Weight Gain during Pregnancy: Know What to Expect

Weight Gain in Pregnancy: How Much is Good?

Medically Reviewed By
Vandana Sharma (Paediatric Nutritionist)
View more Paediatric Nutritionist Our Panel of Experts

Now that you’re pregnant, you’re probably not bothered about your weight. You know that you will gain a certain amount of weight during pregnancy, but you may or may not remember or focus on how much weight you should be gaining while pregnant and when. Eating a healthy balanced diet is important for your baby’s growth and yes, you will need extra calories, but you don’t need to ‘eat for two’. You need healthy calories to gain healthy weight and to keep your baby healthy. Gaining too much or too little weight during pregnancy can cause issues, which is why you need to keep an eye on that scale.

Video : Weight Gain During Pregnancy – What to Expect

Let’s help you understand the causes of weight gain in pregnancy, normal weight gain during pregnancy, and how you can gain healthy weight.

What Causes Weight Gain During Pregnancy?

Gaining weight during pregnancy by eating healthy foods is important for the proper development of the foetus. It provides nourishment to the baby. Nevertheless, it is important to ensure that the weight gain is normal and healthy. Your metabolism, your genetics and your activity level highly affect the weight you gain during your pregnancy. Thus to keep a check on your weight gain and make sure it stays within recommended limits, it is advisable to consult a nutritionist.

Pregnancy weight gain is distributed in various ways and it’s beyond your control. Do remember that as long as you meet the requirements of your growing child and don’t consume too many calories, you need not worry about your weight.

What is Normal Weight Gain During Pregnancy?

If you are pregnant, it’s natural to gain weight. Now that you are gaining weight and since it is completely normal to do so, but you must know how much you should be gaining.

While pregnancy asks for weight gain, this does not mean you need to eat for two. Instead, eat twice as healthy as you normally do. A well-balanced pregnancy diet is a key to healthy pregnancy weight. This means that you do not need to double your calories, at least not when you are taking baby steps in the period of pregnancy. Make sure you eat nutrient-rich food for a boost of energy in this crucial stage of growth.

“Have I gained more weight than normal?” Or “Have I gained less weight than the normal weight?” These questions usually bother the mother-to-be, but the regular weight gain usually varies from one person to another. Regular monitoring and tracking can help you keep your weight gain in check

Cons of Too Much Weight Gain

If you put on more than the recommended weight, you will be at risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension and complications during labour and delivery. The stretch marks on your body can also cause unnecessary problems and every extra kilo gained is an extra kilo that you will need to lose.

Cons of Less Weight Gain

  1. Low-birth-weight of the baby (less than 2.5 kg).
  2. Difficulty in feeding and low blood sugar
  3. The risk of certain complications during pregnancy such as hypertension, preeclampsia, and a small baby.

What Should Be the Ideal BMI in Pregnancy?

The amount of weight that pregnant women can expect to gain depends on their BMI. Your BMI is calculated by your height and weight. The first step to determining your weight gain goal is to determine your BMI. Since the ideal BMI being 18.5-24.9, the weight gain goal for women during their pregnancy is 11-15 kgs.

How Much Weight Should a Pregnant Woman Gain?

Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters with each trimester having its own needs. It is but natural that the weight gain for each trimester would also be different. Here is a breakdown of weight gain during pregnancy.

How Much Weight Should a Pregnant Woman Gain?

During Your First Trimester

This is the initial phase of the pregnancy, and early pregnancy weight gain is negligible in a healthy pregnant body. The foetus is tiny, and you don’t need to gain more weight than usual. Maintain your normal diet as 1-2 kg is enough for your baby’s nutrition. In fact, if you suffer from morning sickness, you might not gain any weight at all! Don’t worry if you lose weight while pregnant initially, as you may compensate for it in your second trimester.

In Your Second Trimester

A total of 6 kgs appears on your body in addition to your normal weight. As the foetus starts to grow, you need more energy, and thus, it is more important to gain weight.

In Your Third Trimester

This is your last trimester, and it is also the period where you may find it difficult to digest food. This may lead to the shedding of some kilos gained earlier. Nonetheless, your weight gain is quite stable even if it drops a little during the ninth month.

Your weight gain during pregnancy month by month with a normal pre-pregnancy weight is expected to be as follows:

  • First trimester: 1-2 kgs
  • Second trimester: 3 kgs per month
  • Third trimester: 2 kgs per month

Weight Gain Chart During Pregnancy

The intake of the calories and the corresponding weight gain highly depends on your pre-pregnancy BMI and weight. Let us have a look at the weight gain chart during pregnancy:

Your pre-pregnancy BMI Your target weight gain if you’re carrying one child Your target weight gain if you’re carrying twins
Less than 18.5
12 to 18 kgs No recommendation
18.5 to 24.9
11 to 15 kgs 16 to 24 kgs
25 to 29.9
6 to 11 kgs 14 to 22 kgs
30 or higher
4 to 8 kgs 11 to 19 kgs

Pregnancy weight can be calculated using the pregnancy weight calculator which is easily accessible online.

Pregnancy Weight Gain Distribution

You probably are not able to control the way pregnancy weight is distributed. Do remember that as long as you meet the requirements of your growing foetus and not exceed them, it is not that much of a concern. Wondering what the ideal pregnancy weight distribution should be? Let’s check it out.

To deliver a healthy baby and keep your nourishment up to the best levels, you need to gain weight so that you and your baby do not become weak.

Here is how weight gain is distributed during this growth period:

  • The weight of your baby: 3.40 kgs
  • The weight of the placenta: 0.68 kgs
  • The weight of the increased fluid volume: 1.80 kgs
  • The weight of the uterus: 0.90 kgs
  • The weight of the breast tissue: 0.90 kgs
  • The weight of the increased blood volume:1.80 kgs
  • The weight of the stores of fat, protein and other nutrients: 3 kgs
  • The weight of Amniotic fluid: 0.90 kgs
  • Total weight gain: 13 kgs

Tips for Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain

So far we have learned about the reasons for weight gain and the importance of maintaining a stable and appropriate growth curve. While it sounds like an easy task, maintaining optimum weight during pregnancy can sometimes be challenging. From well-meaning advisors who urge you to eat some more, to the demands of your natural cravings, there are several factors which will leave you with a dilemma.

To make deciding easier, here are a few tips you need to consider:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight in the Initial Stages of Pregnancy

Maintaining a healthy weight is necessary since with more calories come more problems, which may affect the baby eventually. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining your weight as per the doctor’s advice is sure to help in your pregnancy.

  • Eat in Moderate Amounts and Often

A healthy pregnancy diet which is good for your body includes proteins, vitamins, iron, and other efficient nutrients. Weight gain depends on how many calories a pregnant woman eats. Instead of gulping a large amount of food in one go, take small but frequent meals. Eat healthy snacks every 3 hours to maintain consistency in calorie intake.

  • Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated during pregnancy is important as dehydration can affect your bowel movements. Water makes sure toxins are flushed regularly and helps lower morning sickness.

  • Avoid Eating Unhealthy Sweets

You may crave for unhealthy sweets and it’s okay to give in to your cravings once in a while, but do not eat sweets daily. If you want to eat sweets, try and include healthy and fresh sweets in your diet.

  • Eat Healthy Carbs

Eating healthy carbs is important during pregnancy and provide you with the nutrients your baby needs.

Simple sugars in bread or pasta or refined flour products are best avoided, complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole grain bread, or whole grain pasta. They ensure that you stay full for long hours, and won’t give you unhealthy cravings.

Eat Healthy Carbs

  • Take Walks

Walking can be rejuvenating for any pregnant lady. All you need is a 10-minute walk. Set goals for every 30 days and see that you adhere to it. Each step counts, even when you are walking, or doing daily chores. Keep track of your walking schedule. It not only helps manage weight gain effectively but also works its magic on your body, reducing aches, and pain and aiding digestion.

  • Daily Routines Remain the Same

Pregnancy should not interfere with your daily routine drastically till the later stages. If you are an athlete, you may continue your sport under expert supervision and with a doctor’s approval. Yes, gradually you may need to change your movements, as your girth expands and your centre of gravity changes.

  • Talk About Your Weight

Discuss your pattern of weight gain with your doctor to ensure you are on the right track. Also, tell your family how you are doing and be receptive to feedback and opinions. With guidance, many pregnant ladies have successfully maintained their weight both before and after delivery. Calculate the Body Mass Index (BMI) at the first visit, then get some guidance on pregnancy weight gain as you start on this memorable journey.

Losing Baby Weight – How Long Does It Take?

Going on a diet while you are breastfeeding and caring for an infant may not be a practical idea. It is important for a new mother to eat regularly and well so that she regains her strength, and is able to lactate. The physical toll that raising a baby takes, leaves most new mums perpetually tired and sleep-deprived, and exercising is not an easy option either. While choosing a healthy diet will go a long way in ensuring a return to your pre-baby weight, it may take you up to a year to do so.

Pregnancy weight gain is necessary for a healthy baby and a healthy mother, but it is important to keep in mind that too much weight during pregnancy can cause complications like preeclampsia, high blood pressure and diabetes. With a balanced diet, you can gain the necessary weight and provide essential nutrients to your baby. This will also help you with your post-pregnancy weight loss.

Also Read: Weight Gain during Second Pregnancy

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