Weight gain up to a certain limit is a must during pregnancy. Expectant women need to gain weight in order to support the growth of the baby and fulfill its nourishment needs. However, gaining weight does not mean eating twice as much as normal. One needs to strike a balance to ensure that they are neither overweight nor underweight.

This article discusses the optimum amount of weight gain during pregnancy. It also covers the circumstances under which you should see your doctor.

When it comes to optimal pregnancy weight gain, there is no fixed rule. A few factors have to be considered. These include your Body Mass Index (ratio of the weight to the height), your pre-pregnancy weight, the health of the mother and the health of the baby. Given below are the recommended weight gain figures.

  • If you kicked off your pregnancy at a normal healthy weight (BMI ranging between 18 and 25) you can expect to gain between 25- 35 pounds throughout your pregnancy.
  • If you were underweight (BMI less than 18) at the time of conception the recommended weight gain during pregnancy is between 28 – 40 pounds.
  • If you’re a woman with a heavy frame, we mean overweight (BMI ranging between 25 and 30), the weight gain should not exceed 15 – 25 pounds.
  • If you were obese (BMI of 30 and above) at the time of conception, the weight gain through pregnancy should not exceed more than 20 pounds.

The above figures will differ if you are carrying twins and multiples. You will likely gain more weight than a single pregnancy. Thus, a reasonable rate of weight gain for a woman carry twins (started of at normal weight) is 37 – 50 pounds as against the 25-35 pounds recommended for women carrying a single baby.

Pattern of Weight Gain

Weight, gain or loss, should not be sudden; it should occur gradually. Weight gain during the first trimester is minimal. It is restricted to 5-6 pounds only and even less in a few women. Some women also tend to lose weight. The reasons are morning sickness and decreased appetite. After the first trimester, morning sickness becomes less severe and appetite also improves. Thereafter, you may put on a pound every week. 

Breakdown of Pregnancy Weight

Here’s a breakdown of the factors that account for your pregnancy weight gain.

  • Fetus/ Baby (7-8 pounds)
  • Enlarged breast tissue (around 2 pounds)
  • Enlarged uterus (around 2-3 pounds)
  • Placenta (around 2-2 ½ pounds)
  • Amniotic fluid (around 2 pounds)
  • Increased blood volume (3-4 pounds)
  • Fat stores (6-8 pounds)

The consequences of being overweight

Excess weight acts as the harbinger of various pregnancy complications. The most common are gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. You may also suffer varicose veins. Being overweight also has a negative impact on the baby and delivery. Your baby might be a preemie and might be born overweight. The weight issues extend into childhood. Your little one will suffer from childhood obesity. Not only this, it increases your baby’s risk of other chronic health problems such as type 2 diabetes. A very large baby may also require an emergency C-section.

The consequences of being underweight

Being underweight is also not beneficial. It may stunt growth and development in the womb. Your baby will be smaller that expected and may be born before time.

You should see your doctor if:

If you notice you are gaining too much of weight all of a sudden, you should visit your doctor. The reason is sudden weight gain could be a signal of preeclampsia. You should also see your doctor if you lose weight all of a sudden.

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