How to Help a Fetus Gain Weight

Fetal weight gain is important for health.

A healthy pregnancy increases the odds of a healthy baby. A fetus must gain an appropriate amount of weight or he is at risk of health complications during pregnancy and at birth. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a fetus's nourishment comes in the form of a mother's weight gain and her concentration on eating a balanced diet. Lifestyle choices can also affect adequate fetal weight gain. With some easy and some more difficult changes, a mother can be sure her unborn baby gains enough weight and faces a healthy future. Enlist the help of an online calorie counter to work out a healthy nutrition plan.


Step 1

Discuss weight gain recommendations and needed lifestyle changes with your obstetrician. This gives you an idea about how much weight you should gain during pregnancy so that your unborn baby will gain adequate weight. If you are already pregnant and your baby seems small, your doctor can advise you about eating differently or changing lifestyle habits to help him catch up.

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Step 2

Overhaul your diet. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, milk or other dairy foods, meats, and eggs and preparing them with healthy oils. Additionally, the American Pregnancy Association says that increasing protein intake can up fetal weight gain. Also add foods with healthy fats to your meals, such as avocados and nuts. Healthy snacks and fruit juices can help you reach a higher calorie count too. Increasing calories by eating more healthy foods and adding additional sources of protein can help you and your unborn baby gain a healthy amount of weight. This is true for women who have just learned they are pregnant and for those who are already pregnant and need to up their baby's weight gain before birth.


Step 3

Make necessary lifestyle changes as advised by your doctor. This includes quitting smoking. The Centers for Disease Control says that smoking cigarettes while pregnant increases the chances of having an underweight fetus. Some chemicals can also produce inadequate fetal weight gain. Paint fumes, some cleaning supplies and insecticides can undermine the baby's development. Your doctor can help you determine if you are exposed to a substance that has the potential to slow your fetus's weight gain. Avoiding drugs and alcohol is very important, because regular use makes it difficult for a fetus to gain weight, and it can produce health concerns before and after birth. Take vitamins if the doctor advises this.


Step 4

Exercise. Being sure to get adequate physical activity during pregnancy helps a fetus grow and develop in a healthy way, including gaining enough weight. The Centers for Disease Control recommends walking, yoga and swimming.

Things You'll Need

  • Healthy foods

  • Prenatal vitamins

  • Smoking cessation aids (for smokers)

  • Exercise equipment


Discuss any new diet changes or exercise routines with your obstetrician to be sure you aren't putting your health or your unborn baby's health in jeopardy.


Proper diet and exercise help your fetus gain weight; however, they do not promise a healthy baby. Many health conditions, including birth defects, that cause low weight in a fetus are present from conception.



references & resources

Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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