Pregnancy Weight Gain: Why You Gain More Than What Baby Weighs
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Pregnancy Weight Gain: Why You Gain More Than What Baby Weighs

Worried about pregnancy weight gain? Here's why you might gain more weight than what your baby weighs (and why that's perfectly OK).

Updated July 11, 2024

Weight gain is always a sensitive subject, whether you are pregnant or not. However, mommas-to-be can become self-conscious about their pregnancy weight gain, especially since it can occur quickly the further you get along. The good news is healthy baby weight tends to come off shortly after your baby is born. Plus, you will soon find out why you can gain far more weight than what your baby weighs. Let’s dive into what weight gain during pregnancy looks like and talk about why your body works hard to gain weight to support your little one on the way.

What Does Pregnancy Weight Gain Look Like?

If you are pregnant, you have probably heard that the gold standard for pregnancy weight gain is about 30 pounds. However, this isn’t the case for all women. Some may gain less, and some may gain more. Both are okay so long as you’re gaining healthy weight your body needs to support a healthy pregnancy.1

Here are the current pregnancy weight gain guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):2

  • For someone who was underweight before becoming pregnant: 28-40 pounds
  • If you were at an average weight before becoming pregnant: 25-35 pounds
  • For someone who was overweight before becoming pregnant: 15-25 pounds
  • If you were obese before becoming pregnant: 11-20 pounds

As you can see, weight gain recommendations for pregnant moms differ depending on where you start. The CDC reports nearly 48% of pregnant women gain more than the recommended amount of weight, so if you find yourself creeping up on that 30-pound weight gain mark, you are not alone!2 Pregnancy weight gain is individual, and it’s important to remember we all carry our babies differently, so each pregnancy will be different.

The best thing you can do is ensure the weight you are gaining is healthy. Stick to a clean and well-balanced diet, move your body daily, and avoid fried, processed, and overly sugary foods. Eating well and exercising help support a healthy pregnancy, and they are also great for your overall health and mood, so it’s a win-win!1,2,3

Why You Gain More Weight During Pregnancy Than What Baby Weighs

When discussing pregnancy weight gain, many mommas wonder why they gain an average of 25-35 pounds when their baby only weighs around 7 pounds.4 There are so many fascinating things about pregnancy, and understanding where this weight gain comes from helps put it all into perspective.

Several factors can affect how much weight you gain during pregnancy. This list shows precisely where some of that weight is distributed to:1

  • Baby: The average-sized baby is about 7 ½ pounds.
  • Placenta: 1 ½ pounds
  • Uterus: 2 pounds
  • Increased fluid volume: 4 pounds
  • Increased blood volume: 4 pounds
  • Breast tissue: 2 pounds
  • Nutrient stores (fat, protein, and other nutrients): 7 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds

As you can see, many changes occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy, which can add up to 30 pounds!1 This doesn’t even consider other factors, like if you pack on extra nutrient stores or if your baby weighs more than 7 ½ pounds. Your body stores more weight during pregnancy for many reasons, so it’s normal to gain more than the amount your baby alone weighs.1

If you are pregnant and feeling down about how much weight you have put on, remember why your body is gaining weight. Try to change your perspective and realize that so long as you are eating healthy and moving your body as much as is comfortable, you are doing what you need to do to support a healthy pregnancy. The weight will come off, so don’t beat yourself up! For now, try to enjoy your pregnancy and take care of yourself. Remember, the result will outshine everything else when you look back at your pregnancy.

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Rebecca Jacobs is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She found her way into Holistic Nutrition after battling many health issues herself and decided it was time to take matters into her… Read more

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