It’s expected and encouraged that you gain weight during pregnancy, but how much is necessary for a healthy pregnancy, and where is all the extra weight coming from? 

 

By Dr. Kenosha Gleaton

Gaining healthy weight is a necessary part of pregnancy and helps to avoid pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and more. Your pre-pregnancy weight will play a role in how much you should gain during pregnancy, but on average you can expect to gain up to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Let's break down where this weight is going and how you can best support your body during pregnancy.

Recommended weight gain by trimester

Pre-pregnancy weight has a lot to do with pregnancy weight gain. If you were underweight before getting pregnant, you’ll need to gain more, and if you were overweight before pregnancy, you’ll likely gain a little less weight. 

Trimester specific weight gain for a woman with a normal BMI should look something like this:

  • First trimester: 1-4.5 pounds 
  • Second trimester: 1-2 pounds per week
  • Third trimester: 1-2 pounds per week

Where is all this weight going?

A woman with an average BMI will gain around 30-35 pounds during pregnancy. Let's break down exactly where all this weight is going:

  • 7.5 pounds is about how much the baby will weigh by the end of pregnancy.
  • 1.5 pounds is how much the placenta weighs.
  • 4 pounds is attributed to increased fluid volume.
  • 2 pounds is the weight of the uterus.
  • 2 pounds is the weight of breast tissue.
  • 4 pounds is because of increased blood volume.
  • 7 pounds is attributed to maternal stores of fat, protein, and other nutrients.
  • 2 pounds for the amniotic fluid.

Weight gain with multiples

If you’re pregnant with multiples, it’s necessary to gain more weight to adequately support your babies. Because of the heightened risk of preterm labor and low birth weight with multiples, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to nutrition and weight gain. On average, a mother of twins is encouraged to gain 25-54 pounds during her pregnancy, and for other multiples, approximately 10 additional pounds for each “extra” baby! There isn’t enough information on quads or higher order multiples to give accurate information, but you should talk to your doctor about your expected weight gain, no matter how many buns are in the oven. 

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Every pregnancy is different

As we all know by now, every pregnancy is different, and weight gain will vary. A healthy weight gain for one woman’s pregnancy might not be ideal for another. It’s important to take into consideration your pre-pregnancy weight, activity level, and any medical or dietary conditions. Make sure to talk to your OBGYN to set any suitable goals that are best for you.

Healthy food guidelines during pregnancy

An important part of maintaining a healthy weight is a healthy diet. Pregnancy increases your caloric intake, so it’s important that you’re eating the right foods if you want to support a healthy pregnancy. For a pregnant woman with a normal pre-pregnancy weight, caloric intake should average around:

  • 1,800 during the first trimester
  • 2,200 during the second trimester
  • 2,400 during the third trimester

It’s important these calories come from a diet full of dairy, protein, grains, fruits/vegetables, and healthy fats. Taking a daily fiber supplement is a great way to encourage a balanced diet, healthy digestion, and aid in weight reduction

For more information on pregnancy and nutrition, check out one of our favorite books, What to Eat When You’re Pregnant.

Water, weight, and pregnancy 

Water is one of the most necessary fluids your body needs to function properly. It’s especially important during pregnancy, and staying hydrated can avoid many complications such as low amniotic fluid and inadequate milk production.

Approximately four of the 35 pounds gained during pregnancy is attributed to increased fluid volume, and around two pounds is attributed to amniotic fluid. The majority of amniotic fluid is stored water, helping to protect your baby and provide it nutrients

Pregnancy demands a higher water intake than what's required for the average person, a recommended eight to 12 glasses a day. Your body typically can handle getting rid of any excess water, so don’t be afraid of drinking too much. If you have a health condition affecting your heart or kidneys, it's best to discuss your ideal water intake with your OBGYN.

Healthy forms of exercise during pregnancy

Exercise is an important part of treating your body right and can even help you prepare for pregnancy and childbirth. A healthy target to shoot for is 30-60 minutes of moderate activity, three to six days a week. This can be just about anything you’d like, including strength training, yoga, cycling, and more

The most important thing is to not overdo it. Exercise is a great way to destress, but too much vigorous exercise can negatively affect reproductive health. 

Take-aways

  • Maintaining a healthy weight throughout pregnancy can help prevent the onset of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and other pregnancy complications
  • Every pregnancy is different, so you should talk to your doctor about setting goals for your pregnancy weight gain. 
  • A healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of water are all vital for managing your weight.

 

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