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Pregnancy Weight Gain Facts

Your body undergoes dramatic changes during pregnancy. Organs shift, the baby grows, and weight is gained. Today, most doctors suggest that healthy weight gain should amount to between 25 and 35 pounds, depending on your body size and pre-pregnancy weight.

Recommendations for Pregnancy Weight Gain

How much weight you should gain during pregnancy depends on how the scale read before you were expecting. Here’s a breakdown of what doctors suggest:

  • Underweight pre-pregnancy weight: 28-40 pounds
  • Normal pre-pregnancy weight: 25-35 pounds
  • Overweight pre-pregnancy weight: 15-25 pounds

How It All Adds Up

How do all those pounds add up, anyway?

Here’s how those pregnancy pounds are used:

Fetus 7.5 lbs
Fat, protein and other nutrients 7 lbs
Increased blood 4 lbs
Increased fluid 4 lbs
Uterus 2 lbs
Amniotic fluid 2 lbs
Breast growth 2 lbs
Placenta 1.5 lbs
Total 30 lbs

Weight Gain Timeline

Wondering how the timeline should work for adding on those pregnancy pounds? The American Pregnancy Association (APA) suggests the following parameters for pregnancy weight gain.

If you’re a healthy weight before pregnancy:

  • Three to five pounds during the first trimester
  • Approximately one to two pounds per week in the second trimester
  • Approximately one to two pounds per week in the third trimester

If you were underweight before pregnancy:

  • Five to six pounds, or more, in your first trimester (this will depend on what your healthcare provider suggests)
  • One to two pounds per week in the second and third trimesters

If you were overweight before pregnancy:

  • Approximately one to two pounds in the first trimester
  • Approximately one pound per week during the last six months

What to Do When Problems Arise

Are you having troubles gaining weight? Your doctor can help you establish the eating habits you need to put on pounds, if gaining weight is a challenge for you.

A good place to start is to shoot for an extra 300 calories each day. Here are some suggested snacks to help you do just that:

  • Three tablespoons of olive oil added to breads or vegetables
  • One scoop of ice cream
  • A peanut butter sandwich
  • A large bowl of cereal with low-fat milk
  • Three handfuls of nuts
  • One bar of dark chocolate
  • A serving of fruit cobbler
  • Substitute three cups of juice for three cups of water
  • Three slices of cheese
  • One slice of quiche
  • A cup of chili and beans
  • Eight ounces of chocolate milk
  • One avocado

Another good tip: Try to eat every three hours or so to keep your energy level up.

If the opposite is an issue for you, and you’re starting your pregnancy as a plus-sized woman, you’ll also need to chat with your doctor about how best to traverse pregnancy weight gain.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that overweight women gain between 15 to 25 pounds total during pregnancy (again, your provider will tell you what’s right for you). The IOM has found that plus-size women who stay within these weight-gain guidelines have the best chance for delivering a healthy birth-weight baby and also reduce their risks for delivering by C-section.

The key for you will be to gradually add pounds. The American Dietetic Association (ADD) calls for plus-size women to gain up to three pounds during the first trimester and then put on between one-half to three-quarters pound per week starting from the twelfth week of pregnancy.

Keeping It in Perspective

Speak with your doctor about what your personal pregnancy weight goal should be; and remember, everyone is different. What your sister’s doctor suggested she gain may not be the right amount for you.

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