Healthy weight gain during pregnancy depends greatly on your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Your doctor will help you figure out how much weight gain is healthy while pregnant based on your personal BMI. However, if you’re carrying one baby, use this general breakdown of recommended weight gain based on BMI categories:
- Underweight (BMI less than 18.5): 28 to 40 pounds
- Normal/healthy weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9): 25 to 35 pounds
- Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9): 15 to 25 pounds
- Obese (BMI 30 or greater): 11 to 20 pounds
The healthier weight you are when you become pregnant, the more you can gain and still remain at a healthy weight for you and your baby.
Unfortunately, being pregnant is not a free ticket to eat anything and everything in large amounts. In fact, to support your baby’s growth and development, you only need about 300 more calories per day while pregnant—which is about the difference of a couple more low-calorie snacks each day.
No one’s delivering 30-pound babies—and amniotic fluid can only count for so much—so where is all this weight coming from? Here’s a standard breakdown:
- Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
- Baby: 7 to 8 pounds
- (Larger) Breasts: 2 pounds
- Fat, protein and other nutrients: 6 to 8 pounds
- Increased blood volume: 3 to 4 pounds
- Placenta: 1½ pounds
- (Larger) Uterus: 2 pounds
Once your baby has entered the world, the pounds will, naturally, come off. But how much—and how long will it take? You’ll lose just about all the weight gained during pregnancy, but it will take time and effort. By eating a healthy diet, exercising at least 150 minutes each week and getting enough rest, you will start shedding pounds in no time. Breastfeeding can help you burn extra calories to give you a jump-start on weight loss. If you struggle to lose weight or need help coming up with a weight management plan, talk with your doctor, who can help you figure out a plan right for you.