Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy
A certain amount of weight gain during pregnancy is normal and healthy. How much weight you should gain depends on your overall health and a measurement called BMI (body mass index). BMI is an estimate of your body fat based on your height and weight.
You can use an online calculator to figure out your BMI, or you can ask your health care provider to calculate it for you at your next visit.
Your recommended pregnancy weight gain is based on your pre-pregnancy BMI. General guidelines for a healthy total weight gain during pregnancy are listed below. If your BMI at or before the start of your pregnancy is:
- Less than 18.5 (underweight), you should gain 28–40 lb (13–18 kg).
- 18.5–24.9 (normal weight), you should gain 25–35 lb (11–16 kg).
- 25–29.9 (overweight), you should gain 15–25 lb (7–11 kg).
- 30 or higher (obese), you should gain 11–20 lb (5–9 kg).
These ranges vary depending on your individual health. If you are carrying more than one baby (multiples), it may be safe to gain more weight than these recommendations. If you gain less weight than recommended, that may be safe as long as your baby is growing and developing normally.
How can unhealthy weight gain affect me and my baby?
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can lead to pregnancy complications, such as:
- A temporary form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
- High blood pressure during pregnancy and protein in your urine (preeclampsia).
- High blood pressure during pregnancy without protein in your urine (gestational hypertension).
- Your baby having a high weight at birth, which may:
- Raise your risk of having a more difficult delivery or a surgical delivery (cesarean delivery, or C-section).
- Raise your child’s risk of developing obesity during childhood.
Not gaining enough weight can be life-threatening for your baby, and it may raise your baby’s chances of:
- Being born early (preterm).
- Growing more slowly than normal during pregnancy (growth restriction).
- Having a low weight at birth.
What actions can I take to gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy?
- Keep track of your weight gain during pregnancy.
- Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider. Take all prenatal supplements as directed.
- Keep all health care visits during pregnancy (prenatal visits). These visits are a good time to discuss your weight gain. Your health care provider will weigh you at each visit to make sure you are gaining a healthy amount of weight.
- Eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Eat plenty of:
- Fruits and vegetables, such as berries and broccoli.
- Whole grains, such as millet, barley, whole-wheat breads and cereals, and oatmeal.
- Low-fat dairy products or non-dairy products such as almond milk or rice milk.
- Protein foods, such as lean meat, chicken, eggs, and legumes (such as peas, beans, soybeans, and lentils).
- Avoid foods that are fried or have a lot of fat, salt (sodium), or sugar.
- Drink enough fluid to keep your urine pale yellow.
- Choose healthy snack and drink options when you are at work or
on the go:
- Drink water. Avoid soda, sports drinks, and juices that have added sugar.
- Avoid drinks with caffeine, such as coffee and energy drinks.
- Eat snacks that are high in protein, such as nuts, protein bars, and low-fat yogurt.
- Carry convenient snacks in your purse that do not need refrigeration, such as a pack of trail mix, an apple, or a granola bar.
- If you need help improving your diet, work with a health care provider or a diet and nutrition specialist (dietitian).
- Exercise regularly, as told by your health care provider.
- If you were active before becoming pregnant, you may be able to continue your regular fitness activities.
- If you were not active before pregnancy, you may gradually build up to exercising for 30 or more minutes on most days of the week. This may include walking, swimming, or yoga.
- Ask your health care provider what activities are safe for you. Talk with your health care provider about whether you may need to be excused from certain school or work activities.
Seek Additional Information
Learn more about managing your weight gain during pregnancy from:
- American Pregnancy Association: www.americanpregnancy.org
- U.S. Department of Agriculture pregnancy weight gain calculator: www.choosemyplate.gov
- Too much weight gain during pregnancy can lead to complications for you and your baby.
- Find out your pre-pregnancy BMI to determine how much weight gain is healthy for you.
- Eat nutritious foods and stay active.
- Keep all of your prenatal visits as told by your health care provider.