You are using a browser we no longer support. Current functionality may be reduced and some features may not work properly. For a more optimal experience, please click here for a list of supported browsers.

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy

GEHA | August 31, 2018

Read about pregnancy weight gain, 300 calorie snacks, nutrient-rich diet, drinking water, and how weight is distributed.

Gaining weight is normal during pregnancy. You should be aware and speak with your health care provider if you are gaining too little or too much weight. How much weight you should gain depends on your BMI (body mass index) before you become pregnant.

BMI is calculated using your height and weight. You can determine you BMI by using an online BMI calculator.

Follow these guidelines for women pregnant with one baby:

Before pregnancy you were  You should gain 
 underweight (BMI less than 18.5)  28-40 pounds
 normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9)  25-35 pounds
 overweight (BMI 25-29.9)   15-25 pounds
 obese (BMI 30 and above)  11-20 pounds

The old adage that pregnant women are “eating for two” isn’t true. If you are at normal weight before pregnancy and are carrying only one child, you only need to eat about 300 extra calories each day to provide your baby with necessary nutrients.

Examples of snacks that are close to 300 calories include:

  • A medium banana with two tablespoons of peanut butter
  • ½ cup of dried fruits and nuts
  • ½ an avocado on a slice of whole-grain toast
  • Two hard-boiled eggs with a serving of whole-grain crackers

Eating a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients can help prevent:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Anemia and infections in the mother
  • Early birth
  • Low birth-weight
  • The chance of needing cesarean delivery
  • Excessive maternal weight gain

How is your pregnancy weight gain distributed?

According to the Office on Women’s Health, this is where your added pregnancy weight goes:

  • Baby: 6 to 8 pounds
  • Placenta: 1½ pounds
  • Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
  • Uterus growth: 2 pounds
  • Breast growth: 2 pounds
  • Your blood and body fluids: 8 pounds
  • Your body's protein and fat: 7 pounds

Be sure to drink enough fluids

Drinking enough water is always essential for good health, and pregnant women need even more water than usual to support their growing babies and stay hydrated. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups of fluids daily. Make sure to drink water constantly throughout the day, don’t wait until you feel thirsty. The feeling of thirst is a sign of dehydration.

If you are a GEHA medical plan member who is pregnant or is considering becoming pregnant, visit GEHA's "Pregnancy and childbirth" webpage for additional information and to order a free maternity resource kit.

Sources: “Weight Gain During Pregnancy.”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 May 2018.
McConville, Kylie. “20 Healthy (and Tasty!) Pregnancy Snacks.”, The Bump, Dec. 2017. “Eating Right During Pregnancy.”, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 4 Oct. 2016. “Staying Healthy and Safe.”, Office on Women’s Health,U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 6 June, 2018.