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The facts about normal pregnancy weight gain

Gaining weight is a natural part of pregnancy and an important aspect of your growing baby's health. Though you're "eating for two" during pregnancy, it's important to avoid the temptation to eat twice as much. Rather than focusing on quantity, try to enhance the quality of your food choices.

Pregnancy and weight gain: Pregnancy calories still count

Eating the best foods and consuming the correct number of calories benefits your baby's health — and yours — at every stage of pregnancy.

  • In the 1st trimester, doctors suggest continuing your daily intake of pre-pregnancy calories, which is 2,000 to 2,200* calories for most women during childbearing years.*
    While your baby’s calorie needs are small during the 1st trimester, his needs for nutrients are high. This is the time to start making every bite count.
  • In the 2nd trimester, doctors recommend adding about 340* calories a day. That’s the equivalent of 1 cup of fat-free skim milk and one slice of whole-grain bread with 1-1/2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of grape jam.
  • During the 3rd trimester, doctors recommend an additional 450* calories a day. That’s the equivalent of 1 cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup of mixed fruit, and 1/3 cup of low-fat granola.

*Based on the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI)

Why weight matters during your pregnancy

How much weight you gain during pregnancy impacts your baby’s health and your well-being during and after pregnancy.

Gaining too little weight during pregnancy increases a baby’s risk of:

  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Difficulty initiating breastfeeding

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy increases the risk of:

  • Macrosomia (birth weight of more than 4,500 g (9 lb, 14.7 oz**)
  • Increased baby size, which might require cesarean-section delivery
  • Difficulty losing weight after pregnancy
  • Gestational diabetes or hypertension

  **Based on ACOG's definition of macrosomia

The right amount of pregnancy weight gain varies for each woman and is based on how much she weighs before becoming pregnant. Ask your doctor to help you determine the right amount of maternity weight gain for you.

How to manage calories during your pregnancy while ensuring proper nutrition:

  • Try eating smaller, more frequent meals to avoid intense hunger.
  • Watch portion sizes, eat slowly, and give your body time to digest food.
  • Fill up on fruits and vegetables, which provide nutrients, water, and fiber with fewer calories.
  • Focus on better-quality foods, and make adjustments in consumption based on activity levels.

With a healthy approach, you can ensure you’re responsibly eating for two while achieving the pregnancy weight that’s best for you.

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