’ for women to gain only 15lbs during pregnancy. Doctors found out that it was too little to gain, so it then became in style to gain any amount and go all out when eating. That too proved to be unhealthy!
So what do we consider healthy pregnancy weight gain today?
To better understand gaining weight during pregnancy, let’s examine a few points:
- What You Gain During Pregnancy
- How Much You Should Gain During Pregnancy
- Not Gaining Weight in Pregnancy
- Gaining Too Much During Pregnancy
Gaining Weight During Pregnancy
How much weight did you gain in previous pregnancies?
Pregnancy Weight Gain
Celebrity Pregnancy Weight Gain
Do not be swayed by how much (or how little) the celebrities gain during pregnancy. Trying to be thin like them or gaining too much too fast hoping to lose it in a few weeks after giving birth is just not healthy for you and your baby. You may not have the same metabolism as they do nor the resources that they might have at their disposal.
Gain what is right for you and what your doctor recommends.
Causes of Pregnancy Weight Gain
Inside the Mother
Weight in Lbs
Mother's blood volume
Fluid in mother's body tissue
Mother's fat reserves
What You Gain in Pregnancy
There’s good reason for gaining weight during pregnancy: you’re growing a baby! To grow that baby, other things need to expand or increase as well:
- Mother’s blood volume
- Amniotic fluid
- Breast tissue
- Fluids in the mother’s body
- Mother’s fat reserves
As you can see in the table on the right, each of these things provide a certain amount of gained weight, totaling 30 lbs for the mother.
That’s all assuming healthy weight gain. If that’s what you gain to help grow a baby, that’s great.
If that’s what you gained eating candy bars and ice cream with pickles, YIKES!
Of course, the 30 lbs is approximate for normal weight, dependent on a multitude of factors that are unique for each woman and each pregnancy.
Here is what you should try to gain during pregnancy according to your pre-pregnancy weight.
Weight Gain During Pregnancy Chart
How Much to Gain During Pregnancy
The above chart shows you how much you should gain dependent on your Body Mass Index number. It shows healthy, responsible weight gain, not that gained by overeating or water retention.
Your BMI is determined by your height and weight using this formula:
BMI = ( Weight in Pounds / ( Height in inches x Height in inches ) ) x 703
For example, if your pre-pregnancy weight is 150 and you’re 5 feet 2 inches tall, your formula would look like this:
BMI= (150/(62 x 62)) x 703
BMI=(150/3,844) x 703
BMI= 0.03902 x 703
Your BMI would be 27.4, which is in the overweight range. Recommended weight gain would be 15-25 lbs.
As a standard, many doctors and books simply say that 25-35 lbs gained during pregnancy is acceptable, but that is based on a woman of normal, healthy weight prior to pregnancy. Speak with your doctor about how much you should gain during your pregnancy.
How Much Weight Should I Gain During Pregnancy?
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Pregnancy Weight Gain Tracker
If you want to keep track of your weight gain during pregnancy, you can use an online program or a smartphone app:
- Smartphone apps such as Baby Bump Pro allow you to track your weight.
- BabyCenter has a great online tool to help you determine your recommended weight gain and shows you a chart of how much to gain by weeks.
Weight Gain Tracker for Pregnancy
Not Gaining Weight During Pregnancy
Some women become adamant about not gaining any weight during pregnancy. For most women, it is not recommended that they try to lose weight during pregnancy or maintain their pre-pregnancy weight.
As you saw before, healthy weight gain is needed for growing the baby. Women who are considered morbidly obese might be asked to try to lose a little weight or to maintain their current weight. As a reference, that would be any woman who has a BMI of 40 or more. Why? The more overweight a woman is before and during pregnancy, the more she will have problems with the pregnancy and her body.
On the other hand, if you’re worried that you lost weight in the first trimester, don’t worry; it’s common for pregnant women to lose a few pounds in the first few months. Morning sickness is often the culprit. Between feeling nauseous and not having an appetite, who feels like eating?
If morning sickness has caused you to lose some weight, don’t worry. Eat when you can, and make every calorie count. Small, frequent, healthy meals will be enough for your baby.
Gaining Too Much Weight During Pregnancy
On the other hand, some women gain too much during pregnancy, causing many problems for both the mother and the baby:
- Gestational diabetes. This form of diabetes often shows up during pregnancy when hormones inhibit the correct amount of sugar from leaving the bloodstream. If not taken care of, it can have consequences for both the mother and the baby.
- Baby that is too large. While gaining weight doesn't necessarily mean a large baby, already being overweight or obese may result in a large baby. Also, conditions such as gestational diabetes contributes to bigger babies.
- High blood pressure. High blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby, putting pressure on the mother's organs and resulting in a low birth weight or premature birth for the baby. It can also lead to preeclampsia.
- Preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition that is usually preceded by high blood pressure and results in a toxic reaction in the mother's liver, kidney, and brain through the bloodstream. It also affects the placenta, leading to complications for the baby. If left untreated (treatment usually being delivery of the baby), it can lead to seizures and death of both the mother and baby.
- Higher risks during c-section recovery. Those who are overweight or obese who have a c-section may have more complications during the recovery, one of them being clots.
- Can’t see baby with ultrasounds or hear heartbeat due to excessive body fat. In order to keep progress of the baby, doctors and midwifes use ultrasound and other equipment. If the mother's body fat is too much, the waves of the ultrasound machine can not get a clear picture of the baby or pick up a heart beat.
On top of all that, women who are overweight and gain too much weight during pregnancy increase their chances of the following:
- Varicose veins. Veins that bulge, usually in the legs, and cause pain.
- Hemorrhoids. Veins in the rectum that bulge out and cause pain, especially when constipated during pregnancy.
- Stretch marks. Anyone can get stretch marks, but when you gain too much weight, it results in potential for even more stretch marks.
- Backaches. Carrying extra weight puts a strain on the back muscles.
- Fatigue. Feeling too heavy can increase fatigue, making a pregnant woman even more tired.
- Indigestion. Extra body fat can inhibit the digestive system from working properly, resulting in indigestion and heart burn.
- Shortness of breath. Extra weight can put strain on the lungs, making it seem like enough air is not coming in.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Average Weight Gain During Pregnancy
To make sure that you gain the average amount of weight that is recommended for you during pregnancy, you're going to need to take a look at your daily diet and exercise routine.
Guess what? Pregnancy is not the time to super indulge in every possible calorie in existence. Women who are pregnant need to eat only about 300 more calories than they usually eat. If you're used to a 1200 calorie intake prior to pregnancy, then you would need 1500 calories during pregnancy. To get the extra calories, you could add small, healthy snacks to your diet, like an apple or yogurt.
For more about a pregnancy diet, read Eating Healthy During Pregnancy.
Getting an adequate amount of exercise during pregnancy can help with controlling pregnancy weight gain. It is recommended that pregnant women try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis or at least three times a week. It can be as easy as walking or a prenatal yoga session. If you are used to regular aerobic exercise, you can continue your routine as long as you keep yourself from too many jarring movements and from lying on your back.
If you establish a exercise routine before the baby arrives, it will be easier to continue it after the baby arrives when you need to lose the pregnancy weight.
Healthy Snack for Pregnancy
Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Overall, remember that you are gaining weight for your baby. It is perfectly okay to gain the pregnancy pounds, especially when it's done in a healthy manner.
And if you gain too much, no worries: once that baby is a toddler and running around like crazy, you'll find plenty of ways to burn it all off!