Gaining Too Little Weight During Pregnancy

It is important to gain weight during pregnancy. Not only are you housing a developing baby, but also a brand new organ (the placenta), 50% more blood than usual, some amniotic fluid, and a few extra pounds to keep your baby sustained during breastfeeding. You may worry you are gaining too little weight during pregnancy, and be looking for ways to pile on the pounds.

How much weight should I put on during pregnancy?

This depends on your pre-pregnancy weight, and is calculated using your BMI. If you don’t know your pre-pregnancy BMI, your healthcare provider will calculate one for you at your first appointment. If your BMI is:

  • 18.4 or less – you are considered to be underweight, and should aim to put on between 28 and 40 lbs by the end of the pregnancy
  • 18.5 – 24.9 – you’re in the healthy range and should aim to put on between 25 and 35 lbs by the end of the pregnancy
  • 25 or over – you are considered to be overweight, and should aim to put on between 11 and 20 lbs during pregnancy

Your healthcare provider is best placed to offer you advice about weight gain, and will consider your full medical history when giving advice.

Gaining too little weight during pregnancy

There are many reasons why some women find it difficult to put weight on during pregnancy, including:

  • sickness and nausea – extreme morning sickness and nausea can actually cause some women to gain weight. If you are finding it difficult to keep food down, speak to your healthcare provider for advice. Make sure you stay hydrated, continue to take your daily prenatal vitamin, and try to eat when you feel you can.
  • metabolism – you may find that your body is simply too efficient at burning fat.
  • body image issues – if you suffer from food-related body image issues, you may find the idea of putting weight on during pregnancy upsetting. In fact, you may find yourself avoiding putting weight on for this reason. You may require support to deal with this during pregnancy, so speak to your healthcare provider immediately.

How to increase weight gain

To increase your weight gain, you could try:

  • eating more food – it could simply be that you’re not eating enough, so try eating more of the foods you enjoy. Remember, you should be eating a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy, so keep choosing fresh foods and vegetables. Make sure you snack between meal times, and eat whenever you feel hungry.
  • eat more fatty foods – avocados, nuts and coconut oil are all healthy fatty foods. Increase the amount of these foods in your diet, and you may find it becomes easier to gain a few pounds, without eating unhealthy processed foods. Cooking with coconut oil, eating peanut butter on toast before bed, and having an avocado as your mid-morning snack are all tasty and healthy ways to increase the fat in your diet.
  • slow down – don’t stop exercising altogether, but if you’re a bit of a gym bunny, you may need to cut back a bit. Staying fit and active during pregnancy is important, and there are lots of benefits to exercise during pregnancy, but you also need to make sure you are able to gain weight. Keep exercising, but reduce the frequency, duration or intensity of your workout.

When to seek help

Your healthcare provider wants to support you through pregnancy, and this includes offering advice and support about weight gain. If you are worried that you haven’t gained enough weight, talk to your healthcare provider who will be able to offer tailored advice to help you gain weight. Gaining too little weight during pregnancy can increase the chances of pregnancy complications, low birth weight and, perhaps surprisingly, childhood obesity, so it is important to seek help early.

Are you struggling with weight gain this pregnancy?

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Fiona PeacockGaining Too Little Weight During Pregnancy

Comments 3

  1. SD

    I lost weight, then gained a little bit but my doc said I’m healthy and as long as I’m eating they aren’t worried yet. Im mostly just tired and I walk a lot in my job.. I don’t diet or exercise so dunno why I’m not gaining a lot. Baby just suckling all my energy I guess haha.

  2. Krista

    Although I was overweight on booking (BMI 30.5), literally none of my doctors have commented on that, or mentioned any weight gain targets, and last time I met my midwife and mentioned it as one of the reasons for having a high risk pregnancy, as I understand, she completely dismissed it – “don’t worry about that at all”.
    Having said that, I didnt put on any weight until about 28th week (first baby, expected in the beginning of May), I even lost some in the first months. Didn’t have any sickness, but I did completely go off my “regular” eating habits that included sweets (I didn’t want to see a single sweet until 28wks or so), ready made microwave meals (couldn’t bear a spoonful, ugh) and occasional junk food. My biggest treats became hot lemon water while working (café – perfect place to keep downing it) and carrot batons all day, any time and occasion.
    In addition, it’s worth remembering most of the weight comes in the last trimester. I’ve gone from hardly putting anything on until week 28, to extra 5 kilos now in 33 + 5. This week, though, I’m interested in only one or two bowls of fruit salad with some yoghurt a day, or carrots with cheese, nothing else is appealing. 😀
    In brief (ha ha, right?), a long as the health care provider confirms that the baby is growing well and the tests and scans are coking back good, it is fine.:)

  3. Meem

    I’m in week 27, pregnant with my first baby girl ❤️, I just gain 1 pound .. I was a bit worried at first , but the doctors say that I’m healthy and the baby is healthy.. And all my blood test are normal .. So I’m trying to stay positive .. Just listen to what ur docters say they know best .. Good luck to all Mamas out there ☺️❤️

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