Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines
In 2009, the Institute of Medicine came out with updated guidelines for appropriate weight gain during pregnancy. Despite these guidelines being over 10 years old, it seems that many pregnant women are unaware of how much weight they should gain. According to 2015 data, only about a third of American women gain weight in the recommended range. This is a concern as gaining too much or too little can increase health risks for the pregnancy as well as later in life.
Based on the guidelines, women who are a “normal” weight prior to becoming pregnant should gain 25-35 pounds during a singleton pregnancy (as in just one baby so not twins, triplets, etc). However, possibly less than half of women fall into this specific category, so it’s important to know the correct numbers for you.
How much weight should be gained is based on your prepregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI). You can calculate your BMI by doing an online search for a BMI calculator, such as this one. If you feel your BMI does not accurately reflect your body size, you can have a conversation with your doctor about how much weight gain they feel is appropriate for you specifically. This may be a concern for women who do a lot of weight lifting as BMI may not accurately reflect their higher muscle mass and lower body fat.
Based on your weight category, you can determine how much weight is recommended for you to gain. There has been some debate that these guidelines may be on the high side, especially for women that are considered to be overweight and obese. However, these are still the most up-to-date guidelines currently available as there was no evidence to support decreasing the recommendations further. If and when these guidelines are updated, my guess is that some of these numbers will go down, specifically for the overweight and obese categories.
Realize that you will not gain this weight evenly throughout the pregnancy. During the first trimester weight gain should be somewhere around 1-4.5 pounds and then weight gain should be about a pound a week or a half a pound a week for overweight and obese women.
If you are a person that likes charts and numbers, you can keep track of your weight gain to see if you're where you’re supposed to be. I personally loved doing this as I’m a data nerd. Every Monday morning, I weighed myself in the office and plotted my new number. I used a tracker from this CDC website. Scroll down towards the bottom of the page to find PDF file links. There are trackers for all weight categories for both singleton and twin pregnancies.
So what do you do if your weight gain is off? There are going to be some weeks where you may be a little above or below the recommended range and that’s totally OK. If you see you’re trending in the wrong direction adjust your intake accordingly. Realize though that some things may really throw your weight gain way off. Many women with morning sickness actually lose weight during the first trimester. On the other hand, women struggling with lots of fluid retention often gain an excessive amount of weight. Some women are just so excited to “eat for two” or have a ravenous appetite they can get carried away. Make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for help! We can help you get the nutrients you need while not gaining an excessive amount.