How Much Weight Should You Gain During Pregnancy?

I was going to share a pregnancy update today but then decided to focus on a topic that I’ve wanted to address, apologize for and lastly celebrate – weight gain during pregnancy!

Baby Update

Baby is now the size of a cauliflower blossom, 4-6 lbs and 17-19 inches. His bones are hardening which I can now feel pretty easily at all times and allegedly he is keeping his eyes open while awake. Weird.

Weight Gained

To date, I’ve gained a total of about 22-23 lbs. I gained 3 lbs in 3 weeks according to my doctor which is normal for the third trimester. Since my last blog update at 31 weeks, I have pretty much stayed the same.

Based on your pre pregnancy weight, here is a breakdown of recommended weight gain:

  • 25-35 pounds if you were a healthy weight before pregnancy, with a BMI of 18.5-24.9.
  • 28-40 pounds if you were underweight before pregnancy with a BMI of less than 18.5.
  • 15-25 pounds if you were overweight before pregnancy with a BMI of 25-29.9.
  • 11-20 pounds if you were obese before pregnancy with a BMI of over 30.

According to Expecting Better however, if you were err on the side of caution regarding too much or too little, you probably want to go above the recommended amount. Studies have shown that babies whose moms gain too little have more complications that those whose moms go above.

Real quick – let’s just look at where the weight comes from. It’s not all fat, trust me.

  • 1.5 lbs. the placenta
  • 7 lbs. maternal stores of fat, protein, and other nutrients
  • 7.5 lbs. your average full-term baby
  • 2 lbs.  breast tissue (we know it feels like so much more!)
  • 4 lbs. increased fluid volume
  • 4 lbs. increased blood volume
  • 2 lbs. the uterus
  • 2 lbs. amniotic fluid

That’s a total of 30 lbs.

Comparing Pregnancies

As a member of January 2016 due date groups on Facebook and The Bump, I find it so interesting how people love to compare their weight gains with total strangers. People ask questions like, “I’ve only gained 10 lbs, is this normal?” without sharing any information as to whether they were underweight, overweight or whatever prior to getting knocked up.

There are women who publicly lament on these forums that they feel terrible for gaining “too much weight” and other women love to share that they’ve lost or only gained 5 lbs.  You can’t compare yourself to other women you do not know. You should be loving your body NOW more than ever. You are growing a freaking human being. Do you know how cool that is? It creeps me out to think there is an alien inside of my uterus.

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I share my weight on here because I know you guys are interested (based on clicks). You know what I started out at and I share what I eat and do for exercise. However, sharing how much weight you’ve gained or lost in a forum during pregnancy should mean shit unless there is context and even still people shouldn’t compare their own weight gain. If I had been unfortunate enough to have bad morning sickness, I would have gained so much more weight by now because I would have had to eat all my comfort foods and wouldn’t have been able to exercise. I get that we want to know what is normal and what is not but isn’t that what doctors and midwives are for????

#HashTag Can You Believe This Sexy Body Is Pregnant!?

Ok, so even still, I am guilty. Every pregnancy is different. I don’t want to compare myself but find that I totally still do it. I have a friend who is 10 weeks behind me and I see that she still isn’t showing at all in the pictures she posts on Instagram. With each weekly pregnancy update, I’m like, “Lady, stop bragging! I get it. You’re still thinner than 90% of America at 23 weeks pregnant.”

Then I look at my own Instagram feed from when I was 23 weeks and feel incredibly guilty for probably making someone else feel this way. I’m not perfect and while I was/am trying to share my progress, please do not compare your numbers or pictures to mine. I promise you, for every bump update I post – there are 10 angles that don’t make the cut. I’m not photoshopping myself thinner but I’m selectively choosing which picture has the best angle, the strongest jaw line, and least lazy eye. Also, in focus.

Bump Shot Pictures

This is a picture of a lady who gave birth 2 days later to a healthy baby boy. Seriously. Her name is also Sarah!

But more importantly, what sane grown woman has a phone case like this? Also – why did she feel the need to pose in lingerie? Am I supposed to do this? Six days after giving birth, of course she posted a picture or her near six pack abs.

I feel sorry for this lady, really I do. What low self esteem must you have to post pictures naked for social media as validation of your “sexy” pregnant body? It certainly wasn’t to make other people feel good about themselves but for self gratification, right? Right??? BUT WAIT! NO! Now I’m contributing to the whole “women tearing each other down” trend Taylor Swift so strongly opposes. I’m confused. Am I supposed to support this or be against it? I don’t even know anymore. For the first time in my life I actually applaud Kim Kardashian’s transparency when it comes to her pregnancy weight gain.

I’ve always looked forward to being pregnant and being able to “eat what I want.” When did it become a time when women would so publicly take pride in how little weight they gained? I’ve got will power that will be exercised as soon as this kid comes out, but until then, pass me the Whole Foods Oreos.

I Love Being Pregnant

A lot of people now ask me if I’m ready for the baby to come and truly I’m not. I love being pregnant for so many reasons, from the little kicks to the kind manners people have when they see me on a train or in the grocery store.

Most importantly, ever since college I’ve regularly categorized days as good or bad often based on my food decisions. Being pregnant, there are no bad days. Some have more sugar than others but I’ve never given myself such self love regardless of what I put into my body. I make healthy decisions but I do not restrict my diet in any way. We bought these on Saturday and they were gone by Tuesday. Insert emoji girl with her hands up.

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I do try to avoid processed foods (with the exception of seasonal or homemade cookies) and chemicals but calories to me are so not important because I find I am much more in tune these days with my hunger. I look at what is the most nutritious but also delicious. What brings me joy? Since my weight gain is on track with what is normal for my pre-baby body, I’m really looking forward to a holiday season without hating myself for having too much stuffing at Thanksgiving or too many cookies at the holiday party.

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Pre-pregnancy I would compare myself to other fitness bloggers/models/trainers and the past 8 months have been an amazing vacation from all that bullshit. I really hope I can continue to practice self compassion once LittleFit is here so that I can be a good role model especially if the next one is a girl.

Did you ever find yourself comparing your pregnancy body to others?  If you have never been pregnant, do you notice a change in perception towards what a healthy pregnancy should look like?

How Much Weight Should You Gain During Pregnancy?

About The Author


  • Katie @ Live Half Full

    For me, pregnancy was actually when I was able to stop comparing myself to others. You have so little control over your body that I felt like it finally solidified my body is unique and so is my journey. I’m so glad for the experience!

  • Lindsay

    This: “… I’ve never given myself such self love regardless of what I put into my body” -- Nailed it Sarah! This was exactly my experience with my pregnancies. I LOVED that (at the time) it was the only time in my life where I felt sane and maps normal around food. I knew that feeling was attainable post-pregnancy, and I can say I’ve finally found it. I live with so much self love now! Perhaps age has something to do with it, but I’m grateful for how far I’ve come.

  • Sara

    I think everyone gains weight differently and just like it’s probably not right to mock someone for gaining too much, I don’t necessarily think it’s helpful to mock someone who has gained too little. I wish I had the confidence to take such a kick ass picture like that model. As you said, she gave birth to a healthy baby, and that’s all that matters. I don’t find that model’s body aspirational, but I do find it as confirmation that everyone carries their pregnancy different. Every body is different and we should celebrate those differences.

  • Marion

    Love this. Thank you for writing it! When I was pregnant with my son last year, I had a terrible time comparing myself to other women. I stayed fairly small and only gained 18 lbs. It used to bring me to tears when friends and strangers would say things about how little I was, like I was doing harm to my son. I had a HUGE appetite and ate all day long and still had a hard time putting on weight. My OBGYN was always very reassuring and told me that “clydesdales have clydesdales and ponies have ponies”, which makes a lot of sense. I gave birth to a perfectly healthy and strong 7lb baby boy who is now in the 95% percentile for height and weight at age 15 months!

  • Rebekah

    I’m not pregnant, but I too am trying to practice more “self compassion” as you say when it comes to my diet. I’ve gained about 10 pounds since I got married a year and 5 months ago. I call it happy and weight, but it’s also healthier weight. I gained muscle (may not be much, but it’s definitely more than I had then) and I started eating more whole foods and better, more well-rounded meals. I have a glass or two of wine when I want it and I still work out 4+ times per week doing pilates, spinning, and your videos when i’m at home. For every woman--pregnant or not--it’s important to enjoy what you eat and make sure you’re putting good stuff in, but still enjoy treats occasionally. You’re doing a great job preparing your baby boy to be healthy! I had never thought about the inevitability of body obsession transcending into pregnancy as well. If we’re all going to compare ourselves and be critical, at least give a woman a break when she’s pregnant AND when she’s just had a baby! The only miraculous thing I’ve done with my body is…well…nothing that I can think of, but mothers deserve a freaking break on the critique!

  • Aleah @ Their Fit Life

    I love this! I have the same process about eating what you want during pregnancy too. It’s so empowering to be in tune with your hunger though. I find that when I’m trying to listen to my body, I make better decisions (whether about eating a cookie or a salad). It’s so freeing. I love that pregnancy has given that to you! Even when I try to apply intuitive eating or whatever it only lasts a few days at most haha

  • Amy

    I am so comparing mine this time around. I showed fast for my first and gained 12 lbs first tri (but i needed to as i was underweight and had just ran my first full marathon. This time around i only gained 5 lbs first tri as i was at a healthier weight but man my belly popped RIGHT AWAY. Im only a few days shy of 16 weeks and look like i did at 20 weeks plus pregnant. Which was still more belly than most women have at that stage. There is a girl i follow 2 weeks ahead of me and pregnant with her second and still not showing…and she has a similar frame to me…so im like what the heck. While i try not to compare its so hard not too…i think all we can do is acknowledge and accept that we are human and compare ourselves and try to be more mindful of it and try not to be hard on ourselves for it! Thats all we can do!

  • Carey

    When I was pregnant with my now 8-month-old son, I compared myself like crazy…until the number on the scale kept creeping up and I started to get depressed instead of enjoying my pregnancy. I gained 55 pounds and easily lost all of it within 4 months (and more since then). In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t stressed myself out about the weight because I was taking care of myself in the right way. I still loved being pregnant, ate a healthy diet and worked out regularly the entire time, so my body just decided it needed a little more to support my big, healthy boy.

  • Jill B.

    LOVE this post and your honesty. Strangely, I felt more liberated and confident in my body while pregnant than ever before. I love that you feel this way too!

  • C

    At the beginning of 2nd trimester, I definitely compared myself to others, as I hated that mushy in between phase before I popped. But ever since popping, I have to say that I have never in my life loved my body more. I have been self-conscious of my body, sadly, since 9 years old (even when I realllly shouldn’t have been…I’ll look back at pictures of my honeymoon when I literally had a 6-pack and yet remember how I felt nervous to take off my cover-up up the pool…sad) and this is the first time I get dressed in the morning based on what clothes I think are cute, not what I think will flatter my body. I’ve never felt sexier, stronger, or more confident, despite the fact that my workouts are now down to once a week prenatal yoga (last semester of grad school is kicking my ass in terms of free time) and that I have pasta for almost every dinner. It aaaalllmost makes me want to have more than my original plan of 2 babies just to get to be pregnant for more of my life, it’s so freeing for me.

  • Lorraine

    Wow why compare, we should just celebrate life! I must admit I was my hardest critic, not someone else stating their weight online. I was paying way too much attention to the scale. So far I’ve gained 20 pounds, but I’m giving myself some grace, as last time around I had put well on 30 pounds by now. 🙂

  • balancedrd

    I haven’t had a baby yet, but I am a dietitian and see a lot of pregnant women that are worried about their weight. You have such a good attitude about your pregnancy! And, you look awesome!!

  • Molly

    Thank you so much for your honesty. I am 18 weeks and I feel like I die a little inside when I hear other women talk about staying in their pre-pregnancy clothes until 30 weeks and I can’t fit into any pants with buttons! It’s really hard in our society to find any gain or change in your body as a positive thing even when it is!

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