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I’m Gaining Too Little Weight During My Pregnancy. What Can I Do?

How Much Total Weight Should I Gain?

The right amount of weight to gain during pregnancy depends on how much you weighed before getting pregnant. Talk with your health care provider to find out what amount is right for you. General guidelines for weight gain are:

Pre-Pregnancy Weight BMI
(kg/sq m)
Recommended Weight Gain
Underweight <18.5 28 - 40 pounds
Normal weight 18.5 - 24.9 25 - 35 pounds
Overweight 25.0 - 29.9 15 - 25 pounds
Obese 30.0+ 11 - 20 pounds

Women pregnant with multiples: Normal weight women should gain 37-54 pounds, overweight, 31-50 pounds and obese, 25-42 pounds during pregnancy.

      1st trimester: 1.1-4.4 pounds
      2nd trimester: 0.4-1.3 pounds a week
      3rd trimester: 0.4-1.3 pounds a week

Where Does All That Weight Go?

Baby 7 - 8 pounds
Larger breasts 1 - 3 pounds
Larger uterus 2 pounds
Placenta 1 - 2 pounds
Amniotic Fluid 2 pounds
Increased blood volume 3 - 4 pounds
Increased fluid volume 3 - 4 pounds
Fat stores 6 - 8 pounds

Risks of Gaining Too Little Weight

Women who don’t gain enough weight during pregnancy are more likely to have:

  • Babies born early
  • Babies born small
  • Babies with delayed development
  • Babies with heart or lung problems

How Can I Control My Nausea?

Nausea can affect weight gain by making you feel less hungry. There are some things you can do to help control your nausea. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid smells that worsen your nausea
  • Eat small, frequent meals (5- 6 per day)
  • Choose bland foods and foods high in carbohydrates and low in fat
  • Keep some crackers or dry cereal by your bed to eat before you get up
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Exercise often
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • If prenatal vitamins make your nausea worse
    • take them with meals
    • switch brands
    • take them at night
    • cut them in half
  • Always check with your health care provider before taking any medications or supplements to help with nausea

What Can I Do to Increase Weight Gain?

If you’ve gained less weight than recommended, you’ll want to make some changes to your diet. Gaining too little weight has risks for your pregnancy and your baby. Along with a healthy diet, taking a prenatal vitamin will help you get the right amount of nutrients.

Tips to Increase Calories:

  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Drink high-calorie nutrient-dense liquids (mild, 100% juices, protein shakes) when you’re not hungry for a meal
  • Eat more when you feel hungry
  • Add healthy fats to your food (canola or olive oil, tub margarine, nuts)
  • Top meats with sauces or gravies
  • Focus on high calorie, nutrient-dense foods
    • Mix powdered mild into foods
    • Use cheese liberally
    • Spread peanut butter on toast, apple and banana slices, celery
    • Drink whole milk
    • Top cereal with dried fruit and nuts

Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy:

Weight loss is not your goal, but exercise will benefit you in other ways:

  • Controls nausea
  • Helps with constipation, backaches
  • Improves sleep
  • Gives you more energy
  • Improves your mood

Consult your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Activities that affect balance or may cause injury to the abdomen are not safe during pregnancy.

Courtesy of the Utah WIC Program


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