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What You Need to Know About Pregnancy Weight Gain

Gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy can be the key to good health for both mom and the baby. A nutritionist shares how much weight you should gain, and some healthy ways to put on this weight.

By Shreya Maji
23 Mar 2022

Your body goes through a number of new, exciting and intimidating changes during pregnancy, and one of them is the weight you gain, especially during the later months. While there is a lot of anxiety surrounding getting back to your pre-pregnancy body weight, ensuring that you gain enough weight during these nine months is essential. Some of this weight is your growing baby, but a lot of it is in the form of extra fluid, which is needed for the placenta, the amniotic fluid and the circulation of the baby. Your body’s fat reserves created during pregnancy also fuel breast milk production after you give birth. The pregnancy weight gain is closely connected to your baby’s healthy development and your well-being.


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“If you gain too much weight during pregnancy, you could be at risk of developing gestational diabetes or high blood pressure,” says Neha Sahaya, certified nutritionist and wellness consultant based in Mumbai. “Your baby might have a very high birth weight, which could result in fetopelvic disproportion (significant mismatch between the size or shape of the baby and the size or shape of the maternal pelvis) and they might develop cardiovascular problems later in life. If you gain too little weight, you could have an early (premature) birth, your baby might not develop properly, or they could have a very low birth weight. It also puts you at a higher risk of prenatal mortality.”


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A majority of the weight gain during pregnancy happens in the second and third trimesters. “The general benchmark of expectation, if you start out at a normal pre-pregnancy weight, is about 1-2 kgs of weight gain during the first trimester,” says Neha. “Thereafter, you have to gain about 0.5 kgs per week for the second and third trimester.” If you start out with a lower or higher weight range, then the weight you need to put on during pregnancy will vary accordingly. BMI is the most popular way of understanding how much weight you should gain. The most current recommendation based on BMI is:


Pre-Pregnancy BMI Target weight gain for one child Target weight gain for twins
<18.5 12-18 kgs 22-28 kgs
18.5 - 25 11-15 kgs 16-24 kgs
25 - 30 7-10 kgs 14-22 kgs
>30 5-9 kgs 11-19 kgs


But remember, there is no standard recommendation that can apply to every pregnant woman. Consult your gynaecologist or nutritionist to understand what would be the healthiest range for you.


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How to Gain Weight in a Healthy Way


A nutrient-rich diet and staying active are essential to ensure that the weight you gain is steady and healthy for you. Neha gives the following healthy eating advice to get you started:


  • Have 5-6 small meals throughout the day.
  • Ensure that at least half your plate at lunch and dinner is full of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Have wholesome snacks between your meals to keep your energy up and also to receive necessary nutrients, such as raisins, dry fruits, yoghurt, sprouts and eggs.
  • Focus on getting enough protein in all your meals as it is vital for healthy foetal development. Protein should make up at least 30 per cent of your total diet. Even if you are snacking on an apple, try to put a little bit of peanut butter on it so you can get some protein. Have enough legumes and lentils if you are vegetarian.
  • Carbs should make up about 40 to 60 per cent of your diet. Try to eat complex carbs like cereals and bread made from whole grains instead of refined carbs. Make sure to include some healthy fats, such as nuts, avocados, tofu and dark chocolate.
  • Reduce your refined sugar intake, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions like thyroid, PCOS or diabetes.


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