By Rosanne Rust
New recommendations from the Institute of Medicine state that babies born to overweight mothers have a greater risk of premature birth or later becoming overweight themselves. The old guidelines looked at the weight gain as important to the health of the baby, but the new guidelines also consider the mother’s health. According to the new guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy, women who can begin their pregnancy at a healthy weight have less chance of pregnancy-related high blood pressure or diabetes, and reduced risk of needed a C-section.
So if you are planning a pregnancy in the near future, what do you need to know? For starters, you should check with your doctor and determine what your body mass index (BMI) is. Ask your doctor or dietitian to give you your BMI, which is based on your height and weight, or try going to a website such as http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/ and plug in your numbers.
Once you know what your BMI is, the recommended weight gain for each category of prepregnancy BMI is as follows:
• Underweight (BMI < 18.5 kg/m2); total weight gain range: 28 to 40 pounds
• Normal weight (BMI 18.5 - 24.9 kg/m2); total weight gain range: 25 to 35 pounds
• Overweight (BMI 25.0 - 29.9 kg/m2); total weight gain range: 15 to 25 pounds
• Obese (BMI ≥ 30.0 kg/m2); total weight gain range: 11 to 20 pounds
So you can see, that if you are overweight or obese going into a pregnancy, the weight gain recommendation is quite low, gaining only eleven to twenty pounds or so. As always, weight gain should be minimal in the first trimester (the first 12-13 weeks), and then a weight gain of about one half to one pound a week during the second and third trimesters (week 14-40) is still recommended. Women may consider getting nutrition counseling from an RD, as soon as they know they are pregnant, to help them understand how to control calories and include nutrients in the diet.
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