How Much Weight Should You Gain During Pregnancy?

Dr. Mom blog explores pregnancy cravings, pregnancy weight gain, and early pregnancy symptoms.

During my pregnancy, my mom told me to enjoy myself and indulge in my all of my cravings. One of my early pregnancy symptoms was cravings for junk food.  For the first month after I found out I was pregnant, I over-indulged and ate food that I don’t typically eat like fried food, ice cream, and lots of bubble tea. Within 1 month I gained over 15 pounds, and 55 pounds by the end of my pregnancy.  My mom gained 80 pounds during her pregnancy with me.

It was only during my 12-week check-up when I realized that I gained 15lbs and that:

  1. I was outside of recommended guidelines for weight gain.
  2. I was putting myself at risk for gestational diabetes.
  3. I needed to get the weight gain under control.

During pregnancy, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada states:

Weight gain during pregnancy supports the growth of your baby and the placenta, as well as changes in your body (such as an increased volume of blood and fluid, larger breast size, and some storage of fat). Evidence shows that women who gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy have fewer complications, such as caesarean section, gestational hypertension, and low or high birth weight.”

Having a body mass index (BMI) above 30 prior to pregnancy can increase your risk of serious health problems during and after pregnancy.  Most concerning are:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Early labour and delivery
  • Miscarriage
  • Increased risk of blood loss during pregnancy or delivery
  • Having baby that is very large. 
  • Furthermore: birth defects, caesarean section rates, and delivery complications all increase with mothers whom have a high BMI prior to pregnancy. 

Everybody experiences pregnancy different.  One of my early pregnancy symptoms was cravings for lots and lots of (“junk”) food.  Because of the concern for weight gain in pregnancy, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has made recommendations for weight gain in pregnancy based on what your BMI is before you were pregnant.

To calculate your own BMI, you can use this formula:

BMI = weight(kg) / height(m)^2

BMI before
weight gain
Less than18.512.5 to 18 kg (28 to 40 lbs)
Between 18.5 and 24.911.5 to 16 kg (25 to 35 lbs)
Between 25 and 29.97 to 11.5 kg (15 to 25 lbs)
More than 30At least 7 kg (15 lbs)
Twin pregnancies16 to 20.5 kg (35 to 45 lbs)

After my first trimester, I realized I was gaining too much weight.  I implemented some changes in my diet to help protect the health of my baby and myself. 

  1. My pregnancy cravings were still out of control, and I still wanted to enjoy myself.  I decided to indulge in sweets only in moderation. Once or twice week I would let myself have the treats that I craved.
  2. I would have more healthy snacks around the house such as cut up fruit, vegetables, and boiled eggs.  Having these pre-prepared made it easy to grab a health quick snack if I was hungry.  This prevented the sugar binges that I craved in my early pregnancy.
  3. My husband and I love trying new restaurants.  Once I found out I was pregnant we were eating out a lot more than usual. After my first trimester weight gain, we went back to our normal 1 dinner out per week. This was better for our health (and finances)!

I continued to stay active during my pregnancy.   I did have to modify my workouts, especially as the pregnancy progressed.

This post was co-authored by Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc and Suzanne Black, MD, BSc


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