Weight Gain During Pregnancy: It’s Not All Baby

by Judith E. Beckett, R.N.

While there is a taboo in our society against asking a woman how much she weighs, there seems to be no such restriction on asking a pregnant woman: “How much weight have you gained?”

You can avoid answering that question directly by saying that your doctor or midwife has encouraged you to gain as much as 25 - 35 pounds during your pregnancy because research has shown that this amount results in healthier, full-term babies.

Or you can distract and appall them by sharing the information below. They’re probably not real eager to hear about the size of your placenta.

Average Weight Gain Distribution During Pregnancy

  • Baby: 7-1/2 pounds
  • Placenta: 1-1/2 pounds
  • Uterus: 2 pounds
  • Amniotic Fluid: 2 pounds
  • Breasts: 2 pounds
  • Blood Volume: 4 pounds
  • Fat: 5 pounds
  • Tissue Fluid: 6 pounds
  • TOTAL: 30 pounds

Meanwhile, your personal weight gain plan will depend on your metabolism and your pre-pregnancy weight. Are you just the right weight for your height and age or are you underweight or overweight?

Pregnancy CravingsIf you are 10% to 20% overweight, you won’t need to gain an additional 30 pounds but should gain at least fifteen. Pregnancy is no time to diet. Your baby needs a steady offering of the most nutritional foods available several times a day. If you are underweight, try to gain enough weight during your first trimester to start your second trimester at your ideal weight. A nutritional supplement formulated especially for pregnant women may help you to reach your weight gain goal but should not take the place of a high-quality diet. If your weight is just where it should be when you start your pregnancy, you will need 2100 - 2500 calories a day but focus should be on quality not quantity. Choose “nutrient dense” foods high in vitamins and minerals.

Rate of Increase

  • 1st trimester (1 - 12 weeks): 3 - 4 pounds
  • 2nd trimester (13 - 26 months): 12 - 14 pounds or about a pound a week
  • 3rd trimester (27 - 39 months): 8 - 10 pounds

Gaining an enormous amount of weight can result in an over-sized baby (although not necessarily), delivery complications that include the need for a Cesarean Section, and the need to lose mega pounds after the baby is born. If you are carrying more than one baby, you will, of course, gain more weight.

A weight gain of less then 15 pounds could result in the baby growing more slowly than normal in your uterus (intrauterine growth retardation), a baby that is smaller than normal at birth, or your baby’s premature birth at 37 weeks or less.

It’s not possible to gain weight during pregnancy exactly as recommended by the experts. Be easy about it. A well-balanced diet, lots of fluids, a daily prenatal vitamin, and moderate exercise is a simple recipe for making a healthy baby from scratch.

Information published on The Rainbow Babies website is not a substitute for proper medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Disclaimer: The Rainbow Babies provides sample contracts and legal/social health articles for informational purposes only—please do not consider it as legally-binding advice of any kind.