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Pregnancy Weight Gain Recommendations & Guidelines

Katlyn Joy |19, November 2008


Pregnancy Weight Gain Recommendations & Guidelines

Pregnant women often feel liberated by the idea that this is the one time in life when they can eat, really eat, for a purpose. However, almost half of all expectant mothers gain more than the recommended amount of weight. How much is too much? And does it really matter what you eat as long as you gain the right amount of weight for the pregnancy?

Actually, yes it matters how you put the weight on, and knowing what to gain is based on knowing if your weight is considered in the average, underweight, overweight or obese categories, as categorized by your body mass index. (BMI)

Those who gain more than the recommended amount of weight in pregnancy face more risks such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, increased risk of miscarriage, and having cesarean deliveries.

For an average sized woman, the amount of weight she should try to gain during her pregnancy is in the 25-35 pound range. Expect to put on about 4-6 pounds in the first trimester, and about a pound a week in the last two trimesters.

However, if you gain less than that in the first several weeks of pregnancy, particularly due to nausea and or vomiting, don't be surprised if you make it up in the second trimester and certainly don't be concerned. It's only a problem if it continues to be a pattern.

For a woman carrying twins, the weight gain recommended increases to about 35-45 pounds, with an average of 1 1/2 pounds a week in the last two trimesters.

Underweight women should try to gain about 28-40 pounds, with just over a pound average being added weekly in trimesters two and three. They can add healthy calories by trying to eat more frequently, have plenty of nutritious snacks on hand, like raisins, nuts, dried fruit, yogurt and ice cream. They can add peanut butter to snacks and recipes, and slip in nonfat powdered milk to lots of foods without altering the taste much.

For those who are overweight, some slightly altered recommendations seem in order following a study out in 2007 by the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. The study was published in the October 2007 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology and focused particularly on obese pregnant women. According to this study, certain women who are obese not only do not need to gain weight, but might also benefit from losing weight while pregnant without fear of harming their babies.

Typically, the recommendations for an overweight woman was to gain a more modest 15-25 pounds. But the study zeros in on the BMI, or Body Mass Index, of pregnant women and adjusts the weight gain accordingly.

  • Those with a BMI of 30-34.9 should gain 10-25 pounds.
  • Those with a BMI of 35-39.9 should gain less than 9 pounds.
  • Those with a BMI over 40 should lose up to 9 pounds.

Those who are overweight and need to watch where they get their calories should limit sweets, fatty foods, and avoid whole milk products and salt. They should also make sure that they use healthy cooking methods, and avoid adding fat by preparation techniques. Avoid saturated fats when cooking especially.

In general, pregnant women of average weight should add about 300 extra calories to their diet. They should try for a steady and slow weight gain, but not be surprised by little peaks on occasion, or growth spurts.

Where does all that weight go anyhow?

Baby 7-8 pounds
Placenta 1-2 pounds
Amniotic fluid 2 pounds
Uterus 2 pounds
Maternal breast tissue 2 pounds
Maternal blood 4 pounds
Fluids in maternal tissue 4 pounds
Maternal fat and nutrient stores 7 pounds
Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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Showing 1 - 10 out of 14 Comments
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Karuna Jan 23, 2017 05:37:13 AM ET

I am 25. What should my weight during last stage be?

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Neaveh Aug 25, 2016 02:13:51 AM ET

I'm 2 weeks and I've gained 30 pounds. But I haven't eaten more than I would have not being pregnant.

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shell Mar 5, 2015 11:31:44 PM ET

I'm 13 weeks and weigh 94. Is that bad because I'm really worried about my weight.

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Guest Nov 13, 2013 09:32:10 PM ET

I'm overweight at the beginning of my pregnancy I weighed 239 and now at 12 weeks I'm at 110, and I'm kinda freaking out, I'm never hungry I have to force myself to eat a little something but most of the time it comes right back up.

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chelsea Jun 11, 2013 03:40:16 PM ET

Im i weigh 133 in my weight before preg was/110 lb im 5/5 it says.i gained.23 my stomach.still looks.smal im scared my babyboy is gonna be a premie. Is my weight gain the right amount for my size?

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Abby C. Sep 26, 2012 01:51:06 PM ET

Im 27 weeks pregnant and only gained 8 lbs at 5'0. I'm underweight and need to gain more. My doctor told me it's perfectly normal because of the way I'm built.

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Brit Sep 24, 2012 07:20:28 AM ET

The calculator is telling me I have gained too much already at 25 weeks but my doctor tells me I'm fine and I feel fine! Also, my weight gain has been very gradual and does not seem to be picking up the that weird? Maybe. I have a hard time believing my doctor wouldn't give me advice if I was being unhealthy. I even asked- and admitted I'm not eating as healthily as I could be/ think I should be and she told me not to worry because they check my weight every visit and I am pregnant so should listen to my body (I have not had any strange cravings either...which studies are estimating is a good thing because you are getting all you need.)

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Ana Mar 27, 2012 07:25:14 AM ET

Hi this is my first pregnancy I'm 27 weeks pregnant and I gained 22 pounds according with this calculator I'm overweight for four pounds how can stay at my goal not to gained more than what is normal that is 25 to 35 pounds

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sammy Aug 21, 2011 05:03:37 AM ET

I'm turning 24 weeks on Tuesday, and I already gain 20 lbs. I'm over 4 lbs and I would love to reach mu goal of only 35 lbs by the end of my prengnancy.

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Dominique Mar 1, 2011 03:25:15 AM ET

My starting weight was 130 at 5'4''. I have gained ten pounds and Iam 23 weeks. This calculator tells me I am under but I feel like a blimp now.With my second one I refuse to gain like i did with my first (35 pounds). Nice to know I am on the right track there is hope for my 120pd come back lol.

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