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Pregnancy Weight Gain for Underweight Moms

Your baby’s health at birth is related to the amount of weight you gain while pregnant. If you do not gain enough weight, you will be at risk of miscarriage or your baby may be born too early and face health problems at birth. If you were underweight before pregnancy, you will need to gain between 28 to 40 pounds. Discuss your recommended weight gain with your doctor. Gaining weight can be hard for some people. Choose higher calorie, healthy foods from each of the food groups.


Tips to Increase Your Calories

  • Eat 4 or 5 small meals and snacks throughout the day. Set daily reminders on your phone to remind you when to eat.
  • Drink whole milk. Add instant breakfast mixes to your milk for extra calories. When making hot cereals like oatmeal, use milk instead of water.
  • Choose granola made with oats, nuts, and dried fruits instead of whole-wheat flake cereal.
  • Cheese adds protein, calcium, and calories. Add it to egg dishes such as omelettes or scrambled eggs. Add fish, ground meat, or chicken to tomato-based pasta sauces.
  • Instead of a baked potato, choose mashed potatoes and add cheese. Cheese is also great to add to your steamed vegetables like broccoli. Use oil-based salad dressings on your salads.
  • Don’t drink too much before eating since it can fill you up and make you less hungry.
  • Do not drink more than 2-3 cups of coffee, tea, or other caffeine drinks because caffeine can lessen your appetite.


Quick and Easy Snack Ideas

  • Whole-grain bagel or muffin
  • Cereal or oatmeal with whole milk
  • Whole-milk yogurt topped with fruit and nuts
  • Peanut butter on whole-grain bread or sliced apples with whole milk
  • Cheese and whole-grain crackers, vegetable sticks, 100% fruit juice
  • Sandwiches with tuna, chicken, or egg salad with lettuce, tomato, and mayo
  • Low-salt peanuts and sunflower seeds with 100% fruit juice mixed with club soda
  • Raisins, peanuts, and whole-grain cereal mix
  • Banana or pumpkin bread with a slice of cheese and an orange
  • Canned fruit with cottage cheese


When to Call the Doctor

Gradual, steady weight gain is important during pregnancy. It’s important to check your weight regularly. If you are having difficulty gaining weight, talk to your doctor about how you can reach a healthy weight during pregnancy.



  1. American Pregnancy Association. Eating For Two When Over Or Under Weight. April 2017. Available at Accessed June 2021.
  2. Medline Plus. When you need to gain more weight during pregnancy. October 2020. Available at Accessed June 2021.
  3. United States Department of Agriculture. (2020, December). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Accessed June 2021
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