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Weight Gain During Pregnancy: How Much is Too Much?

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Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain

Pickles and ice cream? Sure. Cravings are known to hit hard during pregnancy. However, following through with every craving isn’t the best for your health. It’s a common misconception that it’s okay to eat as much as you’d like during pregnancy because you’re eating for two.

Although you’re not the only one eating, you don’t have to consume thousands of extra calories a day for you and your baby to be healthy. That poses the question: during pregnancy, how much weight gain is too much?

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Weight Gain

Weight gain during pregnancy should not be thought of as “one-size-fits-all." The amount of weight you need to gain in order to have a healthy pregnancy depends on factors such as your pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index (BMI).

  • Underweight. If you’re underweight when becoming pregnant, healthy pregnancy weight gain is between 28 to 40 pounds. If too little weight is gained, the baby can be born with a low birth weight. 
  • Healthy Weight. If at the time you become pregnant you’re at a healthy BMI, pregnancy weight gain should range between 25 to 35 pounds.
  • Overweight. A woman who is overweight during her pregnancy does not need to gain as much as someone who is at a healthy weight. Healthy pregnancy weight gain for an overweight woman is between 15 to 25 pounds.
  • Obese. In order to keep the baby healthy when the pregnant mother is obese, pregnancy weight gain should not be more than 11 to 20 pounds. 

Expecting Multiples

If you have more than one bun in the oven, it’s likely that you will need to gain more weight than you would if you were pregnant with only one baby. If you were at healthy weight before becoming pregnant with multiples, 37 to 54 pounds is a healthy amount of weight to gain. Are you overweight while expecting more than one baby? You only need to gain between 25 to 42 pounds.

When It’s Healthy to Put on the Pounds

The first trimester doesn’t require much weight gain, but weight gain should be steady throughout the second and third trimester. So what is healthy weight gain? It’s only about 3 to 4 pounds a month until the baby is born. This is easily done by only eating an extra 300 calories a day.

Healthy Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is very important since the food you eat is your baby’s main source of nutrition. Depending on a woman’s weight, level of daily activity and age, nutritional needs differ.

  • Whole grains. Eating grains can provide a pregnant woman with energy, and fortified grains can help a woman get the folic acids she needs. Make sure that at least half of your daily grains are whole grains. 
  • Fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables make up an important component of a pregnant woman’s diet. The vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables help absorb nutrients and aid in digestion. 
  • Meat. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and beans come packed with plenty of protein. A pregnant woman needs to make sure they are eating protein to help with the baby’s growth. 
  • Dairy. Calcium found in dairy helps develop a baby’s bones and teeth. 

When Too Much Weight is Gained

When too much weight is gained during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of health problems for both you and your baby. The baby could be born with a large birth weight or be premature. Not only is excessive weight gain unhealthy during pregnancy, but it can make the pregnancy more difficult. The extra weight puts strain on the body, making it harder for blood to move around, leading to cramps, exhaustion and body aches.

Excessive weight gain can also lead to an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. Both the mother and the baby are affected by this disease. A mother who is overweight is likely to give birth to an overweight baby who could have a greater risk of developing childhood obesity.

Pregnancy Exercises

In order to keep your pregnancy weight in check, exercising can help you maintain a healthy weight. Staying physically active during pregnancy can make you feel better, prepare your body for birth and help you get back into pre-pregnancy shape much quicker.

If you exercised before pregnancy, continue your normal routine and add modifications if necessary. If you didn’t actively exercise pre-pregnancy, that doesn’t mean you should give up! Much like any normal exercise routine, begin slowly and change your routine as you become stronger. Exercises that a pregnant woman can do include:

  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Walking
  • Water aerobics

Have a Healthy Pregnancy

Staying healthy during pregnancy is a goal you can keep within reach with the help of experts at UnityPoint Clinic. Our skilled providers will work with you to develop a care plan for a healthy pregnancy. Are you concerned that your weight could be a problem during your pregnancy? Make an appointment today to talk to a provider at UnityPoint Clinic.