How Much Weight Is Safe To Gain During Pregnancy, According To A Obstetrician

Weight gain is a completely normal and healthy part of pregnancy. Health Digest spoke with Dr. Javier Saldaña, a gynecologist and obstetrician at VIDA Wellness and Beauty with over 12 years of experience, who explained to us what patients can expect in terms of weight gain while pregnant.

"Usually, women gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, with most of the weight gain occurring during the second and third trimester," he states. "Women who are within a healthy BMI range should aim for the higher end of this range, while those who are overweight or obese may need to focus on gaining less than 25 pounds."

Because every person's situation will be different, Dr. Saldaña encourages patients to speak with their physician in order to develop a healthcare plan specific to them. "It's important to discuss your individual needs with a healthcare provider to determine the best weight gain goal for you," he says. Overall, however, Dr. Saldaña notes, "Eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity are key components of a healthy pregnancy."

When weight loss may be advised for a patient

"It's important to discuss any concerns about weight gain during pregnancy with a healthcare provider," Dr. Saldaña states. "Generally, women should not try to lose any weight during pregnancy, as this can be detrimental to both the mother and the baby."

However, Dr. Saldaña explains that there are unique cases in which weight loss may be advised for a patient. "[I]f a woman is significantly overweight or obese before becoming pregnant, then it might be beneficial for her to lose some weight while pregnant to reduce the potential health risks and complications during birth," he says.

It's important, however, that a patient does not attempt to do so solely on their own. "This should only be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider and with an individualized plan tailored to the woman's needs and health history," Dr. Saldaña states. "The lifestyle changes shouldn't be overly restrictive or too drastic, as this can compromise the health of both mother and baby."

Managing cravings during pregnancy

Dr. Saldaña goes on to tell Health Digest that even with cravings, there are ways in which patients can continue to maintain a safe weight during pregnancy. "It's normal to experience cravings during pregnancy, but it's important to try and focus on healthy foods that provide optimal nutrition for the baby, instead of unhealthy snacks or processed foods," he states. "It can help to keep healthy snacks on hand, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole-grain crackers and other whole grains, yogurt, hummus and pita chips, boiled eggs, [and] smoothies or shakes made with milk or fruit juice."

Dr. Saldaña states that changing up one's portions and meal times can also be helpful. "Eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large ones can also help manage cravings and keep your weight gain in check," he says. "It could also keep your blood sugar stable, which can reduce the severity of morning sickness and other pregnancy symptoms."

"Finally, it's important to stay hydrated and get regular physical activity — even if it's just a brisk walk around the neighborhood," Dr. Saldaña adds. "All of these things can help you manage your cravings and keep your weight gain at a healthy level during pregnancy."

Safe and healthy activities to do while pregnant

"Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy face a higher risk of serious medical complications like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia, as well as an increased chance of cesarean delivery," Dr. Saldaña explains. "Additionally, women who are overweight or obese before becoming pregnant have an increased risk of preterm birth, and birth defects," he adds, citing data from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

However, Dr. Saldaña explains that there are safe and healthy ways in which one can stay active during pregnancy. "Although it's generally not recommended to try and lose weight during pregnancy, there are some activities that can help a woman maintain her current weight," he states. "Regular physical activity is important for pregnant women, and walking is usually the best option, as it's low-impact and can be done almost anywhere." He goes on to add that swimming, yoga, Pilates, stationary cycling, or lightweight training may also be suitable options. "However, any exercise should only be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider, and intensity should be kept low to avoid over-exerting the body," Dr. Saldaña emphasizes.

"It's also important to focus on eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and limiting processed foods," Dr. Saldaña states in closing. "Pairing healthy eating with physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy and beyond."