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Weight Gain in Pregnancy

July 18, 2022

Gaining a few pounds is expected and normal during pregnancy but how many calories do you need?

Eating for two doesn't necessarily mean eating twice as much. Instead, you need to eat a healthy, balanced diet in the right portion so that your baby gets the nutrients they need to grow and develop optimally.

The average pregnant woman needs an extra 300 calories a day than when she was not pregnant to gain the right amount of weight in pregnancy. However, the extra calories a woman needs during pregnancy vary from woman to woman. Ask your doctor how much weight you should gain.

How Much Weight Should I Gain?

The amount of weight you should gain depends on your pre-pregnant weight and BMI.  If you were of average weight before getting pregnant, you should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.

If you were underweight (that is BMI is less than 18), you should gain 28 to 40 pounds. Women who were overweight before pregnancy need only 15 to 25 pounds more weight during pregnancy.

As a rule of thumb, you should gain about 2 to 4 pounds during your first trimester. Afterward, you gain 1 pound per week for the rest of your pregnancy.

Multiple pregnancies require more weight gain. If you are having twins or more babies, your weight affects the babies' weight. Your babies' weights need to be healthy because they are born earlier than singleton babies. You need to gain about 35 to 45 pounds.

If you are pregnant with twins, you need to gain about 35 to 45 pounds. So that's about the normal 2 to 4 pounds during the first 3 months of pregnancy and 1½ pounds every other week of pregnancy.

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Where Does the Extra Weight Go During Pregnancy?

Let's have a little weight allocation budget, shall we?

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

How to Gain the Right Amount of Weight During Pregnancy

If you are overweight, your doctor may recommend you lose weight under supervision. In most cases, you'll want to wait until after delivery to lose weight.

However, if your doctor asks you to gain weight in pregnancy, here are some ways to gain the right amount of weight:

  • Eat five to six small meals every day.
  • Snack in between meals. Healthy choices are nuts, dried fruit, raisins, cheese and crackers, and yogurt.
  • Add peanut butter to your diet. A tablespoon of peanut butter contains about 100 calories and 7g of protein. You can spread peanut butter on toast, crackers, and fruits.
  • Add extras like nonfat powdered milk, cheese, butter or margarine, sour cream, and gravy to your meals.

What if You Gain Too Much Weight During Pregnancy?

Usually, you will have to wait till you have the baby before you can lose any extra weight gained.

However, you can slow down your weight gain. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Go for lower-fat fast-food options. That means you may have to avoid mayonnaise, regular salad dressings, french fries, breaded chicken patties, etc. 
  • Use fats moderately and choose lower-fat alternatives. Examples of fats are cooking oils, margarine, butter, lard, sauces, gravy, sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and regular salad dressings. 
  • Avoid sweets and high-calorie snacks. Examples are cakes, donuts, cookies, candies, potato chips, syrup, and honey. Lower-calorie and healthier snacks you should try are fresh fruits, low-fat yogurt, and pretzels.
  • Cut down on sweetened or sugary drinks like soft drinks, fruit juice, lemonade, iced tea, and powdered drink mixes. Instead, drink water, mineral water, or club soda to avoid extra calories.
  • Avoid whole milk products. Rather, go for skim, 1%, or 2% milk. 
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free cheese or yogurt.
  • Limit salt intake. Salt makes your body retain water.
  • Use healthier methods to cook foods. It's healthier to prepare and cook food via boiling, grilling, baking, and broiling than frying in oil or butter. 
  • Try moderate exercises such as walking and swimming. 

Contact Us

Do you feel you're gaining weight rapidly? Or do you want to know how much weight you should gain during pregnancy? Are you suddenly losing weight in your second or third trimester? Do you have other food and weight-related questions to ask?

At My Virtual Physician, we are available to help guide you through your pregnancy and answer any questions that may arise. We are in network with many insurance health plans, including Medicaid, Medicare, United HealthCare, and Blue Cross. 

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