Recommended Weight Gain for a Healthy Pregnancy

Discussing weight and/or weight gain can be uncomfortable for many women. However, during pregnancy, tracking weight gain can be an important health indicator. Your weight will be tracked by your provider at regular pre-natal visits. You may also get your weight checked at the WIC clinic.

Weight gain is needed during pregnancy to support the growth and development of the unborn baby. The amount and the rate of weight gain recommended during pregnancy varies based on pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), which is a ratio of weight to height. The weight gain recommendations come from research on healthy pregnancy outcomes. View the grid below for weight gain recommendations.

Pre-Pregnancy BMI Total Weight Gain 2nd & 3rd Trimester
BMI <18.5 28 to 40 pounds 1 to 1.5 pounds/week
BMI 18.5 - 24.9 25 to 35 pounds 1 pound/week
BMI 25 - 29.9 15 to 25 pounds 0.5 to 0.75 pounds/week
BMI < 30 11 to 20 pounds 0.5 pounds or less/week

Gaining too much or too little weight during pregnancy increases the risk of poor outcomes, including:

• The development of gestational diabetes or blood pressure disorders of pregnancy

• Premature birth

• A small for gestational age or large for gestational age infant

• Possible birth defects in the infant

Ever heard that a pregnant woman is eating for two? That statement is misleading. Nutritional and caloric needs do increase during pregnancy, but only slightly. A more accurate statement could read: Every bite counts for more during pregnancy. Making healthy choices during pregnancy not only impacts your health, but also that of your unborn child.

There are many ways you can make healthy choices during your pregnancy, including:

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. You will receive cash value to purchase fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables on your WIC food package. Make it your goal to spend the full amount you receive on yourself every month.

• Make your grains whole grains. In addition to being packed with more nutrients than their refined versions, whole grains contain more fiber which helps with constipation during pregnancy and keeps you feeling full longer. Read the food label and check the ingredients list for whole wheat, whole oats, brown rice or other whole grains as a first ingredient.

• Drink water for thirst. Soda, drink mixes, and even juices can add extra calories without filling you up. During pregnancy you should aim for 3 – 4 cups (8 ounces each) of milk per day, one or no cups of juice, and water when thirsty between meals. If you need help gaining weight, drinking 1 to 2 cups of 100% juice per day is a great way to add nutrient packed calories to your diet.

• Limit processed foods and empty calories. Every bite counts during pregnancy, so make baked goods, chips, candy, soda, and other treats a rarity and fill up on more nutritious foods.

• Snack wisely. A snack does not equal a treat. A snack should be a mini meal, especially as baby grows and takes up more room, it will become harder to eat large quantities at once. Making smart snacking choices is one more way to meet your nutritional needs during pregnancy. For tips and ideas on making the most out of your snacks, talk with one of the WIC nutritionists.

• Stay physically active. Unless you have been directed by your health care provider to limit exercise, engaging in regular physical activity is another way to maintain a healthy pregnancy and help curb unnecessary weight gain. Light to moderate activity, such as walking, or yoga are great ways to stay active during pregnancy. For more exercise recommendations, speak with your health care provider.