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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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The 411 on Pregnancy Weight Gain

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understanding pregnancy weight gainWhen you first find out you’re pregnant, you want to do everything you can to make sure you have a healthy baby and a smooth pregnancy. Keeping your weight under control before and during pregnancy is an important way to ensure the health of you and your baby.

A recent study found that moms-to-be who were overweight before becoming pregnant or gained too many pounds during pregnancy were at higher risk of having a baby large for gestational age (greater than 8 pounds 13 ounces). Nearly half of women in the U.S. are already overweight or obese when they become pregnant! 

In the past, when an infant had a high birth weight, it was attributed to high blood sugar in mothers with gestational diabetes.  Recent findings suggest that excess weight gain in mothers without gestational diabetes increases a baby’s birth weight. Overall, 68 of the 472 women without gestational diabetes had newborns who were large for gestational age. This study found that for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) gained during pregnancy, the odds of having a large baby increased 12 percent. In addition, for every one-point increase in pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) during pregnancy, the odds of having a large baby increased by 16 percent. Shocking, right?

The current guidelines from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommend that women who are obese before becoming pregnant should gain no more than 11 to 20 pounds during pregnancy.  Women who are overweight should gain 15 to 25 pounds, and women who are within a normal weight should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Many people are under the impression they can eat whatever they want and gain as much weight as they want, but this isn’t the truth and we need to get away from this mentality.

The key to managing the birth weight of babies is managing your weight, ideally before pregnancy!  A healthy diet and regular activity are keys to a healthy pregnancy and healthy newborn. For recipe ideas and other tips on how to manage your weight before, during, and after pregnancy check out my new book, Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for Dummies!

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Nutrition

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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