Healthy Pregnancy Bodyweight

POV Scale

Baby is coming, and the undeniable reality for Mother is the associated weight gain. Baby weight gain is no unexpected news, but questions like “how much weight?” and “how can I best manage that weight?” are normal for new mommies. The good news is that women have been delivering babies for thousands of years, long before the internet, so any effort put into your education on the subject, only ensures that you and your baby are that much more comfortable and confident leading up to that special day. Although the debate about specific weight gain expectations amongst doctors is ongoing, there are actually parameters you will want to stay within to protect both of you, choices you can start making right now about food which will help you and your baby stay healthy, and tools you can use daily to stay on top of things.

Let’s get the actual numbers out of the way so we can cover the things you will want to consider throughout your pregnancy. The current gold standard for determining these ranges is the scale of Body Mass Index (BMI) which is basically a ratio of your height to weight. The larger your BMI, generally, the more weight you are carrying on your frame. A common misperception is that all pregnant women will gain the same amount of weight during a pregnancy, and while no science can predict every pregnancy, in general, women who have a higher BMI should gain less weight during a pregnancy, and conversely for women of a lower BMI. Here is a simplified breakdown.

General weight gains for one baby:

  • Obese (BMI is 30 or greater) 11 to 20 pounds
  • Overweight (BMI 25-29.9) 15 to 25 pounds
  • Healthy (BMI is 18.5-24.9) 25 to 35 pounds
  • Underweight (BMI is less than 18.5) 28 to 40 pounds

For twins:

  • Obese (BMI is 30 or greater) 25 to 42 pounds

  • Overweight (BMI 25-29.9) 31 to 50 pounds
  • Healthy (BMI is 18.5-24.9) 37 to 54 pounds
  • Underweight (BMI is less than 18.5) Ask your doctor
BW PregnantStaying active as long as your doctor will permit will help you with maintaining many aspects of your health beyond managing weight, but food choices will be more influential with overall weight management. Special care should be taken in navigating a healthy emotional and practical approach to food intake.

For starters dietary management when pregnant should never be about trying to lose weight. Conversely, while weight gain is to be expected, the old adage about eating for two is also not true. In reality, your body will provide much of what baby needs for most of your pregnancy, to the extent that you may not even gain weight during your first trimester other than fluid retention. Your food choices should not divert much from the normal guidelines for eating healthfully, so if making healthy choices is not normal for you, or something you don’t know about, this would be a good time to learn more about healthier choices.


Healthier choices, in general, would start with a significant intake of fruits and vegetables, the emphasis on the vegetable side. Fruit makes a nice natural and healthy sugar source when the body is craving something sweet, which may just be the body craving fiber, an often misunderstand message from the body to the brain. Picking fruit over refined sweets will not only better supply nutrients to mom and baby, the sugars will digest more slowly, and more importantly will feed both fiber, something mom needs to stay regular. Similarly, salads can be a panacea; a fun and tasty way to get creative, build enjoyable meals, and curb cravings.


Protein choices, which can be added to those salads, should remain lean, sticking to poultry and fish, but could include eggs. Dairy is also a protein source but keep it on the low end for fat content. Foods that are high in fat, especially saturated fats [think: cooked oils like margarine] will put a strain on both baby and mother’s hearts, and should be avoided. Healthier fat choices like avocado and oils from fish are healthier, but in spoonfuls, not cupfuls, and be savvy with your fish choices, avoiding fish high in mercury. Also avoid salty foods, or salting food when cooking or eating at home, salt can cause your body to retain water and can also increase your blood pressure.

As a general rule, avoid eating out in restaurants, fast food or sit-down, where there are no healthy menu options. Honest chefs will tell you, the easy way to make food appealing is to supersize them with fats, salts and sugars. That being said, a nice raw salad, ordered with light or no dressing, can be served most places and will fit the bill on maintaining your social life. Never hesitate to let the server know you are pregnant and trying to avoid certain things.

If you know your target weight, are making the right food choices, and want to better track your progress, you may be tempted to step on a scale. Go ahead and do it. Do it every day, but keep in mind we are looking at long term trends over time. Don’t be thrown by huge overnight fluctuations caused often water weight, and could be more a reflection of pregnancy nausea, or salt intake.


To make sure you are working with a good scale, get your scale from a medical supply house, where medical equipment quality control goes into engineering and manufacturing this vital tool. Poorly manufactured scales can give you incorrect data, and give you a false sense of security or anxiety, during a critical time for data accuracy in your life.

Congratulations on your pregnancy. May you always be steadfast in the protection of you and your baby’s health.

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1 Comment

  1. Dr. Maureen Muoneke MD

    November 16, 2013 at 10:06 am

    All the nutrition and care during pregnancy also the food which you eat is extremely important from mother as well as child point of view. Because the food you intake is going to give your developing baby the needed nutrition to make him/her healthy and a strong child.

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