Pregnancy Weight Gain – What a Nutritionist Recommends

Pregnancy weight gain is a natural and essential aspect of the journey to motherhood. It’s important for expecting mothers to understand that gaining weight during pregnancy is not only normal, but also necessary for the healthy development of the baby.

Weight gain during pregnancy primarily consists of the baby’s weight, the placenta, increased blood volume, and extra fat stores to support breastfeeding and provide energy reserves for labor and delivery.

However, it’s crucial for pregnant women to gain weight steadily and in a healthy manner to prevent complications for mom and baby.

Why is pregnancy weight gain important?

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy is vital for the well-being of both mom and baby. A healthy weight ensures a smoother pregnancy, delivery, and healthier start for the newborn.

Healthy Development of Baby

A balanced weight ensures that the baby receives essential nutrients for growth and development. Mom being under or overweight can lead to baby having a low birth weight or macrosomia (high birth weight). A baby being born with a high or low birth weight can increase the risk of health problems and potential complications following delivery.

Reduced Risk

Mom having a healthy weight reduces the risk of complications during pregnancy. An unhealthy weight could lead to complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and hypertension. These conditions can endanger both the mother’s and baby’s health.

Easier Labor and Delivery

Women with a healthy weight gain during pregnancy tend to have a smoother labor and delivery experience. Excess weight can make labor more challenging and increase the likelihood of interventions, such as a cesarean section.

Improved Maternal Well-being

Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy can contribute to quicker postpartum recovery. It can make it easier for mom to resume her normal activities after birth, which allows her to feel better physically and emotionally postpartum.

Pregnancy weight gain recommendations

Pregnancy weight gain guidelines are based on mom’s pre-pregnancy BMI. These are the general recommendations and may vary based on individual circumstance. Maternal age, ethnicity, and medical history could affect these guidelines, so always discuss the recommendations with your healthcare provider.

Underweight (BMI less than 18.5)

Women with a pre-pregnancy BMI of less than 18.5 should gain approximately 28-40lbs throughout the entirety of their pregnancy. This can be further broken down to about 1-2lbs per week in the second and third trimesters.

Normal weight (BMI of 18.5-24.9)

The recommended weight gain for women with a BMI between 18.5-24.9 is between 25-35lbs. Similar to above, this equates to about 1 pound per week in the second and third trimesters.

Overweight (BMI of 25-29.9)

Women with a pre-pregnancy BMI between 25-24.9 should have a weight gain of 15-25lbs during their pregnancy, or about .6lbs per week in the second and third trimesters.

Obese (BMI of greater than 30)

For women with a pre-pregnancy BMI of greater than 30, the recommended weight gain is 11-20lbs. This is further broken down to about half a pound a week in the second and third trimesters.

How to maintain healthy weight gain during pregnancy

Maintaining a healthy weight gain during pregnancy involves following a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and other lifestyle factors that support overall well-being.

Balanced Diet

Focus on consuming a variety of nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Aim to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels stable and minimize overeating. Pregnant women could also consider a meal planning program designed to provide meals rich in all of the essential nutrients for pregnancy.

Mindful Eating

Listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating, use smaller plates, bowls, and utensils to help control portion sizes. If you are still hungry after your first portion, then go up for a second serving. Learn more about mindful eating and how to start to start to practice it.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Adequate hydration supports fetal development, alleviates common pregnancy discomforts such as constipation and urinary tract infections, and supports blood circulation, which is essential for delivering nutrients and oxygen to the baby. Other hydrating fluids such as fruit-infused water or coconut water can also contribute to overall fluid intake. However, it’s essential to limit sugary beverages like soda or juice.

Adequate Sleep

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Lack of sleep can affect hunger hormones and lead to overeating. Ensure that you are prioritizing restful sleep during your pregnancy. Start a night time routine and try a pregnancy pillow to stay comfortable.

Physical Activity

Engaging in regular physical activity, as recommended by your healthcare provider, is an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week. Some activities to try could be walking, swimming, and/or prenatal yoga. You could also consider a workout program that is designed specifically for you, as always make sure that you talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise plan while pregnant.

What if I have already gained too much weight?

Remember that pregnancy is a unique and transformative journey, and it’s normal for weight gain to fluctuate. Be patient with yourself and focus on making healthy choices that support your well-being and health of your baby.

Monitor Weight Gain during Pregnancy

Keep track of your weight gain and discuss it with your healthcare provider regularly. They can help by providing support and guidance for the remainder of your pregnancy.

Stress Management

Chronic stress can contribute to emotional eating and weight gain. Practice stress reducing techniques such as mediation, journaling, and mindfulness, and find healthy ways to cope.

Physical Activity

Physical activity is not only to help maintain a healthy weight for the remainder of your pregnancy, but it can also be a way to help manage stress. If you are someone that has already gained too much weight during your pregnancy, start including some regular physical activity into your weekly schedule.

Seek Support for Pregnancy Weight Gain

There are many support systems out there if you are someone struggling with pregnancy weight gain. Joining a prenatal support group or seeking the help of a registered dietitian can provide valuable support and accountability. Schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians today.


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