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Weight gain and loss in pregnancy

George Macones, MD, MSCE
Section Editor
Vincenzo Berghella, MD
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


Maternal prepregnancy weight, body mass index (BMI), pattern of gestational weight gain, and total gestational weight gain are factors determining offspring birth weight, weight for length, and adiposity. Birth weight and adiposity are important because they have a major impact on neonatal morbidity and mortality, and also appear to affect early adult weight and long-term health [1-5]. As an example, low or high birth weight may affect the child's future risks of developing diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Gestational weight gain also impacts the mother, as excessive gestational weight gain increases her risk of postpartum weight retention and thus increases her risk of becoming obese or developing worsening obesity.

Given the importance of gestational weight gain and birth weight, guidelines regarding appropriate levels of weight gain in pregnancy have been promoted worldwide [6]. Although the importance of appropriate weight gain is well established, most women gain too little or too much weight during pregnancy [7-9].


Biologic factors — Maternal weight gain during pregnancy can be attributed primarily to increases in maternal body water and fat. On average, weight gain at term is distributed as follows:

Fetus: 7 to 8 pounds (3.2 to 3.6 kg)

Fat stores: 6 to 8 pounds (2.7 to 3.6 kg)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 24, 2017.
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