used to determine how much weight a woman should
gain during pregnancy. See chart on page 3.
Obese women (BMI > 30) can have successful preg-
nancies and healthy babies if they watch their weight
gain. Obese women should gain no more than 15
pounds, but cutting calories below required levels dur-
ing pregnancy has been associated with reduced birth
weight and is not recommended. It is also suggested
that obese women receive nutrition counseling to en-
sure they get enough nutrients and regular physical ac-
tivity, and to discourage weight loss during pregnancy.
Carrying multiple babies presents unique chal-
lenges. Regardless of their pre-pregnancy weight and
height, women carrying twins should gain 35 to 45
pounds, and women carrying triplets, 50 pounds.
PATTERN OF WEIGHT GAIN
Patterns of weight gain are as important as total weight
gain. While setting goals for total weight gain is impor-
tant, weight gain progress needs to be carefully moni-
tored. These records of weight gain will begin with
taking accurate measurements from the first prenatal
visit with regular weigh-ins recorded at each visit.
Weight maintenance or slight weight losses are normal
during the first trimester, or first 13 weeks of pregnancy.
However, women should aim to gain a total of four
pounds during this time. Weight gain should come
from the nutrient-dense foods described earlier in
this brochure. Women should listen to their bodies’
signals and stop eating when they feel full, instead of
overeating because “you’re eating for two.”
Women with healthy pre-pregnancy weights should
gain an average of one pound a week during the sec-
ond and third trimesters. Women who are under-
weight before conception should gain slightly more
than one pound per week. Those who were initially
overweight should gain at a slower rate (slightly
more than a half a pound per week).
FOOD CRAVINGS AND AVERSIONS
Food cravings and dislikes of certain foods are com-
mon during pregnancy. There is no evidence that food
cravings result from nutritional deficiencies, and their
cause remains a mystery. It is acceptable to satisfy
food cravings within reason, especially when they
supply nutrients to the diet.
In rare cases, some pregnant women crave nonfood
substances, such as laundry detergent or clay. This is
called pica. The consumption of nonfood items can
be dangerous for both mother and baby. In some
cases pica involves eating large amounts of nonfood
items that displace foods and interfere with getting
enough nutrients. Examples of these nonfood items
include clay, starch, ice, coffee grounds, or baking
soda. If a woman experiences nonfood cravings, she
should talk to her healthcare provider right away.
Physical activity is another critical part of good
health. Pregnant women are encouraged to include
30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity on
most, if not all, days of the week. Activities may in-
clude walking or swimming, but should not include
those associated with a high risk of falling or injury.
If being physically active for 30 minutes at one time
is not possible in your schedule, you can split up the
time into three 10-minute intervals throughout the
day. Women with special circumstances should con-
sult with their healthcare provider about how much
exercise and at what intensity is right for them.
INTERNATIONAL FOOD INFORMATION COUNCIL (IFIC) FOUNDATION
8 Healthy EATING DURING PREGNANCY