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All About Pregnancy

Second Trimester Pregnancy Weight Gain: What to Know

It's important to keep pregnancy weight gain on track during the middle months

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The second trimester of your pregnancy is the perfect time to put on the pounds now that you can stomach something more exotic than a smoothie. But gaining too much weight (or too little) can increase your risk for complications, including gestational diabetes, premature birth, and high blood pressure, so it's important to try to stick to the recommended weight gain. (Yes, we know it's hard! In fact, only one out of three women in the U.S. is able to do so, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) Here’s what to know so you can gain what your baby needs: 


Now’s the time to gain

Even if you lost a pound or two in the first trimester due to morning sickness, don't worry. “The second trimester is when we start to see bigger jumps in a baby’s size and development,” explains Lindsay Appel, MD, an ob/gyn with the Family Childbirth and Children’s Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

Keep the total in mind

“I usually tell patients to aim for a gain of three to four pounds in their first trimester, then one pound per week for the rest of their pregnancy,” explains Grace Lau, MD, assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Health in New York City. But if you’re overweight, stick to a 15- to 25-pound gain. Is your BMI over 30? Gain 20 pounds max, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Stay on track if possible

Gaining too much during your middle trimester seems to be a reliable predictor of how much you’ll gain overall. One study found that normal-weight women who gained about a pound a week this trimester had a 77 percent chance of sticking to the recommended amount for the rest of their pregnancy. Overweight women who gained too much weight had a 94 percent chance of gaining too many pounds by pregnancy’s end.

Forget eating for two

You’re actually eating for a very tiny little fetus, not two full-sized adults, points out Dr. Lau. “You do need to eat a little but more, but not as much as people think.” In fact, a woman only needs about 300 to 400 extra calories per day during her second and third trimesters.

Make those extra calories count

A bag of sriracha chips might sound yummy right about now, but for a true baby-building snack, load up on high-quality combos most of the time. Good choices: an apple plus ½ cup of lowfat cottage cheese or veggies with ¼ cup of hummus. 

Don’t stress out

Dr. Lau encourages women not to focus on any one given week or month: “The overall trend in your weight gain is more important. It's all about eating a well balanced diet, and being mentally and physically healthy.”