Optimum weight gain during pregnancy

weight gain during pregnancy.pngBeing pregnant does not give women a license to gain oodles of weight as is the case with most affluent Indian women. At the same time, the pregorexic (overly restricting energy intake and overexercising) mothers need to be cautioned regarding inadequate weight gain to prevent compromised nutrition to the baby throughout pregnancy as well as during the crucial period of lactation. One should know where to draw the line and be well educated about optimum weight gain on individual basis.

The most recent report of the Center for Disease Control revealed the startling trends regarding weight gain during pregnancy. They observed that only about one-third (32%) of women gained the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy and 48% women gained more than recommended weight while 21% gained too little.

Recommendation from FAO/WHO/UNU 2004 Consultation:

Gestational weight gain -10 to 14 kg, with an average of 12 kg

  • 1st Trimester- weight gain of 1 kg (may even lose weight)
  • 2nd Trimester- 3-4 kg
  • 3rd Trimester – 5-6 kg

In terms of BMI (Body mass Index),

If your pre-pregnancy BMI was.. You should gain…
Less than 18.5 kg/m²

18.5 to 24.9 kg/m²

25 to 29.9 kg/m²

Above 30 kg/m²


12½ to 18kg

11½ to 16kg

7 to 11½ kg

5 to 9kg

Why Is It Important to Gain the Recommended Amount of Weight During Pregnancy?

Less than required amount of weight gain may compromise growth of the fetus leading to a small for age or malnourished baby. Such babies find it hard to breastfeed, cope with the external environment, are more susceptible to infections and disease and may have delayed development. Malnourished babies who have a rapid catch-up growth during infancy are then at risk of developing obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart diseases later in life.

Mothers who gain excess weight during pregnancy may in turn give birth to a large /macrosomic baby. This causes problems at delivery, mandates C-section and sets the stage for obesity and other metabolic disorders right from childhood. Higher fat tissue accumulated by the mother during pregnancy also puts her at risk of lifestyle diseases.

How to achieve only optimum weight gain during pregnancy

  • Know what should be your ideal weight gain and keep track of weight status at every month
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients rather than focusing on increased calorie intake
  • Avoid using packaged and processed foods as they contain added sugars and unhealthy fats along with preservatives and artificial flavours
  • Make sure you involve in adequate level of physical activity and exercise. Pregnancy should not be an excuse to stop moving around and exercising.

 A healthy pregnancy is one which results in a baby with normal birth weight (3 – 3.5kg/ 6.5 -7.5lbs) and born through the vagina of the mother rather than C-section. Weight gain during pregnancy plays an important role in determining these outcomes and hence needs adequate attention!




Author: drpoojachhawcharia

Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.

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