You’ve no doubt heard the old saying that “Pregnancy means eating for two,” but it’s a good idea to keep in mind that one of you is very small. While you’re pregnant, it is important to follow a nutritious meal plan. However, your overall diet should not be dramatically different from your normal eating pattern — we should always be eating healthy!

Your calorie needs increase modestly during pregnancy. In general, you should gain very little weight in the first trimester, only about 2-4 pounds during the first three months and one pound a week during the rest of your pregnancy. However, your ideal weight gain will vary depending on your BMI (body mass index). The BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

Here is how much weight you can safely gain during pregnancy: 

  • 25-35 pounds if you were a healthy weight before pregnancy (BMI of 18.5 – 24.9)
  • 28-40 pounds if you were underweight before pregnancy (BMI of less than 18.5)
  • 15-25 pounds if you were overweight before pregnancy (BMI of 25-29.9)
  • 11-20 pounds if you were obese before pregnancy (BMI of over 30)

Weight gain during pregnancy is important. Pregnant mothers should not diet or try to control their weight with extraordinary measures. Weight gained during pregnancy is distributed to the baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, uterus, maternal breast tissue, maternal blood, fluids in maternal tissue, and maternal fat and nutrient stores.

Following a nutritious meal plan during pregnancy is imperative. Be sure to include the five food groups for optimal nutrition for you and your baby:

  1. Grains: Bread, pasta, oatmeal, and cereal are all grains.
  2. Fruits: Fruits can be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried.  Juice that is 100% fruit juice also counts.
  3. Vegetables: Vegetables can be raw or cooked, frozen, canned, dried or 100% vegetable juice.
  4. Protein: Meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, soy products, nuts, and seeds are good sources of protein.
  5. Dairy: Dairy products include milk, cheese, yogurt, pudding, and ice cream.

Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, November 2018

Takeaways

  • The amount of weight you should gain depends on your weight and BMI (body mass index) before pregnancy.
  • Pregnant mothers should not diet but rather control their weight in a healthy way.
  • Be sure to include grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, and dairy for optimal nutrition for you and your baby.

References

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. PNSS Health Indicators.
  2. National Institutes of Health. Calculate Your Body Mass Index.
  3. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines.

Comments

  1. I can definitely understand how weight can get out of control during pregnancy! I only gained around 30 pounds, but I’m sure I only kept my weight under control because I’m Diabetic. I was so concerned about keeping my blood sugars under good control, so it helped with the weight management. If I didn’t have a medical concern to worry about, I’m sure I would have been as big as a house! I definitely give credit to women who can manage the weight gain because it is tough to control the cravings and temptations!

    Reply
  2. Oh goodness, I gained too much weight during both pregnancies unfortunately. The first I gained around 60 lbs. And during the first trimester I was very nauseous so I didn’t eat too much. I also loved apples of all things throughout the rest of the pregnancy. The 2nd I gained 70 lbs! How that happened, I’m not sure considering I was chasing a 2 year old all the time, I don’t feel like I had that much time to eat! Oh well. My doctor was never concerned. And at least my babies got enough to eat in my tummy, plus I’m at a healthy weight now 🙂

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