How Much Weight Should I Gain During Pregnancy?

You’re going to gain weight during your pregnancy. But how much is enough? Gain too much and not only is it hard to work it off after your baby is born, but it can also put you at risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Be too conservative in your weight gain and you might fail to provide your baby with optimal nutrients and deliver an underweight baby.

When you gain just the right amount of weight, you greatly increase your chances for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby that’s born at the right time.

Weight gain during pregnancy is a frequent topic of discussion at Dr. Darin L. Weyhrich’s Boise, Idaho, OB/GYN practice, and here are some of the most commonly asked questions.

What are the numbers?

Guidelines for weight gain depend on your weight when you got pregnant. Women of normal weight should gain 25-30 pounds over the nine months; those who are underweight should aim for 28-40 pounds; and those who are overweight, 15-25. If you are obese, a gain of 11-20 pounds is sufficient.

These numbers change if you’re expecting twins or multiples: women of normal weight should gain 37-54 pounds; those who are underweight should aim for 50-60 pounds; and those who are overweight, 31-50 pounds. Obese women can stick to a more conservative gain of 25-42 pounds.

What’s in the weight?

Much of the weight you gain consists of extra fluids that surround your baby and an increased blood supply. The weight of the fetus and the placenta also contribute to weight gain — so do a larger uterus and greater amounts of breast tissue. Your body also stores up a little extra fat to help with delivery and breastfeeding.

How should I gain weight?

Ideally, you’ll gain weight at a slow and steady rate during your pregnancy. Occasionally, the scale will shoot up, only to level out for several weeks.

Pregnancy isn’t a time to binge or eat without care. You really just need 300 extra calories a day, starting in the second trimester, to support your growing baby. Get these calories from healthy foods, rather than an extra cupcake or soda. Increase your portion sizes of lean proteins, fresh produce, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats slightly.

An extra 300 calories might mean an extra 2 ounces of chicken, ¼ cup of brown rice, and a cup of low-fat milk consumed over the course of a day.

If you’re expecting multiple babies, your caloric needs will be higher. Dr. Weyhrich can help you determine the ideal calorie increase for your diet and weight-gain needs.

What if I’m gaining too much weight?

Dr. Weyhrich can help you determine if you need to take steps to slow down your weight gain. In most cases, it’s not prudent to try and lose weight while you’re pregnant, but you can curb weight gain.

At restaurants, choose lean chicken breast, side salads with low-fat dressing, and baked potatoes instead of fries. Stick to low-fat dairy, rather than whole-milk products, and minimize the sweets you consume, including candy, soda, cakes, and pastries.

Exercise can help you keep your weight gain in check and is healthy for your pregnancy. Walking, swimming, and water aerobics are usually good choices. Exercise helps improve circulation, discourages swelling, deters back and other joint pain, and boosts your mood, too.

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