Everything You Need to Know About Pregnancy and Weight Gain

Women’s Health

Pregnancy is an absolutely beautiful thing. Creating life and bringing it into the world – it’s truly a miracle.

But it can also be hard because of the weight gain and body changes that come along with it.

It’s no secret that society puts ridiculous pressures on women to look a certain way, and so when it comes to pregnancy women tend to panic about changes that will occur and wonder if their bodies will ever be the “same”.

But I am here to tell you that it’s okay. It’s okay to just be you. To show up as you are. It’s okay for your body to change, you are not any less worthy with a few more stretch marks and sagging skin.

You are beautiful.

On the flip side, I do know that many of you want to have a healthy pregnancy and continue to be as healthy as possible.

So I am going to answer some topics around weight gain and pregnancy.

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy

Weight gain during pregnancy is going to be different for everyone, but there are specific guidelines of what is the minimal or average amount.

The recommended weight gain for pregnancy is 25-35lbs.

This is largely based on your pre-pregnancy weight, though.

If you are underweight entering pregnancy, 28-40lbs is recommended to gain.

If you are overweight entering pregnancy, 15-25lbs is recommended to gain.

The recommendations for weight gain are not for body image, but truly for health.

Not gaining enough weight during pregnancy can lead to the baby being small for gestational age.

And gaining too much weight during pregnancy can lead to a higher risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and are more likely to require a c-section.

Weight gain during pregnancy can be confusing since your baby is only a certain size, so what is the rest of the weight?

Some is body fat, that is inevitable.

But other categories are blood volume, placenta, amniotic fluid, uterus, breasts, and extracellular fluid.

Now we know weight gain during pregnancy is more than just fat and the weight of the baby.

How can I avoid gaining too much weight when pregnant

Every person, and every pregnancy, are different.

You want to avoid gaining too much weight and too little weight, so focusing on just being as healthy as you can and moving in ways that feel good, then you should be just fine.

The idea of “eating for two” is not really reality with pregnancy. Yes, you do need to eat food to fuel both you and the growth of the baby, but it is not as many calories as people assume.

You generally do not need extra calories for the baby in the first trimester.

In the second trimester, calories should be increased 340 calories to meet babies needs.

In the third trimeter, calories should be increased 450 calories to meet babies needs.

Now, this does not mean you should count calories during pregnancy, or not give in to any of your cravings.

You want to just focus on being as healthy as you can and just listening to your hunger cues. Your body will tell you if it needs more food.

And if you want ice cream, eat ice cream. But it can be a slippery slope to give into all cravings and needs just because “it’s pregnancy, that’s what you do”.

Again, you absolutely can. But if you are trying not to gain too much weight with your pregnancy, then just focus on your hunger cues, eat cravings when you really want them, and stop eating when you are full.

Focusing on eating high quality protein, vegetables, carbs and healthy fats is ideal during pregnancy (just like any other time).

What trimester do you gain the most weight

The bulk of weight is gained during the 3rd trimester.

This is because the baby does the most growing during this period, usually going from 2lbs to 6-8lbs.

You are also eating more to fuel both you and the baby, and therefore likely gaining the most fat during this period as well.

You want also start retaining more water due to changes in hormones that are preparing you for delivery.

Remember that just because you will gain weight during the 3rd trimester doesn’t mean you should restrict your food. You and the baby both need fuel and energy to get through those final months before birth.

Can I lose weight while pregnant

Weight loss should not be your goal during pregnancy.

I know that body image and gaining weight can be a really hard part of pregnancy for women, but it is just a natural part of pregnancy.

Your baby grows, there’s fluid, blood volume increases, breast size increases – there are a lot of changes you cannot control, and should not want to control.

Focus on the amazing thing your body is doing during those 9 months, growing a human being!

Weight loss during pregnancy can lead to a small baby, low amniotic fluid, or a myriad of other health concerns.

Again, weight loss should not be a goal during pregnancy.

And if you are losing weight unintentionally during pregnancy, you should contact your healthcare provider.

What happens to belly fat when pregnant

We know that the belly stretches and grows as the baby grows during pregnancy.

Belly fat moves and adjusts as the belly grows. So it may move to the sides or down as the belly grows to make room, but it will still stretch and grow into the round belly shape.

It may take longer for your pregnant belly to “show” if you are overweight, but as the baby grows your belly will, too.

Pregnancy weight gain chart

If you are looking for how much weight is average to gain in each trimester, there is a chart below.

This is just a average – there are many circumstances that could change these numbers on an individual level.

It is also important to note that you do not need to specifically track and obsess over your weight during pregnancy.

If you listen to your hunger cues and eat well, you likely aren’t going to gain “too much” weight during your pregnancy.

And if knowing your weight or seeing your weight on the scale bothers you – you can stand facing backwards on the scale at the doctor and ask them not to share the numbers with you unless they are concerned on a medical level.

I hope this blog helped you understand weight gain during pregnancy.

There is a ton of information out there, so ask your healthcare professional any questions you have, and if you want to work with a personal trainer during pregnancy to make sure you are healthy and doing all you can, make sure they are certified to work with the pregnant population.

Haley Rowe August 9, 2022