Baby weight – it’s a topic that has worried expectant mothers and fueled celebrity magazines for years. How much weight is normal to gain? Let’s change the question. What expectant moms really need to be asking is: how much weight gain is enough for a healthy baby?
It’s normal for all women to gain weight during pregnancy. Typically, you will put on 2-4 pounds in the first trimester. Weight gain picks up after this. You will want to aim to gain ¾ to 1 pound weekly from the second trimester on.
How much weight you gain depends on you. Every woman is unique and so too is every pregnancy. Taller women, for example, may be advised to gain more weight. Ask your midwife what is right for you.
Here are some general guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
If you are…
- Normal weight before conceiving, gain 25-35 pounds.
- Overweight before conceiving, gain 15-25 pounds.
- Underweight before conceiving, gain 28-40 pounds.
- Carrying twins, gain 35-45 pounds.
Where does all that weight go?
It will ease your mind to know that weight gain is caused by the following:
- Baby (approximate weight gain is 7-8 pounds)
- Placenta (approximate weight gain is 1-2 pounds)
- Amniotic fluid (approximate weight gain is 2 pounds)
- Breasts (approximate weight gain is 1 pound)
- Uterus (approximate weight gain is 2 pounds)
- Increase in blood volume (approximate weight gain is 3 pounds)
- Body fat (approximate weight gain is 5 pounds)
- Increased muscle tissue and fluid (approximate weight gain is 4-7 pounds)
That adds up to 25 pounds!
Does that mean it’s OK to give in to food cravings?
Yes and no. Estrogen, an appetite stimulant, will rise in your blood stream around your 13th week of pregnancy. You will be hungry. Be sure to indulge your cravings, but keep it in balance so as not to crowd out more nutritious foods. You do not want to contribute to excessive weight gain.
How many calories should I consume?
A full-term pregnancy (forty weeks) requires about 80,000 calories, which comes out to an extra 300 calories per day. This may differ from woman to woman depending on age, activity level, and pre-pregnancy weight. Eating extra protein is also recommended way to get the extra calories in. Shoot for 70-80 grams of protein per day.
Marti Churchill, CNM, is a certified nurse midwife at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Learn more about our Maternity Match Program at the University of Vermont Medical Center.