The Weight Factor In Pregnancy


I’m not going to lie, seeing my body change so drastically throughout my pregnancy has been difficult, even though I know that all these changes are necessary for the development of a healthy baby.

Did you know that about one third of the weight gained during pregnancy is fat? Your body does this on purpose! This storage of fat is most prominent during the first and second semester. Fat is stored opposite the growth rate of your baby, which is rapid during the last half. Stored fat provides a reserve of calories for you and your baby to use during the last few weeks of pregnancy when you may not be able to keep up with the nutritional needs of the baby. As you get bigger, it gets harder to eat large, heavy meals.

Just how much weight are you supposed to gain?

The first step is knowing your pre-pregnancy weight. Based on your weight before the baby-weight gain, you’ll know your projected target range. On average, a person should gain 1 pound every month during the first trimester. During the second and third trimester, you should gain about 3-4 pounds a month.

Pre-pregnancy weight                                          Recommended weight gain

  • Underweight (BMI < 18.5)                          28 to 40 lbs
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9)              25 to 35 lbs
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9)                      15 to 25 lbs
  • Obese (BMI 30 or more)                             11 to 20 lbs

Weight Breakdown:

  • Baby 7-8 pounds
  • Placenta 1-2 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid 2-3 pounds
  • Uterus 2 pounds
  • Increased blood supply 3-5 pounds
  • Fluid, fat, breast tissue 10 pounds

Total: 25-30 pounds

How To Manage Your Weight

I found the following suggestions helpful during those growing months.

1.) Cravings are very telling. Pay attention to your body. During my fifth month, I craved dairy like never before! I actually had my first glass of milk in years. That said- choose wisely.  Caramel toffee ice cream does not provide the same nutrition as kefir mixed with berries and a little honey. Select nutrient dense versions of your cravings. Usually it satisfies the craving just fine! 

2.) Stay away from refined grains and added sugars. These are not only going to be empty calories leading to excess weight gain, but they also exacerbate what is called “pregnancy brain.” This fogginess can be worsened by foods that spike and lower our blood sugars.

3.) Enjoy small, relatively frequent meals and snacks. As I mentioned in my previous pregnancy post, you are only supposed to eat 150-200 calories more during the first trimester, and about 300 calories during the second and third. That’s not a lot! It’s equivalent to an additional snack or small meal per day. I know that hardly seems fair, but frequent smaller meals can help you feel like you are having more food that you actually are.

4.) Stay active. I realized around week 22 that my back was achy and my legs would get  wobbly every time I would go up the stairs. This was new and not the norm! I realized that the additional weight was taking a toll on my body. So, I started working out with a prenatally certified trainer, Diane Giresi, CPT. Just one session a week has done the trick! A lot of squats, TRX movements, and planks have helped me with the weight progression. Exercise improves circulation, decreases fatigue, and helps you retain lean muscle - all of these things will help with a healthy delivery and the recuperation of your body post-pregnancy.

Recommendation: Do not start a new exercise routine during pregnancy. Get approval from your doctor on what you can and cannot do. In general, it is recommended to keep some kind of exercise regimen. My goal is to work out 3 times a week (for at least an hour) and walk as much as possible!

5.) Monitor your weight. Even though your doctor will be checking your weight at each visit, I suggest keeping track on your own even if it’s getting on the scale once a week. At the beginning, you are seeing your doctor once a month, and trust me, a lot can happen in just one month of pregnancy!

Stay tuned for the next post: Pregnancy & Digestion. Boy, do I have a lot to say about that!… 

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN. Edited by Tamara Cabrero.