Weight is a sensitive topic for many Americans, and causes everyone embarrassment. You have a portion of the population that is grossly overweight and another half that is obsessed with their body image. Somewhere in the middle is the healthy road to travel when it comes to your weight. When you’re pregnant, you’re going to gain weight. But it’s important to know what a healthy weight is during pregnancy, to ensure that your health isn’t harmed.
Why is Obesity Harmful During Pregnancy?
Americans have steadily gained weight over the years and unfortunately so have women entering into pregnancy. Twenty percent of all pregnant women are now considered obese with a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 25. The body mass index is a ratio of your weight to height. A woman who is 5 foot 5 inches would be classified as obese at 150 pounds. Gaining too much weight either during or before pregnancy puts both the mother and child at risk.
From the mother’s perspective, excessive weight gain is hard to shed. After two or three pregnancies this can result in significant obesity and negative health implications like diabetes. Children are also programmed in the womb by the amount of weight their mothers gain. The mother’s obesity turns on genes in the baby which promote weight gain and diabetes during childhood and adulthood. Eating too little is not a solution either. Not eating enough can also induce genetic changes that adversely affect growth. This means moms should try to hit the sweet spot in weight gain while pregnant.
My BMI is Important, How Can I Measure It?
An excellent online BMI calculator comes from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. You can calculate your BMI directly on their site.
At the start of your pregnancy calculate your BMI so you can get an idea of how much weight you should gain. It is also important that you discuss with your OB or midwife how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. If you can stick to a healthy diet plan during pregnancy, using the babyQ scoring system as a guide for example, the proper weight gain will happen automatically.
What Is The Proper Amount of Weight to Gain During Pregnancy?
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has published guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. These guidelines take into account how heavy a mother is at the start of her pregnancy. Mothers who are overweight need to gain less than those who begin pregnancy at a normal weight. Likewise mothers who are underweight need to gain more than those who are normal weight. Here is the table from the IOM:
Because most women gain very little or lose weight in the first trimester, all recommendations apply to the second and third trimesters. With the increase in women who are defined as morbidly obese, with BMI’s greater than 40, some authorities feel that they can safely get by with as little as 6 to 14 pounds of weight gain during pregnancy. This limited increase in weight also helps the truly overweight woman lose weight after her pregnancy. For twin pregnancy, the IOM recommends a gestational weight gain of 16.8–24.5 kg (37–54 lb.) for women of normal weight, 14.1–22.7 kg (31–50 lb.) for overweight women, and 11.3–19.1 kg (25–42 lb.) for obese women.
The IOM guidelines recognize that data are insufficient to determine the amount of weight women with triplet pregnancies or higher should gain. Also the IOM has acknowledged that morbidly obese women can gain less than their recommended weight gain of 11 pounds and still deliver a very healthy baby as long as the mother and fetus are followed closely by the obstetrician or midwife.
It’s important to track your weight gain during your pregnancy. Too much or too little can be harmful. By using the babyQ app, you can determine healthy lifestyle habits that will help keep your baby healthy both now and in the future.[Feature Image Courtesy of hin255 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]