The following guidelines were developed to help you get the best possible nutrition for you and your baby. These guidelines are only recommendations and may need to be adjusted if you are under or overweight, unable to eat, have special dietary needs or food allergies; or if you are carrying more than one baby. If you are concerned about weight gain or need help using a food guide, talk to your health care provider about a referral to a prenatal nutritionist.
The USDA food guide for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women (My Pyramid Plan) which you can use to get your own individualized nutrition plan is located at www.choosemyplate.gov/. Go to the site and click on "Pregnancy and Breastfeeding".
- Folic acid and other vitamins
- Micronutrients, including iron
- 6-11 breads and cereals
- 3-5 vegetables
- 2-4 fruits
- 2-3 protein/protein alternates (6-9 oz per day)
- 2-3 dairy
- Drink 8 or more large glasses of water
Recommended weight gain during pregnancy
Weight gain usually occurs at a smooth, gradual rate during pregnancy. For the first three months, expect to gain a total of 2 to 5 pounds. During the remaining six months, the normal rate of weight gain is about 2 to 6 pounds per month or one pound per week. The average expected weight gain is 25 to 35 pounds if you begin a pregnancy at a desirable weight and are carrying only one baby. A variety of weight gain levels can result in healthy babies. What is important is to gain enough weight to keep you and your baby healthy. The amount of weight gain needed depends on your height and weight before becoming pregnant.
Range of weight gain*
- If you start pregnancy underweight, the recommended total weight gain is 28 to 40 pounds.
- If you start pregnancy at desirable weight, the recommended total weight gain is 25 to 35 pounds.
- If you start pregnancy overweight, the recommended total weight gain is 15 to 25 pounds.
- If you start pregnancy very overweight, the recommended total weight gain is 15 pounds.
- If you are pregnant with twins, the recommended total weight gain is 35 to 45 pounds.
A note on the psychological aspects of pregnancy weight changes
The topic of weight and weight gain can be a source of concern and anxiety for some women. However, pregnancy is the ideal time to embrace your body as it gradually changes in shape and size. Remember, pregnancy is a temporary state. With good nutrition and exercise, there is every reason to expect that you will return to your pre-pregnancy weight after your baby is born and your body has recovered from the birth.
Frequently asked questions about nutrition and weight gain in pregnancy