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Learn more about weight management services at the Lifespan Center for Weight and Wellness
The amount of weight gained during pregnancy is an important factor for the health of your pregnancy and for your and your baby’s long-term health.
The amount of weight you should gain is determined by your body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is classified as normal weight. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is classified as overweight. A BMI of 30 or greater is classified as obese. Women with a normal weight BMI are recommended to gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, women with an overweight BMI should gain 15 to 25 pounds, and women with a BMI of 30 or greater should gain 11 to 20 pounds.
Women who have excess weight before pregnancy have an increased risk of various complications, including gestational diabetes; high blood pressure disorders, such as preeclampsia; sleep apnea; and the need for a C-section. They are also more likely to have children who become overweight or obese.
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can increase the risk of health problems in your baby, such as being born significantly larger than average, and can cause complications at birth, such as shoulder dystocia or preterm birth. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can also increase your risk of gestational diabetes as well as postpartum weight retention.
Your doctor will help you determine how much you should gain and help manage your weight throughout pregnancy.
One in five women in the U.S. have a BMI of 30 or more at the start of pregnancy. Around 1 in 5 women gain more than 40 pounds during pregnancy, which is more than any woman should gain. Only about one-third of women gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy.
Excess weight can cause some day-to-day health issues, including breathlessness, snoring or sleep apnea, heartburn, increased sweating, fatigue, and joint and back pain. Obesity can lead to high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels, which can also affect your pregnancy.
The most common factors that contribute to increased weight are excess food intake and a lack of physical activity. Some medications, such as certain antidepressants or anticonvulsants, and some diseases, such as hypothyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome, can contribute to obesity.
Losing weight prior to your pregnancy is the best way to decrease the risk. Even losing 10 to 20 pounds can improve your overall health and start you on the way to a healthier pregnancy.
Although there are risks, you can still have a healthy pregnancy if you have excess weight. You will need regular prenatal care to monitor your pregnancy for complications and prepare for special considerations for your labor and delivery. You will need to eat healthy to provide good nourishment to both your baby and your own body.
Some healthy habits you can start at home to lose weight before becoming pregnant or to help manage your weight while pregnant include:
Your weight and the growth of your baby should be tracked at each prenatal visit. If you are gaining less than the recommended guidelines, but your baby is growing well, you do not have to increase your weight gain. If your baby is not growing well, your doctor may make changes to your diet and exercise plan.
Call your doctor if you have any symptoms such as: