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Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines Explained

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When Should I Start Gaining Weight During Pregnancy?

When it comes to pregnancy pounds, timing matters.

Chances are, weight gain during the first three months will be minimal -- and should be, according to the IOM guidelines. 

You don't need any extra calories during the first trimester; although the baby's growth is rapid, he is so small that his development doesn't warrant additional energy. However, you may add some pounds to your frame during the first three months because you're hungrier or because of fluid retention. Some women even lose weight because they don't feel well enough to eat their usual diet.

Once the second trimester starts, and the baby's growth begins in earnest, gaining weight on a steady basis is a must. Plan on putting on about a pound each week with a prepregnancy BMI of 24.9 and below, and about a half pound a week if you had a prepregnancy BMI of 24.9 and above. 

What Happens If I Gain Too Much or Too Little During Pregnancy?

In the short term, gaining the suggested amount of weight reduces the risk of preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks of gestation) and promotes a baby that isn't too big or too small at delivery. 

In the long run, research suggests that the greater the weight gain during pregnancy, the higher the risk of having an overweight child and one with higher blood pressure. Children who are born too small, which can result from inadequate weight gain during pregnancy, are more prone to certain chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, during adulthood.

What if you miss the mark for recommended weight gain? If you're off by just a few pounds either way, it probably won't make much of a difference. The IOM guidelines provide a range in each BMI category, suggesting that good outcomes are achieved with all different weight gains. Listen to the advice of your doctor or nurse-midwife about weight gain, but if you have doubts, ask what's right for you.

How Much Extra Food Should I Eat While Pregnant?

Pregnancy hormones can play havoc with appetite, causing some women to feel famished.  Others are daunted by nausea, vomiting, and fatigue that diminish their desire for food. In both cases, the best strategy is trying as much as possible to adhere to a balanced diet that accounts for physical activity and stage of pregnancy, like the ones offered at MyPyramid.gov.

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