Eating for Appropriate Weight Gain During Pregnancy

image Some women may think of pregnancy as their ticket to eat anything they want, indulging any and all cravings and leaving portion control by the wayside. Put aside the thought you are eating for 2. It may sound ideal, but that kind of thinking is not an ideal way to approach nutrition when making food choices during pregnancy. Both inadequate weight gain and excess weight gain during pregnancy pose risks to both mother and child. A balanced diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and provide the best nutrition for you and your unborn baby. The following guidelines can help you find a nutrition balance for your pregnancy.

Guidelines for Weight Gain

Exactly how much weight gain to aim for will vary among women and depends on several factors, including the mother’s pre-pregnancy weight, height, age, and health status, as well as whether or not the pregnancy will involve twins, triplets, or more. See your doctor to determine the best weight gain goal for you. In general, the following Institute of Medicine and National Research Council guidelines are used for women with a single-baby pregnancy:
  • Women beginning pregnancy at a normal weight (defined as body mass index [BMI] of 18.5-24.9) are advised to gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy.
  • Underweight women (BMI 18.4 or less) are advised to gain 28-40 pounds.
  • Overweight women (BMI 25-29.9) are advised to gain 15-25 pounds.
  • Obese women (BMI 30 and over) are advised to gain 11-20 pounds.
Of course, everyone is different. Here are some common problems if you stray too far off the recommended weight range.

Risks of Too Little or Too Much Weight Gain

The correct weight gain is one of many factors that may help ensure a healthy pregnancy. Keep in mind this is not the time to try a new, fad, or extreme diet to control weight gain. It can be harmful to you and your child.

Risks to the Mother

Gaining too little weight can increase the risk for:
  • Delivering a low birthweight baby
  • Preterm birth
  • Miscarriage
Gaining too much weight can increase the mother’s risk for conditions, such as: Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can also make it harder to lose the weight afterward. Women who gain the suggested weight during pregnancy tend to lose most of it once the baby is born and the rest in the months following the birth.

Risks to Your Baby

Low birthweight or preterm birth is associated with:
  • Poor growth
  • Developmental problems
  • Higher risk of jaundice
  • Lung and breathing problems
  • Systemic infection—neonatal sepsis
  • Infant mortality
Gaining too much weight can increases the risk of having a larger than average baby at birth. Risks for your baby (which may continue into adulthood) include:Small changes in your diet will benefit both you and your baby through pregnancy and even after birth.

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