Moms-to-be frequently have questions about pregnancy weight. The pregnancy weight you gain is part of what you do to help make sure your baby is getting what it needs for healthy development. Gaining pregnancy weight at a steady rate within recommendations can also lower your chance of having hemorrhoids, varicose veins, stretch marks, backache, fatigue, indigestion, and shortness of breath during pregnancy.
Why is pregnancy weight gain important?
The extra weight you gain during pregnancy provides nourishment to your developing baby and is also stored for breastfeeding your baby after delivery.
Where does all pregnancy weight go?
Here is an approximate breakdown of your pregnancy weight gain:
- 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
How much total pregnancy weight should I gain?
The pregnancy weight you should shoot for is related to the weight you were prior to conceiving. Here is a breakdown of your expected pregnancy weight gain:
- 25-37 pounds: If you were a healthy weight before pregnancy
- 28-40 pounds: If you were underweight before pregnancy
- 15-25 pounds: If you were overweight before pregnancy
What is the rate for pregnancy weight gain?
What amount of weight should you gain during a pregnancy depends on the weight you were at prior to conception.
- Healthy Weight Before Pregnancy:
- 3-5 pounds during the first trimester
- Approximately 1-2 pounds per week in the second trimester
- Approximately 1-2 pounds per week in the third trimester
- Underweight Before Pregnancy:
- 5-6 pounds or more in your first trimester; this also can depend on how underweight you were before pregnancy & your health care provider’s recommendations
- 1-2 pounds per week in the second and third trimesters
- Overweight Before Pregnancy:
- Approximately 1-2 pounds in the first trimester
- Approximately 1 pound per week during the last six months
The goal is to keep pregnancy weight gain as consistent as possible because your baby requires a daily supply of vitamins and nutrients. It is okay for your weight gain to fluctuate a little from week to week. Sudden gain or weight loss during pregnancy could be a sign of preeclampsia. If notice any sharp change, you should contact your health care provider.
Pregnancy weight when carrying twins
If you are pregnant with twins, your appropriate weight gain should be monitored by your health care provider. Weight gain should increase significantly (35-45 pounds) but will not double.
Does being underweight pose any risks to me or my baby?
Pregnancy weight gain in the first trimester can be a challenge because of nausea and vomiting. It is common for this weight gain challenge to lead some women to question the health of their developing baby. Some women lose a little weight in the beginning of their pregnancy. This is not uncommon and the good news is that your baby does not need as many calories and nutrients as later in pregnancy. Secondly, if you are not vomiting and the majority of what you east stays down, your baby is probably getting the nutrients it needs. If a woman does not gain weight throughout pregnancy, complications such as a low-birth weight infant or premature delivery could occur. Babies who are born to mothers who do not gain more than 20 pounds are often considered small for gestational age (SGA), meaning they may have been malnourished during pregnancy.
Healthy Eating During Pregnancy:
A sensible meal plan that is rich in vitamins and minerals are essential for a developing baby. You may want to ask your health care provider for food recommendations or seek the help of a nutritionist in your area.
Women who are underweight during pregnancy tend to eat low-calorie foods and not enough protein. The following are ways to get more calories:
- Eat breakfast every day. Peanut butter or a slice of cheese on toast can give you an extra protein boost.
- Snack between meals; yogurt and dried fruits can provide protein, calcium, and minerals.
- Try to eat more foods that are high in good fats such as nuts, fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil.
- Drink juices that are high in vitamin C or beta carotene, such as grapefruit juice, orange juice, papaya nectar, apricot nectar, and carrot juice.
- Avoid junk food
- Consult your health care provider about taking prenatal vitamins
Can gaining too much weight be harmful?
The following are potential problems with gaining too much weight:
- Gestational diabetes
- Leg pain
- Increased fatigue
- Varicose veins
- Increased risk of Cesarean delivery
- High blood pressure
How does being obese affect my pregnancy?
Most overweight women have healthy pregnancies and deliver without complications.
However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks that extra weight can have. Pregnant women who are struggling with obesity may have:
- An increased risk for gestational diabetes and high blood pressure
- Difficulty with hearing the heartbeat and measuring the size of the uterus
- Difficulty with vaginal delivery if the fetus is much larger than average
Fortunately, appropriate medical and self care can lower the risks of these complications. Your health care provider may suggest that more tests be done during pregnancy. These might include ultrasounds to measure your baby’s size, glucose tolerance test to screen for gestational diabetes, and other diagnostic tests later in pregnancy to monitor your baby’s development.
The following steps are things you can do to help your pregnancy and baby be as healthy as possible:
- Alcohol and smoking should be avoided
- Try not to gain too much weight
- Be selective about your food choices
- Focus on food sources that contain vitamins, minerals, and protein