Weight Gain Guidelines and Diet While Pregnant

It is important to gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy to assure adequate nutrition for you and your baby. Gaining enough weight during pregnancy is also important to ensure that your baby’s weight is adequate. Small birth weight babies (less than 5 1/2 pounds) have a greater risk of health problems. If you were within your desirable weight range for your height before pregnancy, it is recommended that you gain 22-27 pounds during your pregnancy. If you are overweight at the beginning of the pregnancy, weight gain should be slightly less; and, if you are underweight, your weight gain may be slightly more.

Trying to lose weight during pregnancy is not recommended. Gaining enough weight is very important to the healthy development of your baby.

The rate at which you gain weight is as important as the total number of pounds gained. Weight gain during the first three months is usually slow, 3 – 4 pounds by the end of the third month of pregnancy. The rate of weight gain increases during the last six months of pregnancy. You can expect to gain an average of 1/2 – 1 pound per week. The rate may vary from month to month. If you gain too much weight, it is not recommended that you try to lose weight. However, your doctor may send to you to a registered dietitian for help with controlling your weight.

Recommended Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines based on Body Mass Index

These are the Institutes of Medicines guidelines for pregnancy weight gain, based on your body mass index before becoming pregnant with one baby:

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5): Gain 28-40 pounds
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9): Gain 25-35 pounds
  • Overweight (BMI 25-29.9): Gain 15-25 pounds
  • Obese (BMI greater than 30): Gain 11-20 pounds

These here are the guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy with twins, based on the mother’s pre-pregnancy body mass index:

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5): No guidelines are available because of insufficient data.
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9): Gain 37-54 pounds
  • Overweight (BMI 25-29.9): Gain 31-50 pounds
  • Obese (BMI greater than 30): Gain 25-42 pounds

You can find look up your pre-pregnancy body mass index on this body mass index chart using your weight before you were pregnant. The chart does not apply to women who are pregnant.

Where Does the Pregnancy Weight Go?

When you’re pregnant, gaining weight is not the same as getting fat. A lot of your weight gain is your body gearing up to take care of your baby as it grows and develops. You need extra blood and amniotic fluid. And the placenta grows, too. Here’s about what you can expect to gain while you’re pregnant. Keep in mind, much of your body will return to normal after your baby is born. However, gaining too much weight will be stored as fat, and that won’t go away as a result of giving birth.

Illustration of the distribution of weight gained during 40 week pregnancy
This illustration is for weight gain instruction only. We do not claim it is to scale or that the represented position of the baby at 40 weeks is correct.

Help Controlling Your Weight

These are some tools that can help you control your weight while you’re pregnant. The daily food guide during pregnancy shows food groups and recommended daily servings. Use the pregnancy weight chart to record you weekly weight gain. To meet the recommended weight gain guidelines, you should target a weight gain of 1/2 to 1 pound a week for the last 6 months.

If you gain too much weight, you could have gestational diabetes or pregnancy inducted hypertension (gestational hypertension). Both conditions needs to be watched carefully by your ob/gyn.

Making Healthy Choices When Eating Out

Eat Less Of These

  • Deep Fried foods such as french fries, hash browns, fish sandwiches
  • Double, Jumbo, Super anything – more fat, sodium, and calories
  • Added Fats such as oils, spreads, special sauces and toppings
  • Soft Drinks and Shakes which are high in calories and sugar, low in nutrients
  • Commercial Pastries
  • Croissants, Pies, Cookies; high in fat, sugar and calories

Eat More of These

  • Broiled or baked meat or poultry
  • Fresh salads/vegetables
  • Reduced calorie dressings for side salads
  • Low-fat milk or water instead of soft drinks
  • Whole grain breads/rolls instead of refined “white” flour products

How Much Weight Do You Lose When Your Baby is Born?

You will lose about 12-13 pounds with your baby’s birth and another 5 pounds from normal fluid loss by the 5th day. Weight loss usually levels off after the first 6 weeks, when you should be back to your normal weight at your 6-weeks check-up. Breastfeeding mothers usually lose weight more quickly than non-nursing mothers.

Pregnant woman weighing herself

More About Pregnancy

Pregnancy Guide
Preventing Preterm Birth