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Physical Changes In Pregnancy - Weight Gain

Weight gain in pregnancy can create mixed emotions. In some cases it can be exciting to watch the changes in your body as your belly and baby grow. In other circumstances, it is a struggle watching the weight increase and self image change. It can bring thoughts like:

  • Am I every going to be able to loose this weight?

  • The only time I feel sexy is when I am pregnant.

  • I don't feel sexy when I am pregnant.

  • Why does my body look like that?

  • Will I ever go back tot he way I use to be?

These are all normal to feel, the changes in the body will continue well into the postpartum point. If you are struggling with self image, talk with your provider. It is important to discuss. How you feel about you pregnacny may strongly influence the desire or lack of desire to encourage weight gain.

Weight gain in pregnancy is vital to the health of your pregnancy and the health of the placenta.

Guidelines for Proper Weight Gain

A balanced and highly nutrious diet along with exercise, is the basis for a healthy pregnancy. Most pregnant women require an increase in calories while pregnant:

  • 1,800 calories per day in the 1st trimester

  • 2,200 calories per day in the 2nd trimester

  • 2,400 calories per day in the 3rd trimester

  • 2,700 calories per day postpartum

It is important to know your BMI (body mass index). If you are uncertain, ask your health care provider, they will have that information.

Women with a BMI of under 18 should gain about 28-40 pounds

Women with a BMI of 18.5-24.9 should gain 25-35 pounds.

Women with BMI of 25-29.9 should gain around 15-25 pounds

Women with BMI of 30 or more should gain around 10-20 pounds

Where Does the Weight Go? 


In pregnancy, your body must store nutrients and increase the amount of blood and other fluids it produces. Your nutrition directly affects your healthy, the health of your placenta, and health of your baby.

Here is where the weight will go: 

•       7 pounds: Maternal stores (fat, protein, and other nutrients)

•       4 pounds: Increased fluid 

•       4 pounds: Increased blood 

•       2 pounds: Breast growth 

•       2 pounds: Uterus 

•       Approx. 6-9 lbs pounds: Baby 

•       2 pounds: Amniotic fluid 

•       2 pounds: Placenta 

Facts About Weight Gain in Pregnancy:

  • Women who do not gain enough weight in pregnancy are more likely to have smaller babies. Babies who have low birth weight (less than 5 pounds) find it harder to live outside the uterus. Labor is not easier if your baby is smaller or weighs too little. You should not try to gain less weight so you can have a smaller baby.

  • Women who weigh too much can have problems as well. Do not try to loose weight while pregnant. You may keep your baby from getting needed nutrients. It is best to try to loose weight before you are pregnant and then again after birth.

  • Women who eat healthy during pregnancy will grow the size baby her body can labor and birth. The focus on proper weight gain is choosing to put healthy food into the body at meal times.

  • You are eating to support pregnancy, not eating for two people. When increasing consuption with the idea of eating for two, women are far less likely to heat a healthier diet.


 When Is it Normal to See Weight Gain?

Weight gain can occur differently for everyone. For some women they will see weight gain at the very beginning. Some women see all the weight gain at the end. Many women see it spaced throughout their pregnancy. There are many variations of normal.

I Am Concerned

I have not gained enough. I have not been able to gain weight related to:

  • Too much vomiting

  • Too nauseous

  • Lack of appetite

  • Emotional stress

  • Not enough time

I have am gaining too much weight related to:

  • Emotional stress

  • Fasting and Binging (eating only once or twice a day)

  • Hungry all the time

  • Feel bad if I don't eat frequently

  • Not eating healthy food

It is good to focus on setting an alarm to eat every two hours. Eating a small handfull at every meal is vital. You do not need to make it a large meal. Spacing a small handful every two hours will promote a stable blood sugar and may help to increase appitite the ability to eat more. When choosing the small handfull, make sure it is nutrient dense. Healthy food will contribute to better mood, more energy, and appropriate weight gain. Increase your hydration. Water helps to reduce appitite and reduce nausea and vomiting. Plan out your meals, this will help to encourage healthy nutritious food avaliable to you thorughout the day.

Looking for some more guidance on nutrition in pregnancy or ideas on healthy options, click here for more information.


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