Normal Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Weight gain is normal during pregnancy; hence there is no need to panic. In fact, if a woman doesn’t gain weight during pregnancy the baby would be in danger. The balance trick can be very difficult – wherein a woman has to gain appropriate amount of weight required for pregnancy, while at the same time avoid excessive weight gain leading to complications.

An average weighing woman will probably gain 20- 35 pounds during pregnancy, which includes the weight of the growing baby, and changes in the body of pregnant woman. The formation of placenta and amniotic fluid, growth in breasts, increase in blood volume, and the weight of tissue fluid – all contribute towards the weight gain in pregnant woman. But there is no excuse for a pregnant woman to take in high calorie diet and gain unnecessary weight as women are highly sensitive not only to weight gain, but also to weight retention during pregnancy.

Distribution of weight

Normal distribution of weight in a pregnant woman is as follows:


Baby – 7 pounds (3,180 grams)

Placenta – 1 pound (455 grams)

Amniotic fluid – 2 pounds (910 grams)

Uterus – 2 pounds (910 grams)

Breasts – 1 pound (455 grams)

Fat stores – 7 pounds (3,180 grams)

Body water – 4 pounds (1,820 grams)

Extra blood – 3 pounds (1,360 grams)

During the first trimester, if there is excessive weight gain, then it is not healthy. As you can see in the above table, not much weight is contributed by the baby during this period. After childbirth, a woman will lose nearly 12 pounds of weight, but will be left with another 12-16 pounds of the baby weight to be dealt with.

Body Mass Index and Recommended Weight Gain

Following table shows what your normal weight gain should be like given your body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy:

BMI Before PregnancyHow Good?Recommended Weight Gain
Less than 19.8underweight28 to 40 pounds (12.5 to 18 kilograms)
19.9 to 26normal25 to 35 pounds (11.5 to 16 kilograms)
26 to 29overweight15 to 25 pounds (7 to 11.5 kilograms)
29 or moreobese15 pounds (6 kilograms) or less

During pregnancy, being underweight is as much a problem as being overweight is. An underweight woman may not be able to provide sufficient amount of nutrients to the growing baby; hence, it is recommended she consult a nutritionist for proper guidance for her dietary needs.

However, being overweight doesn’t necessarily mean that the mother is providing enough nutrients for the growing baby – especially if the mother is deriving her calories from poor nutritional sources. Therefore it is important to check if the mother is having a good balanced diet or not.

Overweight pregnant women may face problems like:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Higher risk for cesarean section, shoulder dystocia, C-section complications, back pain and limited mobility during pregnancy
  • Excessive stretch marks

A mom-to-be can do moderate exercise which will not stress her, to maintain her shape and also make the labor and delivery easy. Walking is the best exercise for a pregnant woman because it helps her remain fit, while keeping the baby safe. Swimming is also considered a safe and healthy way to keep check on weight gain during pregnancy.