The Truth About Your Pregnancy Weight Gain

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ByMicky Marie Morrison, PT, ICPFE
Contributing Writer
Mar 2017
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Photo: Thinkstock

With the seemingly endless parade of pregnant and new-mom celebrities in the public eye, we are bombarded with images of growing baby bumps, speculation (and judgement) about pregnancy weight gain and inevitable tales of how quickly (or not-so-quickly) stars shed their weight after baby comes. And we love it! You won’t catch me criticizing our fascination with pregnant celebrities. I recognize that we somehow identify with stars on a more human level as they pass through the rites of passage in motherhood. It makes me wonder, though, if most moms-to-be know the facts about their baby weight? Do you know how much is considered normal and healthy weight gain during pregnancy? Or where that weight comes from?

Normal weight gain during pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds if you were at a healthy weight before becoming pregnant. For those who were underweight before pregnancy, the healthy range is higher than average at 28-40 pounds. If you were overweight before becoming pregnant, you can stand to gain a little less since your body already has the fat stores it needs for breastfeeding, bringing the healthy range down to 15-25 pounds. Women who are considered obese prior to pregnancy should gain no more than 20 pounds for the healthiest pregnancy experience, decreasing the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. If you want to see where you fall in the average body weight spectrum, calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI).

If you wonder why you need to gain at least 15 pounds to grow a healthy baby , consider the distribution of your baby weight:

Baby: 7-8 pounds

Placenta: 1.5-2 pounds

Uterus: 2 pounds

Amniotic Fluid: 1.5- 2 pounds

Extra Maternal Blood: 3-4 pounds

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Additional Breast Tissue: 1.5-2 pounds

These are just the essentials, weighing in at over 16 pounds and don’t include the average 4 pounds of retained fluids and recommended 7 pounds of fat stores needed for the demands of breastfeeding.

Most women gain less than 5 pounds during the first trimester, then around a pound a week for the duration of the pregnancy. Some weeks you may gain more, some less — which is normal as baby experiences growth spurts at different points. For those conscientious about pregnancy weight gain, be sure not to limit caloric intake to a degree that can jeopardize your baby’s health. And for those who think that pregnancy is your license to eat for two and succumb to your cravings, weighing in once a week to keep yourself in the healthy range of weight gain can help keep you and baby healthy throughout pregnancy and make losing the baby weight postpartum not so daunting a task.

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