If you started off your pregnancy carrying too much weight for your height, you're far from alone. More than half of pregnant women are overweight or obese.
You're considered overweight if your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9. (Your BMI reflects the relationship between your height and weight, and is an estimate of body fat.) You're considered obese if your BMI is 30 or greater.
Not sure what your BMI is? Try this BMI calculator.
How much weight to gain if you're pregnant and overweight or obese
How much to gain during pregnancy depends on your BMI:
- If your BMI is 25 to 29.9: It's recommended that you gain between 15 and 25 pounds by the end of your pregnancy, or approximately 2 to 3 pounds per month in your second and third trimesters.
- If your BMI is 30 or higher: You're advised to gain only 11 to 20 pounds during pregnancy.
A study published in 2010 in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that pregnant women who gained more than the recommended weight were 50 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes than moms-to-be whose weight stayed within recommended limits.
For guidance, try our pregnancy weight gain calculator and learn more about pregnancy weight gain.
Can I diet to lose weight during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is definitely not the time to go on a weight-loss diet: Restricting your food intake is potentially hazardous to you and your developing baby. But many plus-size women do lose weight during pregnancy without dieting.
In the first trimester, it's common to lose weight as the result of morning sickness: The nausea can diminish your appetite, and the vomiting can cause you to miss out on calories. But even so, your baby will get all the necessary calories.
Overweight women have an extra reserve of calories in stored fat, so as your baby grows, it's not harmful to maintain or even lose a little weight at first. What's not okay is losing weight because you're intentionally cutting calories (and, as a result, limiting nutrients).
How to stay on track with weight gain if you're overweight or obese
Exercising and eating healthy food can help you with your weight gain goals, and both can have a positive impact on your pregnancy, reducing your risk of pregnancy problems like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. They'll also help you feel good during your pregnancy and beyond.
Eat a healthy pregnancy diet
Research, planning, and tracking helps you eat well during pregnancy and follow the seven principles of pregnancy nutrition.
Use our handy pregnancy food diary to make sure you're getting enough nutrients and drinking plenty of water every day. The diary is also useful for tracking your mood and hunger levels, so you can spot patterns you may need to change.
If you need help planning your pregnancy meals, seek out a registered dietitian. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all women receive counseling to help them achieve optimum health – including a healthy weight and diet – before becoming pregnant.
If you're a relative newcomer to exercise, start with pregnancy exercise for beginners. You can enjoy low-impact exercise such as walking, swimming, and low-impact aerobics. Never start an exercise regime without first talking to your healthcare provider. And be sure to follow the 13 rules of safe pregnancy exercise.
Some women do lose weight during pregnancy if they make healthy diet and lifestyle changes, so be sure to check in with your doctor if this happens to you.