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Weight Gain Guidelines by the ACOG for Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

What is an Optimal Weight Gain for Pregnancy?

Learn the recommended weight gain during pregnancy, from the ACOG guidelines.

Your pre-pregnancy weight, pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), how fast you gain weight in pregnancy and your total pregnancy weight gain all determine the health of your pregnancy and baby. Although the importance of appropriate weight gain is well known, most women gain too little or too much weight during pregnancy.

The current guidelines for Gestational Weight Gain (GWG) is calculated from your pre-pregnant body mass index (BMI). Your body mass index is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. Don’t worry, just use all the tables found on-line. All you need is your current weight, your height and BMI table to find out your body mass index.

BMI (body mass index) Table

What is Your Body Mass Index ( BMI )

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists provides the following guidelines for gestational weight gain using your pre-pregnancy BMI:

    Underweight:
  • Less than 18.5 BMI
  • You should gain 28 to 40 total pounds

  • Normal weight:
  • BMI between 18.5 to 24.9
  • You should gain 25 to 35 total pounds

  • Overweight weight:
  • BMI between 25 to 29.9
  • You should gain 15 to 25 total pounds

  • Obese:
  • BMI greater than 30
  • You should gain 11 to 20 total pounds

Pregnancy Health Section

Pregnancy Weight Distribution:
Where does all this weight go?

  • Baby - At birth your baby may weigh between 6-7.5 pounds.

  • Uterus - The uterus expands during pregnancy and may weigh 2 pounds.

  • Placenta - The placenta, vital for nourishing your baby, generally weighs 1.5 pounds.

  • Breasts - Breast tissue often grows during pregnancy, and may weigh up to 1.5 to 2 pounds.

  • Blood Volume - Your blood volume will increase during pregnancy up to 4 pounds.

  • Fluid - Your body will retain some fluid during pregnancy, as much as 4 pounds!

  • Amniotic Fluid - The fluid surrounding your baby will weigh approximately 2 pounds.

  • Maternal Fat Stores and Nutrients - You will also gain about 7 pounds of weight that can be attributed to maternal fat and nutrient stores as well as muscle development.

Rate of Gestational Weight Gain

Your rate of gaining weight in pregnancy is also very important, as is the total amount of weight gained for a healthy pregnancy. You will gain most of your pregnancy weight in the second and third trimesters.

According to the new recommended Gestational Weight Gain Guideline values your rate of weight gain should be as follows:

  • Normal Weight - you should gain (0.4 kg per week) in the second and third trimester.

  • Underweight – you should gain, (0.5 kg per week) in the second and third trimester.

  • Overweight – you should gain, (0.3kg per week) in the second and third trimester.

  • Obese - you should gain, (0.2kg per week) in the second and third trimester.

Consequences of Greater than Normal Pregnancy Weight Gain for Mother and Child

If your weight gain during pregnancy is greater than the recommended ranges, you will have an increased risk for pregnancy complications. These complications include, elevated blood pressure, gestational diabetes, complications during giving birth, retaining weight after delivery (with subsequent obesity) as well as an increased risk for unsuccessful breastfeeding.

There is a strong correlation between gestational weight gain and fetal growth. The more weight you gain, the larger your newborn baby will be. The lower the amount of weight gained, the smaller your baby will be at birth. Both of these scenarios can lead to complications for your newborn baby.

Safety of Intentional Weight Loss during Pregnancy

You should not lose weight during pregnancy, because the safety of intentional weight loss among obese women has not be determined. Instead of losing weight, all pregnant women should use the outlined guidelines for Gestational Weight Gain. By adhering to the guideline goals, you will reduce your pregnancy risks, weight retention after delivery, improve your long term health, normalize your baby’s birth weight and reduce childhood obesity for your newborn child.

You Can Increase the Likelihood of having a Healthy Pregnancy

First, you must conceive at a weight that is within the normal BMI recommended guidelines. Secondly and most importantly, you have to limit your weight gain during pregnancy to the range specified by the guidelines for your pre-pregnancy BMI. Meeting this first challenge requires preconception counseling and, for many women, some weight loss when planning the timing of your pregnancy. The second challenge requires you to educate yourself about the new Gestational Weight Gain Guidelines for pregnancy.

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