Pregnancy can be both an exciting and overwhelming time in a woman’s life. Whether it’s a woman’s first pregnancy or her fourth, each experience is different, and new concerns can arise.
One common question women have is “How much weight gain should I expect?”
The answer is not the same for every woman. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the recommended amount of weight gain during pregnancy depends on the woman’s pre-pregnancy weight, more specifically her body mass index (BMI).
BMI is a calculation that takes into consideration a woman’s height and weight, and your doctor will be able to provide this information for you. BMI values fall into four categories: underweight (BMI <18.5), normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9), overweight (BMI 25-29.9), and obese (BMI >30).
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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women who fall into the underweight category should gain 28 to 40 pounds. Women in the normal BMI range should gain 25 to 35 pounds. Those whose pre-pregnancy BMI falls into the overweight range should gain 15 to 25 pounds. For patients whose BMI falls in the obese range, recommended weight gain is 11 to 20 pounds.
One way to ensure that you are gaining the recommended amount of weight during your pregnancy is to be aware of your diet and exercise habits. While many assume that pregnancy is a time for “eating for two,” this isn’t true. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that a pregnant woman should increase her daily caloric intake by only 300 calories per day, which isn’t a lot. It also recommends that pregnant women should strive for 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, five days per week.
Weight gain during pregnancy affects more than just a woman’s ability to fit back into her pre-pregnancy clothes once the baby is born. Weight gain during pregnancy can affect the health of both the woman and the infant. The weight-gain recommendations aim to optimize maternal and neonatal outcomes.
Throughout your pregnancy, your doctor or midwife will monitor your weight at each prenatal visit. By developing a plan and being cognizant of your starting BMI, you will be able to work with your provider to achieve the healthiest pregnancy possible for both yourself and your baby.
Dr. Allison Cook, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Lexington Women’s Health, delivers babies at Baptist Health Lexington.