You’ve received the good news that you’re about to embark on a journey to bring a new life into the world. As you take your first look at the maternity section of your favorite store, you may start to wonder about how much weight gain is the right amount for you.
And it’s a good question to ask yourself, because maintaining the right weight throughout your pregnancy is vital to your health and to the health of your child. At the Center for Women’s Health in Oxford, North Carolina, we tell our patients that’s there’s no Golden Rule that applies across the board, but there are rules of thumb.
To help you stay on track throughout your pregnancy when it comes to weight, we’ve outlined a few things you should know, covering the spectrum from too little to too much.
By the numbers
When figuring out how much weight you should ultimately gain during your pregnancy, you need to first consider from where you’re starting. To do that, we need to turn to your BMI, or body mass index. This simple number is a measurement of your body fat ratio based on your height and weight, and here’s how the numbers break out:
- Under 18.5 — underweight
- 18.5-24.9 — normal weight
- 25-29.9 — overweight
- Over 30 — obese
Armed with this starting number, here are the weight gain numbers we recommend for each category:
- Under 18.5 BMI — 28 to 40 pounds
- Between 18.5 and 24.9 BMI — 25 to 35 pounds
- Between 25 and 29.9 BMI — 15 to 25 pounds
- Over 30 BMI — 11 to 20 pounds
It’s important to note that these numbers are parameters because every woman is different. During your first prenatal visit here at the Center for Women’s Health, we give you more specific guidelines that we can adjust, as needed, throughout your pregnancy.
Many women ask us how the weight is distributed in a pregnancy, which is a great question. For a woman of average weight, with an average pregnancy, the numbers break out like this:
- Baby: 7-8 pounds
- Placenta: 2-3 pounds
- Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
- Breast tissue: 2-3 pounds
- Increased blood volume: 4 pounds
- Fat and energy storage: 7-8 pounds
- Increased fluids: 3-4 pounds
- Uterus: 2 pounds
Although these numbers represent an average, you can see where your starting weight might factor in, especially under fat and energy storage. Having too much or too little in this area can lead to problems, which brings us to the following.
Too low or too high
To help you understand why we’re so concerned with your weight, here’s a small glimpse at some of the complications that can arise from too much or too little weight gain during your pregnancy.
Let’s start with not having enough weight. If you begin your pregnancy underweight, you have some catching up to do. Your body is already hard pressed to get the nutrients it needs to function at a healthy level, never mind having to give up some to a growing fetus.
If you don’t get your weight up to within the recommended numbers, you run the risk of a preterm birth or small for gestational age (SGA) baby.
If you’re starting with extra body weight, you don’t want to add too much as you have much of what’s needed already in place. If you add too much weight, you run the risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and you increase your odds of needing a Cesarean section delivery.
Though our intent is not to scare you unnecessarily, we do want to help you understand why we pay special attention to your weight throughout your pregnancy.
Again, to determine what’s best for you, it’s a good idea to sit down with us to review your current weight and your goals. Please give us a call, or use our online scheduling tool on this website to find out more.