Pregnancy Health + Wellness

Weight Gain During Pregnancy – What’s Normal and What’s Not

The body-positive movement has empowered people of all sizes to love their physique. However, the body changes and weight gain throughout pregnancy can challenge any of us. Understanding that these changes are normal and a part of the journey of motherhood can help with acceptance. 

You’re probably asking yourself, how much weight should I gain during pregnancy? Well, that depends on the trimester! In the first trimester, you only need to gain a few pounds. However, it is possible to lose weight during early pregnancy due to morning sickness. Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy occur in many pregnancies, so long as your weight gain picks up afterward, and the baby is making reasonable progress.  If the vomiting worsens or interferes with your daily life, speak to your OB provider.

Your weight gain at this time should be about a pound a week, adding up to about 12 to 15 pounds. Usually, the second trimester is when you will feel like walking on sunshine, the morning sickness has often passed, and your belly is the perfect size to enjoy life. You have an abundance of feel-good hormones running through your system. The second trimester promotes body acceptance because you start to feel better and the baby moves around.  Pregnancy is an exciting time.

In the third trimester, from 28 weeks to birth, you enter the home stretch! At this time, you gain about a pound a week.  However, the tail end of pregnancy differs- some gain a bit more weight due to water retention (hello, swollen ankles!)  Or you may notice that your weight gain slows down as you near your due date and you have less room to eat.

So what is the real scoop?  Thankfully, many healthcare organizations have defined a healthy weight gain during pregnancy. While “eating for two” is joyous, putting on too much weight may be problematic.  It increases your risk for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure in pregnancy, cesarean delivery, or having a large baby, known as macrosomia.  Yet during these nine months, you need to gain enough to help baby thrive.  

Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Month by Month

Most OB professionals recommend a pregnancy weight gain of anywhere between 25 and 30 pounds for a healthy pregnancy. However, the average differs tremendously, yet many still have a healthy baby and a healthy body afterward. Typically you should gain about 3.5 to 4 pounds during the first trimester, about 12 to 15 pounds during the middle trimester, and about 8 to 10 pounds in the last trimester for a total of about 30 pounds or so.

A mother’s average weight gain during pregnancy should be a slow and steady process, which again has to depend on your actual weight and body type. We bring forth some general guidelines to give an insight on weight gain during pregnancy. If you have any health conditions, you should ask your doctor or midwife for specific suggestions.

Let us have a look at the details, which can explain the average weight gain during pregnancy

Take a look at your prepregnancy weight:

Underweight28-40 lbs
Healthy BMI25-35 lbs
Overweight15-25 lbs
ObeseMaximum of 15 lbs
Twin Pregnancy35-45 lbs

Those numbers are broad and don’t break down what you should be doing in the short term. Let’s talk about your pregnancy weight gain per month. 

  • Weight gain during 1st trimester- Gain up to 1 and a half pounds each month for the first 1 to 3 months by consuming about 200 extra calories each day.

After the first trimester, you can start to look at your pregnancy weight gain per week to help you stay on track:

  • Weight gain during 2nd trimester- Gain about 1 pound in a week and a total weight gain of 12 – 14 pounds by adding about 300 extra calories per day.
  • Weight gain during 3rd trimester- Gain about ¾ to 1 pounder per week, and a total of 10-14 pounds by consuming about 300 -500 extra calories daily.

If you are underweight, it is crucial to make sure you gain weight.  There is an increased risk of having small babies at birth by not gaining enough maternal weight by the early second trimester (source). If you are overweight or obese, a new study demonstrates that you may need to gain less weight for the best outcomes than previously recommended. 

More importantly, prepregnancy weight affects outcomes more than pregnancy weight gain.

Many mothers experience jumps in weight throughout the pregnancy, particularly towards the end of the second trimester. Baby has increased caloric demands and is going through a “growth spurt”. Unless your weight is snowballing or you have other health concerns, give yourself grace- you are growing a human!

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Let’s answer the question we are all asking- if you gain about 25 to 30 pounds throughout the last nine months, and your baby weighs about 7.5 pounds, where is all that weight located?

This weight gain during pregnancy chart explains what your body does with the weight gained during pregnancy. 

During a normal pregnancy, your body distributes the weight, as mentioned below.

· Baby 6-8 lbs

· Placenta 1-2 lbs

· Increase in fluid volume is 2-3 lbs

· Increase in blood volume- 3-4 lbs

· Amniotic fluid — 2 lbs

· Uterus enlargement- 2 lbs

· Breast enlargement- 1.2 lbs

· Fat and protein stored (for lactation) – 6-8 lbs

Keep in mind that it takes your body the entire pregnancy to gain the weight. 

Average Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Month by Month

The average full-term baby weighs about 7.5 pounds, but some are peanuts at 5 pounds while others top the scale at a whopping 10 pounds. The amniotic fluid weighs in at about 2 pounds. The placenta will weigh about 1.5 pounds, and lactating breasts will account for about 2 pounds. Your uterus started quite small, about the size of a golf ball, but it has enlarged to accommodate the baby, and it now weighs over 2 pounds. 

You should have about 4 pounds of extra blood circulating in your system, and nature has made sure that you have about 7 pounds of additional fat to save the baby in case of famine. Not to mention, excess fluids adds another 4 pounds. In sum, your total pregnancy packs on around 30 additional pounds.

In a world that touts weight loss before everything, it is crucial to put things in perspective that your body changing in pregnancy is healthy. By gaining weight during pregnancy, your body is doing amazing things while creating this life inside of you. Celebrate body diversity. If you’re looking for more information about this perspective on healthcare, the Health at Every Size principles focuses on respect, critical awareness, and compassionate self-care.  

Everyone is different on this journey- you may gain more weight or a little less. You want to have a healthy baby and pregnancy regardless of the number on the scale by maintaining a healthy weight gain. Your OB provider will weigh you at every appointment, so you will know where you are. Use this opportunity to discuss any weight concerns because numbers can vary among each person.  

Having a healthy pregnancy means eating a nutritious and balanced diet. However, you are going to have cravings! Intuitive eating has positive results.Intuitive eating is the mindful practice of eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are full, and indulging in what your body craves.  This prevents you from stressing about weight gain and focus on nourishing your body, which increases gratitude and strongly impacts body appreciation.

By focusing on eating healthful foods and treating yourself every once in a while, your body will instinctively gain the right weight for you. Try not to worry about weight loss until you are six weeks postpartum. Even at that point, it may not come off quickly- and that is okay! Your body grew a beautiful baby, and it needs time to recuperate. It took the better part of a year for this change to happen, so be patient with your body. 


This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Caitlin Goodwin MSN, CNM, RN About Author

Caitlin Goodwin MSN, CNM, RN has twelve years of experience as a nurse and has dedicated her life to caring for families. She has four children of her own and lives with her husband.