Anyone can publish on Medium per our Policies, but we don’t fact-check every story. For more info about the coronavirus, see cdc.gov.

Pregnancy and Weight Gain; too Much or Not Enough?

Is it time to pick some dumbbells up, or to stuff my face?

Claudia Vidor
Dec 28, 2019 · 9 min read

Most doctors will tell you that you should gain anywhere between 25–30 pounds through out your pregnancy. You should aim to gain about 3.5 pounds during your first trimester, although more often than not most women find that they lose weight their first trimester. The culprit to this is morning sickness. Some women suffer from such a severe case of morning sickness they can not keep anything down. Chances are your doctor will not be too concerned if you lose a few pounds that first trimester as long as you gain steady throughout the next two trimesters.

Your second trimester is where you will probably put on most of your weight. Most women put on about a pound a week, so roughly four or five pounds a month which brings their second trimester weight gain to about 12–15 pounds. Some women put on more while others put on less. Do not be surprised if you put on a lot of weight one month and not so much your next.

For the 7th and 8th month you will should probably continue about a pound each week or so. Look to gain between 8 and 10 pounds those months. Most women find that their weight gain slows down in the 9th month. You might find your weight gain coming to a end as your due date draws nearer. This can be a sign that labor is on the horizon. Or, you may find that your weight gain continues especially if you are retaining a lot of water.

So where does all this weight go?

It doesn’t really make sense that you should gain between 25–30 pounds if your baby is only going to weigh between 7 and 8 pounds. Let’s break down where the extra weight goes.

First, you have your baby. A average baby weights about 7 ½ pounds. Some can weigh more and some weigh less. That amniotic fluid that your baby has been swimming in for the past nine months weighs about 2 pounds. Figure in about 2 pounds for your breast enlargement and 1 ½ pounds for your placenta. Your uterus, which started off about the size of a golf ball has grown to weigh about 2 pounds. Your body should be producing about 4 pounds of extra blood by the end of your pregnancy and about 7 extra pounds of fat. Let’s not forget the extra fluid of about 4 pounds that your body might be holding on to. All this equals to the grand total of about 30 pounds.

Now keep in mind this is just a estimate and not a guarantee of how your weight will fall. There are women who wind up having a 10 pound baby and others who have a 5 pound baby. The key is to maintain a healthy weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Your body needs extra calories and it is best for you and your baby if those extra calories come from food that has a lot of nutritional value such as fruits, vegetables or protein.

When it comes to taking the weight off, do not be surprise if your body hangs on to it especially those first days after delivery. Once you are home keep this in mind that it took nine months to gain that weight so gives yourself at least a good nine months to take it off.

Gaining weight too fast during pregnancy.

Any obgyn will tell you that the recommended weight gain for pregnancy is 25–30 pounds. Some women will gain more, some will gain less. But how can you tell if you are gaining too fast during your pregnancy. Too much weight gain can increase your chances of a c section and put you at risk for being overweight after.

Some doctors say that if you put on more than 3 ½ pounds in your first trimester and are of a normal weight you are putting weight on too fast. If you are overweight and put on more than 2 pounds, you are gaining too fast. Keep in mind though that even if you gain a lot in your first trimester, it doesn’t necassararily mean you will gain a lot your whole pregnancy. Some women gain a lot in the first trimester because morning sickness has them only able to eat carbs and nothing else and still end their pregnancy gaining no more than 25 pounds. If however you find that your weight gain is still not slowing down once you enter your second trimester, there are some tips you can try to help slow it down.

First, cut out the useless calories. It is never a good idea to diet while you are pregnant but if you are gaining too much you do need to slow down the rate at which you are gaining. Apply some basic calorie cutting strategies such as grilling or broil instead of frying or sautéing, and avoiding the second help of cake. It is also a wise idea t to cut out most of the empty calories that are providing no nutritional value to you or your baby.

Look at what you are eating and how it may have hidden fat in it. Some salad dressings can be loaded with fat, so you might want to try putting your dressing on the side. Watch how much oil you use when you are cooking or when you are going out to eat and stick to good oils such as extra virgin olive oil.

Get active! You could be gaining weight faster because you are not active. As long as your doctor gives you the go ahead, start a walking program. Walking is one of the best things you can do for your body and your baby. Not only does it help with your weight gain, but some women and doctors swear that walking through out most of your pregnancy could help ease the pains of childbirth. If you can not walk due to weather conditions you might want to look into joining a prenatal exercise class.

Lastly pay attention to what you are eating. So many people don’t pay attention to what they eat and find that they are overeating without even realizing it. How many times have you sat on the couch watching a movie and decided to have some potato chips only to realize that you have eaten the whole bag? Try to keep all your meals at the table and take your time while eating.

Even though you are eating for two, gaining just enough weight will not only make delivery and recovery easier for you, it will also make getting the weight off after pregnancy come off that much faster.

Food cravings during pregnancy

Do pickles and ice cream sound good to you? How about red peppers and peanut butter? If these do, you are probably a pregnant woman who has just gone looking for that ice cream carton you know you have buried in your freezer. More than three quarters of all pregnant women experience cravings at some point. The most common cravings are for sweets, dairy products and salty foods although there are some weird cravings out there. Some women have been known to put black olives on cheesecake, while others have been known to dip fruit in salsa. As bizarre as some cravings can be, they are mainly perfectly safe. There are old wives tales that believe what you crave could be a good indication of the sex of your baby. If you are craving sweets you are having a girl. If you crave meats or cheeses, it is believed you are having a boy.

Cravings are something that most women love most about pregnancy. It is when a woman is craving dirt or clay that an alarm should go off. If you should find yourself craving dirt, soil, or chalk call your doctor right away. Not only could these be harmful if you do eat them, but chances are they are a sign of iron-deficiency anemia.

Most doctors believe that cravings can be nutritionally based. That is to say the cravings are a message from your body on what it needs to eat. If you are craving salts foods it could be because your body needs more sodium as your blood volume increases. If you are craving fruit, your body might need more vitamins C. The problem is sometimes the message gets lost on the way to our brain. You may find yourself craving something sweet and instead of getting berries or fruit, you find yourself gulping down snicker bars by the cart full. There are some ways though you can help curb your cravings.

For starters, eat a good breakfast. Eating a good breakfast can prevent cravings later in the day. You also want to try and make wise choices by looking for healthier alternatives. If you are dying for potato chips try eating some soy crisps. If you feel like candy is calling your name, snack on some frozen grapes. If you want something salty try pretzels, or even rice cakes to satisfy that urge. A good substation for soda would be some fruit juice mixed with sparkling water.

Next, think small. If you are craving chocolate, you do no need to reach for a king size bar. The snack size bar will satisfy your craving just the same. If you want a brownie, have one; just do not eat the whole pan. There is nothing wrong with indulging in a few of your cravings as long as you know not to over do it.

Giving in to your cravings during pregnancy does not make you a bad person and it is not something you should beat yourself up about and feel guilty about. Cravings are a normal part of pregnancy and denying yourself all the time might make you resent being pregnant. Indulge when you want to, just make sure you make wise choices and do everything in moderation.

Gaining weight too slowly during pregnancy

Just as gaining too much weight can be harmful to you and your baby, not gaining enough weight can be harmful also. There are some women out there who are so terrified at gaining weight that they eat next to nothing during their pregnancy. Please do not do this, you could be depriving your baby of the vitamins and minerals it needs and you increase your chances of having a small baby. Babies who are underweight at delivery are at a greater risk for health problems than babies who are of average weight at delivery.

If you find that you have gained nothing during your first trimester, do not worry. Some women do not gain anything during those first three months and some even lose some weight thanks to morning sickness. Your baby’s needs are relatively tiny at that point. It is when you are in your second and third trimesters that you should make sure you are gaining weight according.

If you find that you are not gaining as much weight as you should, you should try to fatten up your diet. Increase your fat intake by a serving or too. This will increase your calorie intake but won’t decrease your appetite. Do not increase your fat by more than a serving or two. There are better and healthier ways to increase your weight gain.

If you are one of the lucky few women who do not gain weight easy, you might not want to foods with the lowest amount of calories. You can still eat healthy but you want to up your calorie intake. Try eating avocados and more cheeses along with some beans too. Indulge in some snacks also. Try to add at least three snacks into your schedule. If you are not allergic to peanuts, try some apple slices with peanut butter or some whole wheat crackers which some cheese slices.

Take some time out of your busy life to relax. Not gaining enough weight could be a sign that you are doing too much. You could be burning up the calories you eat instead of using them to nourish your baby. Try cutting back on your exercise if you have an exercise routine. You also want to make sure you eat after a workout to replace the calories you just lost. If you are working while you are pregnant and it is a stressful job, make sure you take the time out of your busy day for lunch and snacks.

Throughout all of this, check in with your doctor. Your doctor may want to run some tests to make sure that you do not have a thyroid condition or any other undiagnosed medical problem that might keep you from gaining weight. You may also want to keep track of what you eat so you can show your doctor and talk about any changes that might need to be made to your diet. You may not be eating enough and you may find that you need to eat more.

Claudia Vidor

Written by

Qualified Holistic Nutritionist (BhS)- Fertility/ Pregnancy/Postnatal. Mother. Coffee Drinker. @nourishedbyclaudia

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade