Pregnancy Articles

Advice for Overweight Moms-to-Be

Four Tips to Help Manage Weight Gain

The Scenario:

You've just had a prenatal visit with your doctor. Because of your prepregnancy weight the doctor has advised you to gain no more than 15 pounds during your pregnancy.
You received a few general guidelines, such as "eat a balanced diet and walk 15 minutes a day." Now you're thinking, um, "thanks" and your mind is going crazy, you need more specific advice. You're wondering what to do. You need HELP!

The Solutions:

TIP #1: Stick to your weight gain goals. Goals for total weight gain during pregnancy should be based on your pre-pregnancy weight, height, and age. The National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine has issued recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy. Since every woman and every pregnancy is unique, you and your physician should discuss your specific weight gain guidelines and expectations.
  • Overweight women (BMI 26-29) should gain no more than 15-25 pounds during pregnancy.
  • Obese women (BMI greater that 29) should limit weight gain to no more that 15 pounds.
TIP #2: Keep track of your weight gain rate. Just as the amount of weight gain is important to a healthy pregnancy, so is the rate of gain. Remember, this is not the time to lose weight. Report any sudden and/or unexplained weight change to your physician immediately.
  • During the first trimester, limit weight gain to 0-5 pounds total.
  • During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, overweight women should gain about 2/3 pound per week (18 pounds total).
  • During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, obese women should gain about 1/2 pound per week (14 pounds).
TIP #3: Select one of these nutritious and caloric based food plans.


1500-1700 calories

1800-2000 calories


Grain, Pasta, Rice, Bread Group

6 servings

7 servings

-1 cup dry cereal

-1/2 cup pasta, rice, cooked cereal

-1 roll, biscuit, muffin, tortilla

-1/2 bagel, bun, English muffin


Vegetable Group

3 servings

4 servings

-3/4 cup juice

-1/2 cup cooked vegetable

-1 cup raw vegetable

Fruit Group

2 servings

3 servings

-3/4 cup juice

-1/2 cup cut fruit

-1 medium whole fruit

-1 1/2 ounces dry fruit

Dairy Group, low-fat

3 servings

3 servings

-1 cup low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt

-1 1/2 ounces low-fat cheese

-1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, pudding

Meat and Protein Group

6-9 ounces

6-9 ounces

One ounce equals:

-1 ounce lean meat, fish, poultry

-2 T peanut butter

-1/2 cup cooked dry beans or peas

-1 egg

-1/3 cup nuts, seeds

Healthy Fats

2 servings

3 servings

-1 teaspoon oil

-1 T regular salad dressing

-2 T reduced fat salad dressing

-2 T sour cream

-1 t regular mayonnaise

1 T reduced fat mayonnaise

  • If limiting weight gain to 15 pounds, select the 1500-1700 calorie plan.
  • If limiting weight gain to 15-25 pounds, select the 1800-2000 calorie plan.
  • As you and your physician monitor your weight gain, you can always increase calories to increase weight gain. Try not to go below the 1500 calories. If you are still gaining too quickly, you may need to increase activity.
  • These plans are nutritionally and calorically balanced for pregnancy. They were developed with a moderate carbohydrate amount to help in controlling appetite and weight but are still safe to use during pregnancy.
As you make your food selections, remember to:
  1. Monitor portion sizes. It is a good idea to weigh and measure your food items for better control.
  2. Include variety from each food group. This will increase the type and amount of vitamins and minerals you receive. It will also decrease boredom when you eat and add appeal to your meal.
  3. Use Baby Fit's food and nutrient tracker. This will help you keep track of total calorie and nutrient intake.
TIP #4: Stay Active with doctor's approval. Physical activity is important for most pregnancies. Besides helping you feel fit and energetic, exercise helps improve muscle tone, circulation and control weight gain. Moderate activity can relieve leg and back pain, help your posture, help you sleep better, prepare you for labor, and help you look and feel your best. Remember to check with your physician before starting any exercise program.
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About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. She teaches prenatal classes and counsels individuals, helping women eat right and stay fit before, during and after their pregnancies.
Becky Hand

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