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The important thing you need to know about pregnancy weight gain

Finding out that you are pregnant comes with a tidal wave of emotions and questions, not the least of which involve your body and all the (wonderful/annoying/amazing/scary) ways it will change. If you're wondering about pregnancy weight gain, you are certainly not alone.


As women we are often bombarded with information about what our bodies should look like—it's seriously everywhere. It can be really challenging when we become pregnant. On the one hand, we want to help our babies have the best start to life. We also want our own bodies to be healthy and strong during the awesome-yet-totally-intense work of growing a human.

But we also have to balance that with the societal messages we've absorbed about how we should look, along with how we want to feel in and about our own bodies.

It's not easy.

Let's start with the guidelines. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American College of Nurse-Midwives recommend that women gain anywhere from 11 to 40 pounds during their pregnancies, depending on their pre-pregnancy BMI (Body Mass Index).

If you're not sure of your BMI, you can calculate it here.

According to ACOG if your pre-pregnancy BMI is:

  • 18.5 or less, you should gain 28 to 40 pounds
  • 18.5-24.9 you should gain 25 to 35 pounds
  • 25 to 29.9 you should gain 15 to 25 pounds
  • 30 or greater you should gain 11 to 20 pounds

No, you are not about to give birth to a 40 pound baby! In fact, the baby only accounts for some of the weight you'll gain.

The makeup of pregnancy weight gain:

  • Breasts: 1 to 3 pounds
  • Placenta: 1 to 2 pounds
  • Uterus: 2 pounds
  • Blood 3 to 4 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
  • Body fluid: 2 to 3 pounds
  • Fat: 6 to 8 pounds
  • Baby: 7 1/2 pounds

In a recent study, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that only about one third of women in the United States were gaining weight within those parameters.

Twenty percent of women were gaining less than the recommended amount. Gaining too little weight during pregnancy is significant because it can lead babies to be born with low birth weight, which can cause problems for the baby like diabetes, high blood pressure, and believe it or not, obesity later in life.

Almost half of women are gaining more than the recommended amount of weight. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can put a woman at risk for gestational diabetes and a more difficult pregnancy and birth, and can increase the chance that her baby will be overweight later in life.

This is all pretty overwhelming, and quite frankly, very stressful.

A few things to keep in mind—

Researchers are starting to question the usefulness of BMIs as a marker for health, as people's body sizes and types vary so much. For example, Alexandra Sifferlin writes in Time Magazine that “BMI...doesn't tease apart different types of fat, each of which can have different metabolic effects on health."

Scientists are looking into other methods of assessing weight, but in the meantime, "doctors [should] combine BMI with a comprehensive evaluation of their patients' medical history and lifestyle habits to get a meaningful, if not yet perfectly precise picture of their weight-related health. It is possible that as ur knowledge BMI evolves, so to will the pregnancy recommendations.

Another factor is that many women start eating much healthier when they become pregnant. This sudden change in diet can impact the amount of weight gained.

Lastly, there are so many medical conditions that can influence how much weight a woman gains in pregnancy. For example, if a woman has hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe case of nausea and vomiting, she'll likely lose a fair amount of weight in the beginning of her pregnancy. A woman with a history of an eating disorder may have other unique challenges during her pregnancy.

The important take-home here is that every woman, pregnancy and baby is different. Talk to you midwife or doctor about what your target weight gain should be.

In a world full of pressure to fit the mold and be perfect, remember that you already are perfect for your baby. He loves you just as you are. You've got this.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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