Weight Gain During Pregnancy – How Many lbs Should I Put On?

Weight gain during pregnancy is often an uncomfortable topic for women.

This is true now more than ever, with increased pressure on women to maintain the ideal body image. Often celebrities post their bounce back body pictures to show how quickly they have dropped their pregnancy weight.

With all of this pressure, it can be hard to even think about gaining weight during pregnancy. However, gaining weight is a natural part of every pregnancy and is healthy for the baby and mommy.

Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Most women have heard the standard 15-40 lb. rule when it comes to gaining weight when they’re pregnant.

Where do these numbers come from?

The amount of weight that you should gain during your pregnancy is based on your Body Mass Index (BMI) before you got pregnant.

Prepregnancy BMI Weight Gain Range Weight Gain Range Twins
 BMI<18.5 28-40 lbs
18.5-24.9 25-35 lbs 37-54 lbs
25.0-29.9 15-25 lbs 31-50 lbs
BMI>30.0 11-20 lbs 25-42 lbs

* Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines, The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, May 28, 2009

Where Does All That Weight Go?

When you gain weight during pregnancy, it can be easy to imagine that all of the excess weight is going directly to your fat stores.

While some of the excess weight does go to maternal fat stores, you’ll be happy to know that not all of the weight will land on your hips.

Here are some of the places that your weight gain goes:

  • Baby: up to 10 lbs
  • Placenta: the nutritive sack that your baby needed to survive is gone with the afterbirth. These 1-3 lbs will be off before you leave the hospital.
  • Amniotic Fluid: the protective bubble your baby lives in will pop during delivery. This weight is lost during delivery = 1-3 lbs

    Big pregnant belly
    Well rounded mama!
  • Uterine Enlargement: we all know this baby house shrinks postpartum. Don’t worry this weight will be gone 6-10 weeks post delivery. This can add up to 2 lbs to your pregnancy weight gain. Note: did you know that enlarged uterus is one of the causes of heartburn during pregnancy?
  • Blood Volume: you may get an additional 2 pints of blood in your system when you’re pregnant!
  • Breast Tissue: you may gain up to 2 lbs in breast tissue when you’re pregnant. Don’t get too excited, it usually goes away when you’re done breastfeeding.
  • Fluid: all that water you’re retaining, it has weight to it. Anywhere from 3-5 lbs in the average weight gain during pregnancy is from excess fluid.
  • Maternal Fat: up to 7 lbs of your pregnancy weight is in fat stores. This has a biological imperative. You have to be able to feed your baby. Chances are you weren’t going to be chasing any antelope or scavenging for berries any time soon. This was natures insurance policy that you would have enough energy to feed your newborn.

Can I Gain Too Little Weight?

Gaining weight when pregnant is essential for your baby’s development.

Your baby alone can be up to 10 lbs of the weight that you gain. If you fail to gain enough weight, it could lead to developmental issues for your baby, because you are not consuming the right amount of calories, nutrients, and minerals for the growing baby.

How Much Is Too Much?

We have all heard stories about the woman who gained 100 lbs when pregnant. I have personally met a few women who took the phrase “eating for two” to the heart.

The problems with gaining too much weight when pregnant are just as severe as not gaining enough weight.

Gaining too much weight when pregnant has been associated with preterm birth, preeclampsia, and increased risk of obesity for your baby once they are born.

If you start gaining more than 3 lbs in 1 week over a consistent time frame, it may be time to discuss your pregnancy weight gain with your obstetrician.

This type of weight gain could be a symptom of a larger problem.

6 Months After Delivery

Most of your pregnancy weight gain will be gone by the time your baby is 6-months old.

Many women who breastfeed find that they actually end up smaller than they were before they were pregnant, if they are breastfeeding exclusively.

Try not to get too worried about that weight gain during pregnancy. It is a natural part of your baby’s development and will help ensure that you have everything you need to feed them, once they arrive.


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