Normal Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Reviewed by Terri Forehand RN
pregnant stomach

Weight gain is an inevitable part of pregnancy and serves important functions in the development of your baby. Gaining too much or too little weight, however, puts you at risk of pregnancy complications. Because of this, doctors recommend a normal range of weight gain for pregnant mothers.

Normal Weight Gain

According to MayoClinic.com, normal and healthy pregnancy weight gain depends on individual factors, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer for every single expectant mother. In general, you should keep these guidelines in mind:

  • If you are underweight, you should gain between 28 and 40 pounds.
  • If you are normal weight, you should gain 25 to 35 pounds.
  • If you are overweight, you should gain 15 to 25 pounds.
  • If you are obese, you should gain 11 to 20 pounds.

While these general guidelines exist for single births, it is important to talk with your physician to determine your individual requirements. If you are pregnant with multiples, weight gain will likely be 10 to 15 pounds more.

Weight Distribution

The weight you gain during pregnancy is not the same as weight gained when you are not pregnant. The American Pregnancy Association describes a rough outline of the distribution of "baby weight" as follows:

  • Approximately seven to eight pounds is baby.
  • The placenta weights one to two pounds.
  • Amniotic fluid weighs around two pounds.
  • Your breast tissue will increase by about two pounds.
  • Your blood volume will increase by about four pounds.
  • Your maternal fat and nutrient storage will weigh around seven pounds.
  • You will gain around four pounds from other fluids in maternal tissues.

Risks of Too Much Weight Gain

Gaining too much weight can lead to an array of complications.

What to Expect also lists complications of gaining too much weight, including higher risk of developing the following:

Gaining excess weight can also lead to ongoing health problems associated with obesity, and it may be more difficult to lose pregnancy weight.

Risks of Not Gaining Enough Weight

Just as gaining too much weight poses health risks to both mom and baby, so does not gaining enough weight. Pregnancy is not a time to undergo a weight loss plan or fad diet. According to RTI International University of North Carolina, risks associated with not gaining enough pregnancy weight include the following:

  • Poor fetal growth
  • Low birth weight
  • Risk of premature birth

Managing Pregnancy Weight

Eating for two does not mean overeating. BabyCenter recommends eating approximately 300 extra calories per day of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. Moderate exercise may also be appropriate for weight maintenance, and in most cases doctors recommend it. Talk with your healthcare provider about exercise during pregnancy.

Losing Pregnancy Weight

If you gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy, returning to your normal weight should only take about two months, according to WebMD. If you gained excessive weight, chances are it will take about the same amount of time to take off that it took to put it on, so around nine months or a little longer. Breast feeding can speed up the process, although it does not give you license to eat an unlimited amount of food. While you are breast feeding, stick to the same types of healthy foods you ate during pregnancy and follow a consistent exercise program. Other tips for taking off excess pregnancy weight include the following:

  • Try to get as much sleep as you can. Inadequate sleep is associated with weight gain and the inability to lose weight.
  • Seek ways to minimize your stress, such as meditation or yoga. Stress releases cortisol, which has a negative impact on weight.
  • Stockpile healthy foods so you will not be tempted to eat quick, over processed foods when you are frazzled and tired.

A Healthy Pregnancy

Gaining weight during pregnancy is normal and not cause for panic. Maintain a healthy diet, exercise moderately, and seek expert health care, and you will have a pregnancy that nurtures the health of both mom and baby.

Normal Weight Gain During Pregnancy