Learn more about healthy pregnancy weight gain

Pregnancy brings weight gain. We all know that, but how do you know when you’re gaining too much weight?

Sometimes it feels like you’re in control, but sometimes it feels like your pregnancy weight gain just takes off.

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How Much Weight Should You Gain During Pregnancy?

There’s not a clear cut answer to this question. It is different for everyone. However, your doctor can give you a range that is likely best for you. This range is based on your health and pre-pregnancy weight.

The expert recommendations look like this:

  • For women of normal weight, according to your body mass index (BMI), you should gain between 25 and 35 pounds.
  • If you’re underweight, you’ll want to gain a little more, 28 to 40 pounds.
  • If you’re overweight or obese, you should gain a little less, around 11 to 25 pounds.

Keep in mind that these are averages. Everyone has different health concerns that can affect their weight gain, such as gestational diabetes or the size of the baby.

The most important thing is to stay healthy during your pregnancy. You don’t need to “eat for two.” You only need about 300 extra calories a day to give yourself and your baby the necessary nutrients. That’s an extra sandwich a day.

Aim to eat the most nutritious food you can as often as you can. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid fried or fatty foods, drink lots of water, and get regular exercise.

Why Does Weight Matter?

Gaining too much or too little weight can have health implications for you and your baby.

A very high pregnancy weight gain can increase your chances of having a big baby (10 pounds or more). It also increases your risk of developing pre-eclampsia (a type of high blood pressure) and of having a C-section. Not to mention, you’ll be worried about shedding all that extra weight in a few more months.

Gaining too little weight can also be risky. This raises the risk of pre-term birth and a low-birth weight for your baby. Don’t stress too much if you find you’re not gaining a lot of weight in the first trimester because of nausea and vomiting. Just be sure to let your doctor know of your struggles so you can keep an eye on your health as your pregnancy progresses.

How Quickly Should I be Gaining Weight?

Most pregnant women don’t gain much in the first three months. In the second trimester, you start getting a nice bump, and the scale ticks higher. You’ll probably average about a half pound to a pound per week in the second and third trimesters.

If you have a rapid weight gain, such as three pounds in a week, you’ll want to talk to your doctor right away. This can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

Sometimes it’s tough to see the scale move too much or not enough. Keep focused on making healthy choices, and you and your baby will be fine. Staying active now will also make it easier for you to get back into exercising to lose those extra pounds once your baby is here.

For more information on having a healthy pregnancy, visit the Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC website.

About UPMC Magee-Womens

Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.

Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.