Weight Gain in Pregnancy

What is normal weight gain in pregnancy?

There is a huge range of normal when it comes to gaining weight in pregnancy. Some women will only gain 20 pounds and some may gain 70, all while maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Average weight gain is 25 to 35 pounds.

Many factors influence weight gain: maternal metabolic rate, diet, lifestyle, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, smoking, degree of swelling, amount of amniotic fluid, and the size of the baby. Maternal age, prepregnancy size, parity and ethnicity also influence maternal weight gain.

Pregnancy weight gain patterns, as well as newborn size, often run in families. If you know that your mother and sisters were on the high or low end of normal weight gain, this may be true for you as well.

What can weight measurements indicate?

The weighing of pregnant women has become routine in many areas. One of the reasons for this is that as a society we are preoccupied with size and weight, especially in women. Yet research fails to show that it is an effective way of monitoring the health of mom and baby.

Weight measurement is only one of many tools that caregivers have. It cannot diagnose a healthy diet. Quality nutrition is one of the most important routes to a healthy pregnancy and birth. More effective tools include regular abdominal palpation of the growing uterus and baby, measurement of the uterine height, and urine dipsticks to diagnose sugar in the urine.

Weight measurement can be useful, once there is suspicion of a developing problem, for further monitoring of such pregnancy issues as intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), gestational diabetes or hypertension. Of course, these problems are rare, and weight gain by itself indicates very little.

What are the disadvantages of weighing?

  • Overall weight gain may play into negative feelings about body image
  • Since most women do not gain at a steady rate, this can lead to worry about “too much” or “too little” within a certain time period, only to even out at later
  • Reaching a specific number such as 150 or 200 pounds, or the same weight as your partner, may trigger negative body image issues
  • Prenatal visit time could be better spent on other care

Should I weigh myself regularly?

Regular weighing can be weekly, monthly or every trimester. You should consider regular weight measurements…

  • If you feel it would add to your pregnancy experience – many women are curious and encouraged to see the change in their bodies
  • If you smoke
  • If you have frequent vomiting or diarrhea
  • If your careprovider thinks you have signs of developing gestational diabetes, hypertension or IUGR
  • If you have a prepregnancy BMI that is lower or higher than “normal”
  • If you have had a previous baby with intrauterine growth retardation
  • If you have had a previous baby whose birthweight was less than 2500kg (5-1/2 pounds)

At Madawaska Valley Midwives, unless other clinical issues arise, we only request that you record your prepregnancy weight (or an early pregnancy weight), as well as your weight in late third trimester, as prepregnancy BMI and/or total pregnancy weight gain can occasionally be relevant to certain medical procedures in labour.

Credit: Thanks to Pomegranate Midwives in BC for this sound advice on weight gain in pregnancy. This document is originally from their website and we are pleased to share it with our clients.