Almost every day, a pregnant woman asks me what is normal in terms of weight gain during pregnancy. Here are few basic things to keep in mind about how weight gain and pregnancy work:

1- Doctors recommend women at a healthy weight (BMI of 19-25) gain between 25 and 35 pounds, and women that are overweight or obese gain between 10 and 25 pounds. This is an important distinction, as more than a third of American women were classified as obese in a recent study. Long story short, if you are not underweight (BMI under 19) you don’t need to gain a whole lot of weight to have a healthy pregnancy.

2- Eating for two is a myth. During pregnancy, your body only needs about 300 extra calories—that’s not much more than 2 glasses of milk! Doubling your normal caloric intake under the guise of “eating for two” will quickly take you out of the healthy weight gain levels mentioned above.

3- So the real question is, how does the weight gain work during pregnancy? First off, it’s not linear. Most women experience the bulk of their weight gain between 20 and 28 weeks. Second, many women plateau or lose weight at the end of their pregnancy– because the baby’s size makes their stomach so small. If you are looking to keep your weight gain between 25 and 35 pounds, a good way to know if you are on track is to keep the number of pounds you’ve gained below how many weeks pregnant you are. So, if you are 30 weeks pregnant, and have gained 25 pounds, you are good to go. This works because so many women stop gaining and start losing weight around 35 weeks.

These are all just general guidelines, and as every pregnancy is different, every woman’s weight gain will be different. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about what is normal, and consult with a registered dietician or nutritionist if you have questions about what or how much you should be eating.

How did your weight gain progress during pregnancy? What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

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