Weight gain is an obvious symptom of pregnancy. But it’s not always easy to know whether you’re over- or under-doing it. Your OB-GYN or midwife will should tell you how much healthy weight gain during pregnancy you should ideally aim for at your first prenatal checkup. This will help you make your best effort to stay on track. Of course, watching your weight isn’t necessarily a fun activity. But rest assured that you can still revel in a few of your cravings while staying within an optimal range. Here are some easy tips to help you stay on top of your weight gain during pregnancy while still enjoying regular—and necessary—indulgences.
Know the guidelines for healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
Healthy weight gain during pregnancy is important for both you and your baby. And, for that reason, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has pregnancy weight gain recommendations for women of different body mass indexes (BMI).
- Underweight women (BMI under 18.5) are recommended to gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy.
- Normal weight women (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9) are recommended to gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.
- Overweight women (BMI of 25 to 29.9) are recommended to gain 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.
- Obese women (BMI of 30 and higher) are recommended to gain 11 to 20 pounds during pregnancy.
- Women pregnant with twins who are normal weight (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9) are recommended to gain 37 to 54 pounds.
Try to keep weight gain steady.
It’s not just about total weight gain, it’s about keeping the numbers on the scale steady. In fact, ACOG recommends gaining only 1 to 4.4 pounds in the first trimester and then only gaining around a half-pound to 1 pound each week of the second or third trimester, depending on BMI. (Twin moms will need to gain a bit more weight per week. Talk to your doctor you ideal weight gain numbers.)
Maintaining a consistent, steady gain is important. You want to avoid gaining too much or too little weight any one trimester. “The heart of the baby is really the placenta, and the consistency [of weight gain] is going to affect the growth of the placenta,” explains Sherry Ross, MD, OB-GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA.
Not gaining enough weight makes it harder to for the placenta to grow steadily. On the other hand, gaining too much weight during pregnancy puts you at risk for gestational diabetes, which in turn could mean that baby will have blood sugar control problems, as well.
Forget about “eating for two.”
While you’re pregnant, your metabolism speeds up, which can make you feel ravenous. However, the reality is that most pregnant women only need to eat approximately 300 extra calories per day. Think of it as one substantial snack or two light snacks. Keep these snacks well-balanced and nutrient-dense.
In fact, it’s important that you’re eating as many high-quality foods as possible, to fuel your body and to deliver important nutrients to your baby. Calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid are some of the most notable ones.
“It’s helpful to involve a nutritionist in the beginning, especially if you have any concerns, to get strategies to help in this nine-month journey,” says Ross. “To be consistent and to be consuming all the healthy foods is a challenge, and many women are already coming into pregnancy with behaviors [that they] may not be even aware that they’re doing. It’s a lot about portion size and control, which is an important party of healthy eating. That definition is different for each of us.”
Exercise is important during pregnancy. You should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. In addition to keeping weight gain during pregnancy under control, exercise has a variety of benefits, including relieving low back pain and reducing risk of delivery complications.
So, aim to exercise almost every day through the entire pregnancy, even if you previously weren’t working out. Taking a prenatal yoga or Pilates class may be a good place to start. And you can’t go wrong with taking walks at a moderate rate. You can work with a trainer or fitness specialist with experience working with prenatal clients. Aaptiv also offers maternity fitness programs for all three trimesters. So, moms-to-be looking for an easy and effective exercise option can stay up with their fitness routines all the way through their pregnancy.
Keep positive, even if there are setbacks.
Watching your weight gain during pregnancy seems straightforward enough, but it can be really tough in practice. Setbacks happen, and you shouldn’t let them get you down.
For example, morning sickness can cause some women not to gain—or even to lose—weight in early pregnancy. Other women may find that the numbers on the scale spike higher than expected one week, and they need to watch their diet more closely in the following weeks.
Your doctor will likely weigh you at every prenatal appointment. It’s not to lecture you on how much frozen yogurt you’ve been eating. A surge in weight gain could be a sign of preeclampsia. This pregnancy condition is extremely dangerous and requires immediate treatment. So, don’t be afraid to say something if you notice the numbers on the scale don’t look quite right.
Every pregnancy is unique—what works for others may not necessarily work for you and vice versa. Work closely with your doctor to come up with methods that work best for you, your physical needs, and your schedule.