Pregnancy is a unique time during which the body undergoes multiple changes. Pregnant women experience changes in their moods, skin, joints, and body weight. The weight gain occurs as the result of the added weight of the developing baby, the developing placenta, and water retention due to the hormonal effects of pregnancy.
Gaining too little or too much weight can have health implications during pregnancy and after childbirth. The amount of weight that a woman should gain during pregnancy depends on their pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI). BMI is the weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of height (in meters). So, if a woman is underweight, they should gain 28 to 40 pounds throughout the pregnancy, whereas if a woman is overweight, they may need to gain only 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.
In general, the recommended weight gain is 2 to 4 pounds during the first three months of pregnancy and 1 pound a week during the rest of the pregnancy. Most women with normal BMI gain about 22 to 28 pounds during pregnancy. However, while expecting twins, the recommended weight gain is higher.
Pregnancy weight gain in each trimester
Pregnancy weight gain in each trimester will depend on a variety of factors, such as metabolism, activity level, and genetics. Gradual and steady weight gain is important since the baby needs a steady supply of nutrients and calories to grow in the womb.
Recommended weight gain during each trimester for women with normal BMI before conception is
- First trimester: Weight gain should be minimal. Most women gain 2 to 4 pounds during the first trimester. Some women may lose some weight due to morning sickness, which is normal. Some may gain more weight in the first trimester due to pregnancy cravings. Weight loss or gain of more than 5 to 10 percent of the pre-pregnancy weight in the first trimester needs to be discussed with the doctor.
- Second trimester: During the second trimester weight gain should be steady, averaging around 1 pound a week for the rest of the pregnancy. This comes to around 11 to 13 pounds in the second trimester.
- Third trimester: Weight gain should be steady and gradual during the third trimester. Healthy weight gain should be around 0.5 to 1 pound a week. At the end of the third trimester, some women find their weight remains steady or goes down during the ninth month, which is normal.
What is the normal weight gain in pregnancy?
The recommended weight gain in pregnancy is
- 28-40 lbs for underweight women (BMI under 18.5 kg/m2).
- 25-35 lbs for women in the normal weight range (BMI of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2).
- 15-25 lbs for overweight women (BMI between 25 and 29.9 kg/m2).
- 11-20 lbs for obese women (BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more).
|Women Weight and BMI||Weight Gain (lbs)|
|Underweight women (BMI under 18.5 kg/m2)||28-40 lbs|
|Normal weight range (BMI 18.5-24.9 kg/me)||25-35 lbs|
|Overweight women (BMI between 25 and 29.9 kg/m2)||15-25 lbs|
|Obese women (BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more)||11-20 lbs|
While expecting twins, the recommended weight gain is
- 37-54 lbs for women in the normal weight range (BMI of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2).
- 31-50 lbs for overweight women (BMI between 25 and 29.9 kg/m2).
- 25-42 lbs for obese women (BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more).
|Women Weight and BMI||Weight Gain (lbs)|
|Women in the normal weight range (BMI of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2||37-54 lbs|
|Overweight women (BMI between 25 and 29.9 kg/m2)||31-50 lbs|
|Obese women (BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more)||25-42 lbs|
When to see a doctor?
See a doctor in the following situations:
- Weight gain of more than 3 pounds in one week in the second trimester or more than 2 pounds in a week in the third trimester.
- No weight gain for more than two weeks in a row between the fourth and eighth months.
How to maintain healthy pregnancy weight gain?
Tips to maintain healthy weight gain during pregnancy include
- Keeping track of weight regularly throughout pregnancy.
- Eating a balanced diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, nuts, legumes, poultry, fatty fish, and lean meat.
- Eating twice as healthy and not twice the amount.
- Limiting intake of empty calories found in soft drinks, desserts, fried foods, whole milk, and fatty meats.
- Increasing calorie intake:
- First trimester: 1800 calories per day
- Second trimester: 2200 calories per day
- Third trimester: 2400 calories per day
- If carrying twins or multiple babies, eat additional 300 calories for each baby.
- If underweight before pregnancy, more calories should be taken.
- Physical activity of 150 minutes (2½ hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking is advised.
- Weight loss and dieting are not recommended in pregnancy.
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InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006. Pregnancy and Birth: Weight Gain in Pregnancy. June 17, 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279575/