Recommended Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Table 1. Institute of Medicine Weight Gain Recommendations for Pregnancy
Prepregnancy Weight
Body Mass Index* Recommended
Range of
Total Weight (lb)
Recommended Rates
of Weight Gain† in the
Second and Third
Trimesters (lb)
(Mean Range [lb/wk])
Underweight Less than 18.5 28–40 1 (1–1.3)
Normal Weight 18.5–24.9 25–35 1 (0.8–1)
Overweight 25–29.9 15–25 0.6 (0.5–0.7)
Obese (includes all classes) 30 and greater 11–20 0.5 (0.4–0.6)
*Body mass index is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared or as weight in pounds multiplied by 703 divided by height in inches.
†Calculations assume a 1.1–4.4 lb weight gain in the first trimester.
Modified from Institute of Medicine (US). Weight gain during pregnancy: reexamining the guidelines. Washington, DC. National Academies Press; 2009. ©2009 National Academy of Sciences.

Source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Committee Opinion: Weight Gain During Pregnancy.” Number 548. January 2013.

Normal Weight: It is clear that there is a range of recommended pregnancy weight gain based on your pre-pregnancy weight. Pregnant women always hear the general statement that 25-35 pounds of weight gain is the recommended amount, but based on the above chart, that is only the case for women who were “normal weight” prior to pregnancy.

Underweight: Underweight women are recommended to gain more, even up to 40 pounds. This may be harder for you than your “normal” and “overweight” counterparts because likely you do not overeat nor do you gain weight easily. Also, it may be hard for you to gain enough weight because you may be concerned about losing the weight after Baby is born. You need to be more inintentional about how to increase calories in order to gain sufficient weight during these 40 weeks. Try not to worry too much about “getting fat” because pregnancy is the one time in your life it is actually good to gain weight!

Overweight: The recommended range for you to gain is lower than the “normal” and “underweight” categories, so work with your OB to form a strategy for proper weight gain. Otherwise, you may gain too much and risk having difficulty losing that weight postpartum. This may be difficult if you generally enjoy overeating and are indulging yourself even more now that you are pregnant. Or if you generally diet to lose weight, do not be afraid to gain the recommended 15-25 pounds now that you are pregnant.

Obese: Unfortunately, you have the lowest recommended amount to gain compared to the other groups of women. The only way to successfully gain under 20 pounds is to have a plan. Be sure that your plan includes accountability in order to ensure you are following through on your OB’s guidelines. Gaining excessive pregnancy weight would only contribute further to your obesity and make your long term weight goals harder to achieve. Be sure to get specific advice from your doctor about how to keep your weight gain in the recommended range of 11-20 pounds.

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I am a Physical Therapist and Ergonomics Consultant, based out of Columbia, SC. My passion is to write about and speak about pain/injury prevention. I started Pain Talks as a consulting business in 2018.

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