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Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Jan 16, 2020

The topic of healthy weight gain during pregnancy comes up from many pregnant moms who want to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy. As a pre & postnatal fitness specialist, one of the most common questions I get asked by my clients is, “how much weight should I gain while pregnant?”

First things first, you should always ask your physician how much weight you should gain, as each mom and baby is different. But in general, if you’re a woman who was average weight before getting pregnant, your aim should be to gain somewhere between 25 to 35 pounds after becoming pregnant. 

In a normal pregnancy, the healthy pregnancy weight gain is broken down as follows as outlined by The Institute of Medicine (IOM) published guidelines on optimal weight gain during pregnancy.

  • Baby: 8 pounds
  • Placenta: 2-3 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid: 2-3 pounds
  • Breast tissue: 2-3 pounds
  • Blood supply: 4 pounds
  • Stored fat for delivery and breastfeeding: 5-9 pounds
  • Larger uterus: 2-5 pounds
  • Total: 25-35 pounds

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy is a sign of a healthy pregnancy & a healthy, growing baby. It’s not something to be feared

But with that said, just because you’re growing a baby doesn’t mean we get a free pass to stuff our faces with donuts and pizza all day…

As with many things, balance is key. Though you do need extra calories to support a healthy pregnancy, it's not necessary to ''eat for two” as many women are told. The average pregnant woman needs only about 300 healthy calories more a day than she did before she was pregnant. 

This will help you ensure that you gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy. 

It’s never healthy or safe to diet during pregnancy so keeping weight in check and knowing where you’re at regularly is a great way to prevent things from getting too out of hand. 

Continue to maintain normal activity levels and regular exercise during pregnancy.  Proper core training will help prevent diastasis recti during pregnancy and 

Make slow and steady your motto and aim for a weekly weight gain of about one pound.

If you’re weighing in at home, once a week (or once every other week) is plenty; just make sure you do it consistently - at about the same time and under about the same conditions (undressed, right after getting up, for instance). Or leave the weigh-ins to your Dr. your monthly visits.

Tips for maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy

  • At the beginning of your pregnancy, talk with your Midwife or health care provider so that you are aware of what a healthy weight gain throughout your pregnancy should be. 
  • Track your pregnancy weight gain at the beginning and regularly throughout pregnancy and compare your progress to recommended ranges of healthy weight gain.  As mentioned above, it’s never healthy or safe to diet during pregnancy so keeping weight in check and knowing where you’re at regularly is a great way to prevent things from getting out of too out of hand. 
  • Eat a balanced diet that is comprised of mostly whole, unprocessed food (meaning “real food”) is optimal for pregnancy health. To me, that means an omnivorous diet that includes vegetables, fruit, nuts/seeds, animal foods (including meat, eggs, seafood, and possibly dairy), and legumes. 
  • Try to plan your meals around having a solid source of protein, some produce, and healthy fats. Don’t forget to make your food taste good! Limit added sugars and solid fats found in foods like soft drinks, desserts, fried foods, whole milk, and fatty meats. 
  • Know your calorie needs. In general, the first trimester (or first three months) does not require any extra calories. Typically, women need an additional 340 calories per day in the second trimester. For the third trimester, the recommendation is 450 calories more a day than when not pregnant
  • Stay active throughout your pregnancy through cardiovascular exercise and proper strength training. Consider exercises and programs that help you maintain a strong core without increasing your risk of Diastasis Recti as well. Focus on programs that include full body movements, as exercises like a squat or a lunge can be a great core workout because you need to activate your core to balance. 
  • Eat small, frequent meals or snacks to help balance your blood sugar—aim to include some protein and fat when you eat, even if the portion is small.  If morning sickness is a concern, consider eating more (and/or supplementing with) ginger, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
  • When possible, avoid refined grains and sugars, refined vegetable oils, and trans fats, as they offer little in terms of nutrition, are linked to numerous pregnancy problems when consumed in excess. 


How much should you gain per trimester?

In addition to tracking overall pregnancy weight gain, it’s helpful to consider the timing of your healthy pregnancy weight gain. Many women are sick during the first trimester and don’t end up gaining much (if any) weight at all. 

But whether you were barely able to gain an ounce during the first trimester (think: crazy morning sickness) or you gained a few more lbs than you care to admit (think: tons of comforting carbs for the queasy tummy), our babies should be our top priority, so when you hit the second trimester, your body should be gaining weight in a healthy manner. 

Starting in the second trimester, your baby’s getting bigger and bigger, and consequently, you should be too. 

Is it OK to only gain 15 pounds during pregnancy?

Be sure to ask your physician how much weight you should gain, as each mom and baby is different. But in general, most doctors agree that overweight women may need to gain only 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy to be considered at a healthy pregnancy weight.

Do you burn more calories when pregnant?

The first trimester does not require any extra calories. During the second trimester, an additional 340 calories a day are recommended. For the third trimester, the recommendation is 450 calories more a day than when not pregnant


About Kate (aka BeyondFit Mom) 

Kate Horney is a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist with a degree in Exercise Science.  Kate has a C.P.T. & B.S. in Exercise Physiology and is a health & fitness professional with over a decade of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She’s a busy mom of two boys who has a passion to give women the tools needed to reach their fitness, health, energy, nutrition, and training goals.  Kate has over 10 years of experience in helping busy moms shed body fat, boost fitness, and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. 

Connect with Kate on her blog or on social media:


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Are you looking for more posts about pregnancy and preparing for motherhood postpartum? Check out Preparing While Pregnant: Postpartum Nutrition Strategies and Pregnancy Diet | Interview with Lily Nichols
Tell us about your pregnancy stories and experiences with us @lovemajka #fuelingmotherhood #lovemajka

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