How much Weight Should I Gain during Pregnancy?

AllisonMS, RDN, CDN

Read time: 4 minutes

What to know about the importance of gaining weight during pregnancy

  • Why gaining the recommended amount of weight is important during pregnancy

  • When to increase your food intake and what types of food to eat

  • Understand the risks of gaining too much or too little weight and how to stay on a track

Gaining the recommended amount of weight in pregnancy is linked with positive benefits for both you and your baby. You are more likely to be well-nourished, your baby will be more likely to develop well and grow to an appropriate gestational size, and you’ll have an easier time carrying your baby to term and then returning to your pre-pregnancy weight.1,4

Learn More: Coping with A Fear of Weight Gain in Pregnancy

How much weight should you gain during pregnancy?

The recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy are based on your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI).1,4 Should you want to, you can calculate your BMI by dividing your pre-pregnancy weight in kilograms by your height in meters, squared (or just use an online BMI calculator).2

Here are some general weight gain recommendations (note that BMI calculations offer helpful guidelines but are not perfect indicators so always talk with your health care provider about the best weight gain plan for you:31,4

Pre-pregnancy weight category


Recommended total weight gain for one baby

Recommended total weight gain for twins


< 18.5

28-40 lbs

50-62 lbs

Normal Weight


25-35 lbs

37-54 lbs



15-25 lbs

31-50 lbs



11-20 lbs

25-42 lb

If you are carrying more than two babies you should talk with your healthcare provider about your expected weight gain.1,4

Learn More: Nutrition and Weight Gain Recommendations during a Multiple Pregnancy

How much weight should I gain each trimester during pregnancy?

The recommended pattern of weight gain during pregnancy is about one pound per week during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.1 Underweight women should gain slightly more and overweight women should gain slightly less.1

Keep in mind that these recommendations are based on averages. It’s ok if your weight gain pattern differs from the approximately 1 pound per week in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.1 Some women experience slightly more weight gain one month followed by slightly less weight gain the next.1 What’s important is that you’re not consistently gaining too much or too little weight.

Some women even experience weight loss during the first trimester due to morning sickness. If you are losing weight (especially if it’s more than a few pounds) you should address this with your healthcare provider.

Read more: Strategies for Managing Morning Sickness

How much extra should you eat during pregnancy?

No extra calories during the first trimester are needed.

Although nutrient needs increase during the first trimester, your body does not yet need additional calories to support your baby (the fetus is still very small!).5,7 You can achieve the increased need for nutrients by eating quality foods (think whole foods, minimally processed) and the steady (not yet increased) need for energy by eating no more than you were eating before you got pregnant.

Weight maintenance or slight weight gain (about 1-4.5 pounds) in the first trimester is perfectly normal.5

Calorie needs go up in the second and third trimester.

Although it may be tempting to “eat for two”, instead try “thinking for two” and upgrade your dietary choices without overdoing your total dietary intake. This means choosing nutrient dense foods is more important now than ever.9

If you were a healthy weight before you became pregnant, you will need about 340 additional calories per day during your second trimester and about 450 additional calories per day during your third trimester.7

Read more: How Much should I Eat while Pregnant?

Where does the extra weight go during pregnancy?

It may feel like all of your weight gain is in your belly, but the weight you gain during pregnancy is actually distributed to several areas of your body.

For a 30 pound weight gain during pregnancy, the average weight distribution is:5,6




7.5 pounds

Maternal fat, protein, and nutrient stores

7 pounds


4 pounds


2 pounds

Breast tissue

2 pounds

Blood volume

2 pounds

Amniotic fluid

2 pounds

Avoiding excessive weight gain during pregnancy will help you to:

  • Reduce pregnancy symptoms such as heartburn, leg cramps, backaches, and lack of sleep

  • Continue to move around and stay physically active

  • Decrease the risk of preeclampsia, labor complications, and preterm birth

  • Decrease the risk of giving birth to a baby with an increased birth weight

  • Maintain a healthy pregnancy and positively impact your and your baby’s future health

  • Get back to a healthy postpartum weight5,11

Gaining enough weight during pregnancy will help you to:

  • Get enough nutrients for you and your baby

  • Decrease the chance of your baby having a low birth weight, microcephaly, and nutrient deficiencies

  • Decrease the risk for preterm birth12,13

Tips for gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy

Keep a consistent eating pattern

Eating regular meals and 2-3 snacks each day will help keep your weight gain on track and cravings at bay. Eat plenty of fiber (in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds) and protein (from meat, chicken, tofu, nuts, seeds or nut or seed butter) to keep you fuller longer. And don’t forget to stay hydrated!

As your calorie needs increase, add extra vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein-rich foods to your diet.10

For example, to reach the extra 340 calories you’ll need in the second trimester try adding:

  • 6 ounce container of plain low fat yogurt

  • A medium apple with a tablespoon of nut or seed butter

  • 2 scrambled eggs on a piece of whole grain toast with sliced tomato

To reach the extra 450 calories you’ll need in the third trimester, try eating:

  • 1 ounce of almonds or pumpkin seeds

  • 1 cup of skim or soy milk, sliced raw vegetables with ¼ cup hummus, and a small piece of fruit

  • Turkey sandwich with 2 ounces of turkey from a roasted turkey breast (it’s advisable to avoid deli turkey slices given the severity of listeria in pregnant women), 1 ounce of cheese or ¼ avocado and two slices of whole grain bread

Learn More:

Which Nutrients do I Need during Pregnancy

Meal Plan: Key Nutrients of Pregnancy

Incorporate exercise to keep your weight gain in check

Most pregnant women should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.8

If that’s more than you’ve been doing, start slowly and work your way up. Not only will exercise help control your weight gain, but it will also help you stay fit and feel less discomfort. Consider swimming, walking, yoga, or aerobics classes designed for pregnant women.

Talk with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.

Learn More: Exercise During Pregnancy

Don’t weigh yourself often

It’s perfectly fine to wait for your monthly doctors’ appointments to assess your weight gain unless you are concerned that you’re gaining too much or too little.

If you choose to track your weight gain more closely (or if your doctor recommends you do so), weigh yourself at home no more than once a week, ideally at the same time of day and in the same state of dress or undress, and make note of your weight change. Remember that every woman is different, and your weight gain pattern may vary slightly from what’s considered typical.

Make adjustments as needed

If you’re not gaining enough weight you may need to eat a little more or decrease your activity level slightly. If you are gaining too much weight you may need to eat a little less or increase your activity level. Stay in tune with your body to find the right balance for you.

Speak to your healthcare provider with any concerns

If you have any concerns about your weight gain you should speak to your healthcare provider. Additionally, reach out to the Happy Experts who can provide guidance on how to achieve healthy weight gain throughout your pregnancy.

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For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Food Safety During Pregnancy

Nutritious Snacks Ideas During Pregnancy

Nutrition Needs Before, During and After Pregnancy

Why Does Your Pre-Pregnancy Weight Matter?