The Right Amount of Weight You Should Gain During Pregnancy

Too much, too little can affect the health of mom and baby
Pregnancy & Weight Gain

By: Karen Cooper, DO

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Many first-time moms-to-be have probably heard the expression that they’re now “eating for two.” But that doesn’t mean you get to eat twice as much.

The saying really means you should eat even more mindfully and nutritiously than ever, because another person is depending on your food choices, says women’s health physician Karen Cooper, DO.

“Eating for two does not mean having two, three, or four helpings,” Dr. Cooper says. “It means that you are mindful that you need a little more extra calories while you’re carrying your baby and that those calories are nutrient-dense to support your health and the baby’s health.”

The effects of pregnancy weight gain

A recent study shows that more than two-thirds of pregnant women gain either more or less than the recommend amount of weight during pregnancy.

Advertising Policy

The study results showed that mothers who did not stay within the recommended guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy had a higher risk of health problems for herself and her baby, compared to mothers who stayed within the weight gain range.

The current recommendations say:

  • Women who start pregnancy with a healthy body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 should gain 25 pounds to 35 pounds.
  • Women who are overweight, with a BMI of 25 to 29.9, should gain 15 pounds to 25 pounds.
  • Women who are obese, with a BMI of 30 and greater, should gain 11 pounds to 20 pounds.
  • Women who are underweight, with a BMI of less than 18.5, should gain between 28 pounds to 40 pounds.

Staying within the suggested guidelines is the best way to prevent pregnancy complications such as diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia and to help protect the growing baby, Dr. Cooper says.

Best not to stress

However, it’s also important for pregnant moms not to stress too much about numbers, Dr. Cooper says. Remember your doctor is there to help provide guidance regardless of the number on the scale, she says.

Advertising Policy

The most important thing that women need to know if they’re considering pregnancy is to be as healthy as possible, Dr. Cooper says. That means exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, get enough rest and speak to a doctor regularly. These are the keys to a healthy pregnancy and avoiding too much weight gain.

For new moms who are unsure where to begin, enlisting the help of a dietician is a good place to start, Dr. Cooper says.

“It’s really important for all women who are planning to become pregnant to have an appointment or a consultation with a dietician to ensure that they know what to eat during their pregnancy,”  Dr. Cooper says.

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA.

Advertising Policy