Eating for Appropriate Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Guidelines for Weight Gain
- Women beginning pregnancy at a normal weight (defined as body mass index [BMI] of 18.5-24.9) are advised to gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy.
- Underweight women (BMI 18.4 or less) are advised to gain 28-40 pounds.
- Overweight women (BMI 25-29.9) are advised to gain 15-25 pounds.
- Obese women (BMI 30 and over) are advised to gain 11-20 pounds.
Risks of Too Little or Too Much Weight Gain
Risks to the Mother
- Delivering a low birthweight baby
- Preterm birth
- Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure called preeclampsia
- Gestational diabetes—which can lead to baby with high birthweight
- Preterm birth
- Longer labor and labor complications
- Cesarean delivery
Risks to Your Baby
- Poor growth
- Developmental problems
- Higher risk of jaundice
- Lung and breathing problems
- Systemic infection—neonatal sepsis
- Infant mortality
- Injury during birth, such as shoulder dystocia
- Low blood sugar after birth
- Metabolic syndrome—elevated blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and excess body fat, which can lead to diabetes and heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
Maximizing Nutrition Without Maximizing Calories
- Make sure your diet is high in healthy foods with lots of nutrition. This includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Limit intake of foods high in sugar, saturated and trans fats (fried foods, whole dairy products, red meats).
- Avoid foods that are high in calories and little nutrition (cookies, cakes, chips, and soda).
A Note About Food Safety
- Do not eat or drink any raw or unpasteurized milk or milk products
- Do not eat raw or partially cooked eggs
- Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish because of high mercury levels
- Limit white albacore tuna to 6 ounces a week or less (because of possible mercury content)
- Eat only deli, luncheon meats, or hotdogs that have been fully cooked or properly heated (if you are at high risk, you should avoid these foods completely)
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
ChooseMyPlate—US Department of Agriculture http://www.choosemyplate.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Women's Health Matters—Women's College Hospital http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
Listeriosis in pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 7, 2014. Accessed November 10, 2014.
Nutritional needs during pregnancy. US Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/pregnancy-breastfeeding/pregnancy-nutritional-needs.html. Accessed November 10, 2014.
Nutrition in pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 15, 2014. Accessed November 10, 2014.
Overcash RT, Lacoursiere DY. The clinical approach to obesity in pregnancy. Clin Obstet Gynecol. 2014;57(3):485-500.
Rasmussen KM, Catalano PM, et al. New guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2009;21(6):521-526.
Rooney BL, Schauberger CW. Excess pregnancy weight gain and long-term obesity: One decade later. Obstet Gynecol. 2002;100:245-252.
Supertracker: My foods, my fitness, my health. US Department of Agriculture Supertracker website. https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx. Accessed November 10, 2010.
Thorsdottir I, Torfadottir JE, et al. Weight gain in women of normal weight before pregnancy: complications in pregnancy or delivery and birth outcome. Obstet Gynecol. 2002;99:799-806.
Weight gain in pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 15, 2014. Accessed November 10, 2014.
2/5/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Cheng YW, Chung JH, et al. Gestational weight gain and gestational diabetes mellitus: perinatal outcomes. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:1015-1022. Hillier TA, Pedula KL, et al. Excess gestational weight gain: Modifying fetal macrosomia risk associated with maternal glucose. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:1007-1014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods MD
- Review Date: 11/2014 -
- Update Date: 11/10/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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