All About Pregnancy Weight Gain

weight gain during pregnancy

Putting on weight during pregnancy is not only normal but also healthy. However, when it comes to how much and when, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, as everyone experiences pregnancy weight gain differently. Factors like your body type, your pre-pregnancy weight, whether you’re having multiples, and your general health status all play a role. Read on for more information about pregnancy weight gain and what’s healthy for you and your baby.

Where and Why Do Women Gain Weight During Pregnant?

Where do you tend to gain weight during pregnancy, you may wonder? Some but not all of your pregnancy weight gain consists of body fat around your tummy. But it is helpful to know that the average baby weighs around seven to eight pounds when born, which can be a significant portion of the average weight gain during pregnancy and contribute to your baby bump.

Besides your baby’s weight, other sources of pregnancy weight gain include:

  • Growing uterus (2 pounds)

  • Placenta (1.5 pounds)

  • Amniotic fluid (2 pounds)

  • Growing breasts (1 to 3 pounds)

  • Increased blood volume (3 to 4 pounds)

  • Increased fluid volume (2 to 3 pounds)

  • Extra stores of fat, protein, and other nutrients (6 to 8 pounds).

Of course, fat stores contribute to normal weight gain during pregnancy, and they play an important role. In your first trimester, you may notice some added fat in your lower abdomen, accumulating to protect and support your developing baby. After delivery, you’ll need those extra fat stores to fuel breast milk production. For the most part, however, you’ll gradually lose much of your pregnancy weight gain after your baby is born.

How Much Weight Should You Gain During Pregnancy?

Weight gain during pregnancy is ordinary, healthy, and necessary, but how much weight someone “should” gain is different for each person. Your body and situation will help you set goals for pregnancy weight gain.

Healthcare providers use a measurement known as body mass index (BMI) to determine a healthy and appropriate weight gain range for each individual, keeping pre-pregnancy weight in mind. BMI is a ratio derived by calculating your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters), squared. Although not perfect for every individual body, it estimates a measurement of body fat in most cases.

The general rule is that those with a lower "starting" BMI will have a greater recommended pregnancy weight gain than those with a higher starting BMI. Regardless of your pre-pregnancy BMI, the goal is to gain weight gradually, week by week.

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Recommended Weight Gain During Pregnancy

To help promote a healthy, gradual pregnancy weight gain during each trimester, you and your healthcare provider may rely on the following guidelines:

  • First trimester. During your first 13 weeks of pregnancy, a healthy weight gain generally ranges from no gain at all to about five pounds. It’s also possible to lose weight during these first few months, especially if you’re dealing with morning sickness. You don’t necessarily need to include any extra calories in your diet during your first trimester.

  • Second and third trimesters. Not all women need to add extra calories, but your provider may recommend including about 340 extra calories a day during your second trimester, and about 450 extra calories a day in your third trimester. With your baby growing steadily, it’s possible to gain between one-half and one pound each week if you started your pregnancy at a healthy weight.

The guidelines may vary depending on your BMI and other factors, such as if you’re expecting twins or multiples. It’s always best to talk to your healthcare provider before adjusting your diet during pregnancy.

Important Reminders for Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain

A few additional points to keep in mind concerning pregnancy weight gain and calorie increases or decreases:

  • Listen to your body. There’s no need to force yourself to exceed your calorie intake if you’re not hungry. Instead, listen to your body, follow a healthy pregnancy nutrition plan, and discuss your calorie needs with your healthcare provider if you’re still unsure.

  • Don’t actively try to lose weight. Dieting while pregnant isn’t generally healthy, but still, be mindful of the foods you consume. Try to include lots of nutritious, healthy food rather than falling victim to the “eating for two” mentality that may lead to unhealthy food choices.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider. If you’re overweight or underweight, your healthcare provider can offer advice on proper nutrition and other ways to keep you and your baby healthy throughout your pregnancy. Your provider will consider your unique body and situation before advising how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Weight Gain Chart

To help you visualize the general recommendations above, we’ve created a pregnancy weight gain chart for singletons and twins by week. Talk to your healthcare provider about using the chart to help guide and manage your pregnancy weight gain.

Your healthcare provider will check your weight at your first prenatal care visit. You’ll also discuss your BMI and what it means for your individual pregnancy. At each visit after that, you’ll track your pregnancy weight gain together, and you can use the above chart as a general guideline.

You can also use the graph below to track your pregnancy weight gain:

Most likely, you’ll gain weight gradually, but your provider will help you along if you gain too little or too much, which could cause issues for you and/or your newborn as follows:

  • Women who gain too little weight during pregnancy tend to deliver smaller babies, who might suffer from specific health problems. If you fall into this category, your healthcare provider may suggest adding extra, healthy calories to your diet.

  • Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy risk developing health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypertension. If you’re overweight, your provider may suggest adjusting your diet and adding light exercise to your routine.

Actively gaining or losing weight while pregnant may not be necessary, even if you start your pregnancy underweight or overweight. It’s best to consult your healthcare provider, who can offer ways to adjust your diet and daily routine.

Pregnancy Weight Gain: Week by Week

Gradual weight gain during pregnancy is ideal, and you can track your weight by weeks within individual trimesters. By doing this, you can get a general idea of how much weight you’re gaining. This article provides guidelines for weight gain within an average pregnancy (with a single baby starting at a normal BMI). If you’re having multiples or start with a lower or higher pre-pregnancy BMI, discuss your ideal weight gain with your healthcare provider and use this guide for general knowledge.

Pregnancy Weight Gain: First Trimester

Your first trimester typically includes weeks 1 to 13. Remember that during these early weeks of pregnancy, you probably won’t see steady weight gain. So, how much weight should you gain in the first trimester? Everyone is different, but the average weight gain for a normal pregnancy could be up to five pounds during the first three months—although it’s also possible to lose weight during this initial period.

  • Weeks 1 to 4. During your first month of pregnancy, it’s possible not even to know that you’re pregnant! You might not feel any symptoms or notice any weight gain. This has to do with the way many healthcare providers track your pregnancy, using the Last Menstrual Period (LMP) method.

    • If your pregnancy starts at the beginning of your last menstrual period, then you wouldn’t have ovulated (and, therefore, conceived) until after 14 days (assuming you have a 28-day cycle).

    • Because you wouldn’t be technically pregnant until week 3, it’s rare to gain any weight during your first month of pregnancy.

  • Weeks 5 to 8. Although your body will be going through quite a bit of change during these weeks, you still might not gain much weight. In fact, if you’re experiencing morning sickness, it’s possible to lose weight during this time.

    • Hormonal changes might cause digestive issues, prompting nausea, vomiting, or specific food aversions.

      • However, these same hormones might cause your breasts to get bigger as milk-producing glands enlarge, which could contribute to some minor weight gain.

  • Weeks 9 to 13. If you do gain any weight in your first trimester, it’s likely to occur during these weeks as your morning sickness, and other digestive issues, may start to subside.

    • Your breasts continue to get bigger due to growing milk-producing glands, so they may feel fuller or heavier.

    • It’s possible to have gained up to five pounds, thanks to your growing breasts, placenta, and uterus, plus an increased volume of amniotic fluid and blood.

Pregnancy Weight Gain: Second Trimester

When do you truly start gaining weight in your pregnancy? Your second trimester, which typically includes weeks 14 to 27, is when you might begin to see that gradual weight gain. During your second trimester, you could be adding half a pound and then a pound of weight a week. As mentioned above, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should start increasing your daily calorie intake.

  • Weeks 14 to 17. You may start to gain half a pound a week, up to two or three pounds in total. It’s not unusual to see more weight gain one week compared to another.

  • Weeks 18 to 22. During these weeks, it’s possible to see up to one pound of pregnancy weight gain per week (or up to four pounds in total). In particular, you might notice your breasts have grown one or two cup sizes. By the end of week 20 of your pregnancy, you might see up to 10 extra pounds on the scale, or more!

  • Weeks 23 to 27. Your baby’s development is starting to impact your weight gain, as your little one will probably hit the one-pound mark by 24 weeks! Though you may gain about four pounds in total during this period, what you put on each week may vary. You may continue to add about one pound on average.

Pregnancy Weight Gain: Third Trimester

The third trimester typically consists of weeks 28 to 40 and beyond. At this point in your pregnancy, your weight gain may start to look fairly consistent at about one pound per week. So, how much weight do you gain in the third trimester? It’s possible to gain an extra 12 pounds or so, but keep in mind that healthy weight gain is different for each person.

  • Weeks 28 to 31. As you settle into your third trimester, you might start to gain weight more consistently—at a rate of about one pound each week.

    • This weight probably won’t include fat, though. Instead, weight gain in these weeks of pregnancy is usually from your developing baby, growing placenta, and increased fluids (amniotic and body tissue fluids).

    • Weight gain could also cause aches and pain or other sensations, like tingling, numbness, or swelling in your joints, wrists, and hands. These symptoms typically subside once you deliver your baby and lose your pregnancy weight.

  • Weeks 32 to 35. You’re in the home stretch of your pregnancy, and you may gain about a pound a week. You don’t want to gain too much during these final weeks, especially if you had a higher pre-pregnancy BMI. Continue to work with your healthcare provider and keep an eye on your weight.

  • Weeks 36 to 40. During your final weeks of pregnancy, your baby is nearly fully developed. This means that you might not notice as much weight gain or even gain any at all. In fact, you may even lose a pound or two during this time!

To help you visualize your pregnancy weight gain week by week, we’ve included a general breakdown of trimester weeks in the chart below. Of course, any weight gain during pregnancy is related to your pre-pregnancy BMI and individual situation. For example, if you’re experiencing a twin pregnancy, you can expect to gain more weight. The chart below provides estimates for women with a normal pre-pregnancy BMI and expecting one baby.

Pregnancy Weight Gain Tracker

To make sure you’re gaining an appropriate amount of weight, as advised by your healthcare provider, it may help to use a tracker. You can start with our Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator to find the ideal weight gain range for your unique pregnancy. Then, after talking to your provider, track your pregnancy weight gain week by week. This will help you understand if you’re on the right path, gaining too much or gaining too little.

Download our pregnancy weight gain tracker to help you along the way!

To know what to anticipate as your pregnancy progresses, including body changes and baby development, check out our pregnancy calendar.

How to Maintain a Healthy Weight During Pregnancy

It’s not easy to depict appropriate pregnancy weight gain in a chart or graph because everyone is different. Your pre-pregnancy BMI will impact how much weight you are advised to gain, as will other factors. Here are some general tips for maintaining a healthy weight while gaining those necessary and inevitable pounds during pregnancy.

  • Enjoy a healthy, varied diet. Maintaining a balanced diet during pregnancy is important to your health and the health of your baby. Include healthy carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your daily diet, focusing on foods that offer a range of vitamins and minerals. Essential nutrients for your pregnancy include vitamins A, B, C, and D, plus calcium and iron, and, of course, folic acid.

  • Plan meals. When you're dealing with cravings, aches and pains, or morning sickness, it can be extra challenging to prepare healthy choices on the spot. Instead, spend some time planning and preparing meals and snacks ahead of time. Ask your partner, family, or friends to help!

  • Add calories little by little. If extra calories are needed, you can support gradual weight gain by increasing your calories slowly. If you’re having a single baby and start your pregnancy with a normal BMI, you may add about 340 daily calories during your second trimester. Then, add about 450 a day during your third trimester. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have any questions, are having multiples, or started with a low or high BMI.

  • Get moving and stay active. Exercise may be the last thing you want to do while pregnant, but it can help you maintain an appropriate weight and support gradual weight gain. Plus, exercise can help ease aches and pain, prepare your body for labor, and increase energy and mood! As a bonus, exercising now might make losing weight postpartum a little bit easier.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice any rapid weight gain early in your pregnancy or want to know how to slow down unhealthy pregnancy weight gain. Every individual body and pregnancy is unique, so your best source of support is your provider, who can help you navigate your individual experience.

The Bottom Line

Although gaining weight during pregnancy is normal, healthy, and expected, it’s not the easiest thing—emotionally or physically—to navigate. We hope you'll find it more manageable with the help of this guide and our pregnancy weight gain chart and tracker. A few key takeaways include the following:

  • Everyone is different. Most pregnancy weight gain guides, charts, and trackers are general because every pregnancy is different. Our resources function as a foundation and guide but talk with your healthcare provider to understand your personal pregnancy weight goals.

  • Weight gain should be gradual. Above all else, your pregnancy weight gain should be gradual and somewhat consistent. If it’s not, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider. This means you can focus less on how much you might be gaining at one time and more on your pregnancy as a whole.

  • Consider your BMI. Although BMI isn’t the best indicator of overall health, it’s helpful when determining your ideal pregnancy weight gain. If you have a lower pre-pregnancy BMI, your healthcare provider may advise you to gain more weight throughout your pregnancy, whereas if yours is higher, you may need to gain less.

  • Enjoy a varied diet and light exercise. Help maintain a healthy pregnancy weight with a balanced diet and light exercise.

  • Speak with your healthcare provider. Pregnancy is a long journey, and your healthcare provider is your best source of support, advice, and guidance for your unique situation.

And remember, once your little one is born, you’ll start to lose that baby weight and enjoy time with your sweet newborn! All those cuddles, baby sounds, and diaper changes will quickly distract you. Download the Pampers Club app as you prepare to stock your nursery, earning rewards after purchasing all those newborn baby essentials.