Pregnancy Weight Gain: How Do You Weigh-in?

by Bridgette R. Odom

Pregnancy Weight GainPregnant women are told they shouldn't diet. We see from experts that controlling weight gain during pregnancy reduces not just the pounds, but also complications.

If you're confused about pregnancy weight gain, you're not alone. Your baby's growth and development depend on good nutrition that revolves around your eating plan.

We've gathered together the latest research results and recommendations to help guide your food choices for the next few months.

Recommended Pregnancy Weight Gain

The amount you should gain depends on your weight before you got pregnant.

  • If you were a healthy weight before pregnancy (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) it's recommended to gain 25-35 pounds.
  • If you were underweight before pregnancy (BMI less than 18.5) experts say 28-40 pounds.
  • If you were overweight before pregnancy (BMI 25 to 29.9) providers will tell you to gain 15-25 pounds.
  • If you were obese before pregnancy (BMI 30 or greater), you'll be told around 11-20 pounds.

Your pre-pregnancy weight, lifestyle, you and your baby's health all come into consideration when choosing your best eating plan for pregnancy.

Have a discussion with your midwife or doctor about your personal plan for weight control and diet. They'll be able to help you with the specifics of your situation.

Losing Weight Isn't Always Bad

Starting your pregnancy overweight increases the risk of complications, including gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.

Recent research suggests that obese and overweight moms-to-be benefit from specific dieting guidelines.

The women in the study received advise on limiting overall calorie intake, balancing protein, carbohydrates and fat, and eating foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.

Researchers found that dietary intervention was effective in cutting down the risk of gestational diabetes, preterm labor, preeclampsia and high blood pressure. Limiting intake had no harmful effects to the mother or child after delivery.

Does this research mean that you can lose all the weight you want during pregnancy? Absolutely not! It does mean that skipping food "rich" in empty calories and focusing on healthy lean proteins, whole grains and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can do good things for both you and your baby.

Overall, you'll gain less weight and face fewer pregnancy complications. You might even discover that you'll weigh less after your wee baby arrives.

Your baby benefits from the better diet, too. Your healthy food choices can reduce the risk of certain birth defects and sets the stage for long-term health.

What your baby "eats" in the womb matters right this moment and through your little girl's or boy's adult life.

Your Best Pregnancy Diet

You and baby-to-be (or babies!) need nutrients and the best place to get those is from the foods you eat. Some types of food provide more baby building blocks for fewer calories. You'll want to use a lot of those types of foods in your eating plan.

Other foods offer plenty of calories, but not many nutrients. This group includes refined and processed foods, fast foods, sweetened drinks and junk food. Select these types of items as the occasional treat, but not the main part of your diet.

Take a look at the less refined and processed foods instead as the foundation of your healthy pregnancy diet. What you eat every day should include a variety of healthy foods, including lean proteins and dairy products, whole grains, healthy fats, fresh vegetables and fruits.

By changing what and how you eat, your varied diet sets your baby's taste preferences to "adventurous and healthy." Better food choices also trigger specific gene expression that means better health throughout your baby's childhood and beyond.

When you control your weight gain, you reduce pregnancy complications that could affect your baby's physical and mental development. You end up avoiding certain risks the extra pounds could bring while making it easier to drop pounds after birth. Most importantly, your family learns new ways to eat that improves everyone's health.

Are you concerned about gaining too much or too little this pregnancy? Will the latest research influence your diet and pregnancy weight gain?