Pregnancy and you blog

Pregnancy weight gain — Know the factors

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. July 8, 2011

A prenatal visit can be a joyful experience. You get to listen to your baby's heartbeat, and you're reassured about your baby's well-being and your own health. Still, you might dread getting on the scale. You might wonder why you never weigh the same on the scale at the office as the scale at home — or if the scale will reveal your dietary indiscretions.

Why the focus on pregnancy weight gain? The risk of pregnancy complications is higher in the upper and lower extremes of weight gain. If you gain too much weight during pregnancy, it can be challenging to lose the excess pounds afterward — and those pounds have the potential to stay with you for a lifetime.

Your health care provider will give you an idea of the amount of weight gain that's ideal for you and your baby. Generally, the amount of weight you're encouraged to gain depends on your pre-pregnancy weight:

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5): 28 to 40 pounds (about 13 to 18 kilograms)
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9): 25 to 35 pounds (about 11 to 16 kilograms)
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9): 15 to 25 pounds (about 7 to 11 kilograms)
  • Obese (BMI 30 or more): 11 to 20 pounds (about 5 to 9 kilograms)

So what should you do if you realize you're gaining too much weight? Start by forgiving yourself. Then look at the past few weeks to see if you can pinpoint any major contributing factors to your pregnancy weight gain. Brainstorm ways to deal with those issues. Remember, it might be easier to curb excess weight gain during pregnancy than it is to lose the pounds after pregnancy.

Likewise, what should you do if you're not gaining enough weight? My advice is the same. Look back on your eating habits and consider what you can learn. Remember that sometimes changing to a healthier diet can cause weight loss.

If you find you're having trouble managing your pregnancy weight, ask your health care provider for a referral to a nutritionist or dietitian. Also remember that weight gain is just one part of your pregnancy. Don't let the scale ruin the joy and excitement of pregnancy.

What are your strategies for gaining a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy? What are your struggles? Share your stories so that we can learn from each other.

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Jul. 08, 2011