Pregnancy may be the only time in your adult life when you can watch the numbers on the scale climb steadily upward and be pleased. Weight gain in pregnancy is your body performing an amazing and wonderful feat.
Currently the recommended healthy weight gain during pregnancy is 25 – 35 pounds. Where you fit into this range depends on two factors: your body type and whether you start your pregnancy under, over or close to your ideal weight. Tall and lean women tend to gain less, short and pear-shaped women tend to gain the most, and women of average builds gain somewhere in the middle of the 25- to 35-pound range.
Starting your pregnancy underweight may promote a need for you to gain more weight, approximately 30 – 40 pounds to pay off your debt to your body. On the other hand if you carry excess weight into your pregnancy, you may need to gain less weight, approximately 20 – 25 pounds. Every pregnant woman needs a fat reserve – consider it “baby fat” – to ensure there will always be a steady supply of calories available to her baby in case she under eats for a day or two. Your fat reserve also supplies energy for milk-making after the baby is born. Beginning your pregnancy with a fat reserve doesn’t require another substantial investment. A low fat reserve will require a few pounds of extra fat since it is metabolically necessary.
More important than what the scale shows is what you show. Feeling healthy, looking healthy, and your baby is growing at a steady pace, you are likely to be gaining the right amount of weight for you. By eating the right foods, you really don’t need to think about your weight. The only reason to check the numbers is to help recognize any warning signs of abnormal conditions that would cause a sudden sharp increase in weight gain (e.g., toxemia). Wise practitioners know weight gained during pregnancy is extremely individual and is based on individual body chemistry.
How fast should you put on the weight during pregnancy?
As a rule of thumb, a healthy rate of weight gain for a woman of medium build, starting pregnancy at her idea weight would be:
- 4 pounds during the first trimester. (Add 1 pound if underweight, subtract 1 pound if overweight.)
- 1 pound per week thereafter. (Add ¼ pound if underweight, subtract ¼ pound if overweight)
- During the last month it’s normal for mother to gain less, even though baby is growing quickly. Some mothers normally gain 1 or 2 pounds; some stay the same; and a few may even lose a bit. All are normal.
Most women gain most of their weight during the second trimester, which coincides with the period of most rapid weight gain for baby (from 1 ounce to 2 pounds, or a 32-fold increase). Most women normally bounce up 5 to 10 pounds quickly between 15 and twenty weeks due to the rapidly expanding blood volume necessary to nourish the growing uterus and its resident. Most babies gain 90% of their weight after the fifth month, and 50% of their weight in the last two months.