You’re pregnant, and you’re expecting to start gaining weight any day now. And as you know, most women will gain weight while they’re pregnant, while some will oddly lose weight in the process.
Weight gain during pregnancy is normal. But if you’re like most expecting mothers, you’ll have a lot of weight-related questions lingering in the back of your mind – questions you seemingly forget to ask the doctor.
Table of Contents
- When Does Weight Gain in Pregnancy Start?
- What Is the Typical Weight Gain During Pregnancy?
- What If I Gain Too Much or Too Little Weight?
- How Much Food Should I Expect to Eat When Pregnant?
- When Does Weight Gain in Pregnancy Slow Down?
- Pregnancy Weight After Pregnancy
- 6 Ways to Lose Pregnancy Weight
When Does Weight Gain in Pregnancy Start?
Timing matters when it comes to pregnancy. What most expecting mothers don’t realize is that during the first trimester (3 months or 90 days), you’ll likely gain a minimal amount of weight. Your baby is quite small during the first trimester, and the demands placed on your body have not really started to accelerate. In fact, you don’t need any extra calories added to your diet during the first trimester.
Babies grow rapidly, but when you’re newly pregnant, it takes some time for your little one to really enter into the development stages. The development of your baby is what will require additional energy to be needed by the baby. And this additional energy comes from an increase in caloric consumption from the mother – you.
The first few months of pregnancy are interesting. Many women will gain some weight at this time, but the weight is associated with water retention more than the growth of your baby. Your body is likely to swell at this time, so it’s common that women gain a few extra pounds, but nothing too significant.
There is also the chance that you’ll lose weight during the first trimester.
Unless the weight loss is severe, this is nothing to be concerned with. Women that lose weight during the first trimester are likely not eating because they don’t feel well. That morning sickness that many newly pregnant women experience will cause you to feel sick to your stomach and the severity of nausea will vary from person to person.
The question of when you’ll start to gain weight is difficult to answer. Many women will gain water weight – a few pounds – but real weight gain is not likely until the second trimester. During the second trimester, you’ll start to require more caloric intake to keep up with your baby’s development. It’s essential that you gain weight, or at the very least, increase your caloric intake at this time to allow the baby’s development process to continue unhindered.
What Is the Typical Weight Gain During Pregnancy?
So, now that you know when to expect the baby weight to start piling on, the next question is “how much weight will I gain?” And the answer is: it depends. There is no definite figure for each woman, and women with a higher body mass index (BMI) are likely going to gain less weight as a result.
- BMI of less than 18.5: In this range, you can expect to gain 28 – 40 pounds on average.
- BMI of 18.5 – 24.9: In this range, weight gain will be 25 – 35 pounds.
- BMI of 25 – 29.9: Weight gain of 15 – 25 pounds can be expected.
- BMI of 30+: Weight gain should be between 11 and 20 pounds in this BMI range.
But this is just the figure for having a single baby. Women with twins will have higher weight gain as a result. And you can expect to gain:
- BMI of 18.5 – 24.9: 37 – 54 pounds.
- BMI of 25 – 29.9: 31 – 50 pounds.
- BMI of 30+: 25 – 42 pounds.
Women who are expecting twins and have a BMI of less than 18.5 will want to consult with their doctor to find the right estimate of weight gain on a personalized basis.
Remember, these are just general guidelines. It is also possible that you’ll gain more or less weight. And if you’re eating a lot more calories and have untamable cravings, it’s not uncommon to gain even more weight than what is listed above.
You’re growing a baby inside of you, so weight gain during pregnancy is natural – and healthy.
Expect to gain 1 – 5 pounds of weight during your first trimester and 1 pound per week, on average, during your subsequent trimesters.
What If I Gain Too Much or Too Little Weight?
You want your child to come out as the most beautiful and healthiest baby that ever lived. And if you’re not experiencing weight gain or aren’t hitting the right weight gain levels, you may be concerned that something is wrong with your baby or your pregnancy.
There are two main issues associated with too little or too much weight gain:
1. Too Little Weight Gain
A short-term consequence of gaining too little weight is that there is a higher risk of a premature birth. One of the main reasons women gain weight is so that there is a lower risk of preterm birth. You should be giving birth around the 37-week mark. And proper weight gain levels provide an appropriate baby weight, so your baby isn’t too big or too small when delivered. Babies that are too small can have higher risks of heart disease and diabetes as an adult, according to recent studies.
2. Too Much Weight Gain
Gaining too much weight does have a consequence – a long-term consequence. If you gain too much weight, your child is at a higher risk of being overweight and having high blood pressure, according to recent studies.
This doesn’t mean that you have to hit the 28 – 40-pound weight gain range or your baby’s life is at risk if you have a BMI of under 18.5. And while the above charts are a good guideline to follow, the best guideline can be provided by your physician or midwife. When in doubt, ask a professional how much weight you should be gaining when you’re pregnant.
Routine visits and checkups will also be vital to your baby’s development. If you do have checkups and doctor visits often, any concerns can be met with immediate dietary changes to ensure your baby is as healthy as possible upon delivery.
How Much Food Should I Expect to Eat When Pregnant?
A balanced diet is vital to your baby’s health and development. You don’t want to eat a diet of just ice cream or a diet filled with bad-for-you foods. Instead, you still want to eat a balanced diet filled with protein, carbs, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits. Junk food is even acceptable in moderation.
Your pregnancy needs will require you to eat more calories of a specific amount per day than you currently eat.
A food journal is recommended. A food journal allows you to keep track of your caloric consumption throughout your pregnancy, and if you start in your first trimester, you’ll be able to tell how many more calories you need to eat per day. If you don’t have a base number of calories to eat, online calculators will judge how many calories you need to eat to sustain your normal weight, and you can use this as your base calories.
In terms of extra calories that will need to be eaten per day, you can expect to eat:
- 350 calories more in the second trimester.
- 450 calories more in your third trimester.
If you’re a woman who is very active, you’ll need to increase these calorie amounts to adjust to for amount of calories you do burn. A woman with twins will need 600+ more calories per day during her third trimester on average.
When Does Weight Gain in Pregnancy Slow Down?
Normally? Never. Most women will start to gain weight in the second trimester and continue to gain weight until the baby is born. Some women will note small periods where they do not gain any weight, normally around week 28 – 32, but this isn’t always the case.
In terms of pregnancy, you’ll continue to gain weight until your baby is born because of the demand for energy during the final trimester.
A lot, or should I say the majority, of development, occurs during the third trimester. Since the development is rapidly increasing, your body will be under a higher demand for energy, and you’ll eat more and gain more weight as a result.
Pregnancy Weight After Pregnancy
You’re not yet used to the extra weight, and unless you’re very lucky, you won’t fit into your normal pants or dress size anytime soon. In fact, weight gain during pregnancy will need to be worked off the good old fashion way – dieting and exercise.
But Mother Nature also propels your weight loss for you.
When you’re delivering, you’ll automatically lose the weight of your baby. If your baby is 7.8 pounds, you’ll automatically lose 7.8 pounds. And all of the amniotic fluid and other fluids expelled during pregnancy can add up, too. The exact weight varies, but most women will lose 8 – 12 pounds of bodily fluid during labor.
So, you have the potential to lose 15 – 20 pounds (estimated) of weight immediately following birth.
And if you gained 40 pounds (the highest amount recommended for a single baby), you’ll have gained a realistic 20 – 25 pounds of weight that is now ready to be burned off. But is there anything you can do during your pregnancy to offset all of this weight gain? Can you be relatively fit when you’re pregnant and still have a healthy baby? Yes.
If you stay active while pregnant, you’ll find that it’s easier to lose all of the baby weight.
6 Ways to Lose Pregnancy Weight
Don’t let weight gain during pregnancy drag you down. You can take action right now and start losing all of the extra weight as quickly as possible. A few ways to start losing the pregnancy weight include:
When you swim, you’ll loosen up the joints and burn a lot of calories in the process. Many doctors recommend swimming while you’re pregnant to keep the baby weight off and stay healthy. Also, the extra exercise will help you start feeling better.
2. Eat Healthy
You don’t want to go on a strict diet, especially if you’re breastfeeding. When breastfeeding, your baby will need vital nutrients from you. Instead, start to eat healthy with lots of vegetables and fruits added to your diet.
3. At-Home Workouts
As a new mom, you may not have time for the gym. But what many mothers will do instead is a workout with their baby in their arms. Yes, really. A routine of sit-ups, squats and arm lifts all while holding your baby (safely, of course) can help you lose weight. Don’t be afraid to throw in a few squats during play time, too.
4. Walk, Walk, Walk
You want to stay active – it’s the most important thing. And your baby will enjoy a good stroll outside, too. Go to the park, mall or simply take a stroll around the neighborhood each and every day. A good 15 minute to an hour walk will do the trick.
You read that right: “baby-friendly.” Many gyms will allow you to bring your baby and leave them in a form of “gym-care” where someone will watch your baby as you exercise. This is a great way to get rid of the excuse not to go to the gym and start losing weight.
Your body has gone through a major transformation. And you likely have aches and pains from your ankles to your lower back and even hips. A good way to start alleviating this pain while losing the baby weight is to do yoga. A few sessions a week is all you need to start shedding the extra weight.
Losing weight is a math game. You need to consume fewer calories than you burn to create a caloric deficit and lose weight. While it sounds easy to do, it is much harder than it sounds. What you need to do is stay motivated and find fun ways to get moving. And if you’re really dedicated, start a good journal to get a better understanding of the calories you take in and how many calories you burn daily.