I'm 20 weeks pregnant and I'm worried that I'm getting too heavy. How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
I'm not surprised that you're confused. If you've read the pregnancy magazines, you've probably seen ten different answers! There is a wide range of normal--not only in terms of total weight gain, but also when this weight gain occurs. Some women gain evenly throughout; some gain predominantly in the first or third trimesters--any of these patterns is normal.
Typical "recommended" weight gain for term pregnant women is 25 to 35 pounds. In heavier women, less weight gain is needed (10-15 pounds) while underweight women may gain 40 pounds or more. You should know that these recommendations were made by a panel of experts, and have not been proven or subjected to rigorous study.
I counsel pregnant women very loosely regarding weight gain. In women with a history of anorexia or bulimia, I spend more time emphasizing normal body changes during pregnancy and ensuring that minimum weight gain targets are reached. Otherwise, I rarely see a patient with inadequate weight gain. For women who are concerned about too much weight gain, I explain the wide range of normal and emphasize that pregnancy is never a time to diet. The best ways to slow weight gain in a healthy manner during pregnancy are to increase activity (walking, water aerobics, etc.), eat several small (instead of regular-sized) meals a day, and substitute lower calorie snacks for higher ones (fruit for potato chips; fat-free fudgesicles for ice cream). Breast feeding can also help with post-delivery weight loss.