With it being the New Year, my mind has been on those cliché New Year’s resolutions—including one of the most common ones, weight loss. During pregnancy you obviously shouldn’t be dieting or losing weight, but it got me thinking about my weight-gain journey the last few months and how important it is to be aware of and manage your weight during pregnancy.
Excess weight gain (or not enough weight gain) can lead to complications during pregnancy and possible problems at birth. Some of these problems include a premature baby, low-weight baby, c-section, and others.
A lot of pregnant women wonder, “how much weight should I gain?” and “how much is too much?”
The fact is that it depends on what your starting weight is. Ideally you should start out at a normal weight range or BMI, but of course that is not always the case. Below are some general guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy according to pre-pregnancy BMI. These numbers will look a little bit different everywhere you go, so take them with a grain of salt. The numbers I used for this table are based off of various nutrition courses I have taken, as well as information given to me by my OBs.
Pre-Pregnancy BMI Classifications
Underweight is below 18.5.
Healthy weight is between 18.5-24.9.
Overweight is between 25 and 29.9.
Obese is 30 and above.
To determine your BMI, simply Google a BMI calculator and plug in your height and weight. This is one of the first ones that came up in my search: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html
Once you know your BMI, use the table below to discern how much weight you should plan to gain during pregnancy (this table is assuming you are only having one baby—these numbers will look very different if you are carrying multiples).
Pre-Pregnancy BMI Classification Weight Gain
Underweight 28-40 lbs.
Normal 25-35 lbs.
Overweight 15-25 lbs.
Obese 11-20 lbs.
Of course there are not only recommendations for how much you should gain, but at what pace you should gain it. I personally think the recommendations of the pace at which you should gain are a load of bologna, because who can actually gain exactly the “right” amount at the “right” rate. But I will share the recommendations with you anyway.
Doctors hope to see you gain no more than about 4 pounds during your first trimester. This is because your baby is tiny and you don’t need to be taking in any extra calories at this point in your pregnancy. If you do gain weight during your first trimester and you haven’t been consuming any extra calories (which, who really can when you are most likely sick-as-can-be), it is most likely water retention.
Once you hit your second trimester doctors want to see you gaining one pound a week for the remainder of your pregnancy. They suggest you accomplish this by adding roughly 300 calories to your diet per day.
So, between the allotted 4 pounds during your first trimester, and around 27 pounds for the second and third, you are looking at a total of 31 pounds of weight gain over the course of your pregnancy. This is about in the middle of the recommended weight gain amount for a woman with a normal BMI.
Now I am going to be honest with you—I am 32 weeks pregnant and have gained 30 pounds so far. I started out at the low end of the normal BMI range, so my OB expects me to gain 35 pounds throughout my whole pregnancy. That leaves me 5 more pounds to gain—which is no problem, because I haven’t been anywhere near the “gain one pound a week” mark they set up for you. This is what my weight gain has actually looked like:
First trimester- gained 6 pounds
Second trimester- gained 1-2 pounds a week
Third trimester- been gaining 0.5-1 pound a week
As you can see, I gained the majority of my weight during the first two-thirds of my pregnancy. Since then my weight gain has slowed down—but my baby has measured perfectly at every appointment, so the distribution of weight gain over the weeks doesn’t seem to matter.
If you are pregnant and are worried about weight gain, take a look at the numbers. If you are gaining weight too slowly or rapidly, your OB is bound to tell you—but you can always ask if you are concerned. Just keep in mind that the weight-gain journey during pregnancy looks sooooo different for every woman! As long as you gain close to the recommended amount and your baby is measuring well, you should be in good shape.
And just as a side note—make sure you are making a constant effort to love your pregnancy body. I have always had a personality of control when it comes to my weight, so it has been really hard to let go of some of that. But I have been doing everything I can to accept the major changes I have been seeing in my body, because growing a human is pretty awesome.