Weight Control During Pregnancy

Weight guidelines for Pregnancy – A woman’s body is made to bear a child. In order to do that, you will have to gain some weight. For most women that weight will ideally be somewhere between fifteen and thirty-five pounds.( see below for the IOM guidelines). You’ll put that amount of weight on in nine months time. No matter how you look at it, that’s a significant amount of weight to gain in that timeframe. Losing that amount of weight would be hard for anyone to lose. The good news, is that the pregnancy weight you will have to lose will go when the baby is born and 6 weeks post-baby. The rest is up to you and how you take care of yourself. You’re left with loose skin, loose muscles and probably a few more lbs. than going into the pregnancy. You may be asking yourself where all of this weight comes from and the answer is that a majority of it comes from the baby itself (7 to 8 pounds) and your increasing muscle tissue and fluid (4 to 7 pounds). Other sources of weight gain are from the placenta and amniotic fluid that protect the baby (3 to 4 pounds); increased size of breasts (approximately one pound); increased size of uterus (2 pounds); increased blood volume (3 pounds); and finally increased body fat (5 or more pounds).

*Note: Research suggests that women in the Obese category may benefit more from gaining no weight during the pregnancy. Many doctors suggest women will have a much healthier pregnancy and walk out of the hospital at a lower weight than pre-pregnancy. This theory gets rid of the viscous cycle many obese women face – studies suggest obese women are more likely to keep the pregnancy weight between subsequent pregnancies, therefore compounding the weight gain/retention.

Institute of Medicine 2009 Weight Gain Guidelines

Category BMI Range Appropriate Weight Gain
Underweight 18.5 or less 28 – 40 pounds
Healthy Weight 18.5 – 24.9 25 – 35 pounds
Overweight 25 – 29.9 15 – 25 pounds
Obese Greater than 30 11 – 20 pounds
You can easily find your BMI on any online BMI calculator. Use your pre-pregnancy weight in the calculation.


In 2009 the American Dietetic Association came out with the article on Women who do not gain enough weight during pregnancy. An underweight woman who fails to gain adequately during pregnancy is most likely to give birth to a baby with dangerously low birth weight. Infant birth weight is a very important sign of a child’s future nutrition and health. A low-birth weight baby is defined as one who weighs less than 5 1/2 pounds at full-term and they are 40 times more likely to die in the first year of life than a normal-weight baby. Underweight women need to meet their nutrition needs of minerals, vitamins and all the other necessary nutrients, and they also need to consume enough to safely and reasonably gain weight. Nutritional deficiency, coupled with low birth weight, is the underlying cause of more than half of all deaths worldwide of children under five years of age. Underweight women need to gain about 40 pounds during the course of pregnancy.

Just as an overweight woman needs to determine her BMI and calculate a target weight, so do underweight women. Use the formula above and get started down the road to a healthy weight. By exercising sensibly, you will be able to gain weight while pregnant and maintain the level of fitness you will need to shed any extra pounds you need to post-pregnancy.

Pregnancy, Obesity and Weight Loss

Ongoing research suggests if a woman is obese (over 30 BMI) during pregnancy she does not need to gain more than 15 pounds of additional weight. Some doctors even say some obese women need only gain 3-5 pounds. A woman can actually lose weight (not according to the scale since the baby is growing) off her own body. The baby actually uses up some of mom’s fat and protein stores. That’s not to stay that you should count on losing weight by having a child, obviously, but with all the associated risks of being obese, it’s important that you stay out of that category so you can have a healthy life.

If you don’t lose all the weight gained during pregnancy (which is much easier to do when you only gain the recommended amount to begin with) and you start subsequent pregnancies with 10 extra pounds, where will you be in the next pregnancy? The cumulative effect continues to add up, and it doesn’t take long to get into the obese category. Take care of your body now-during pregnancy-so you don’t have to do all the work later!!!!

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