Gaining the Right Pregnancy Weight

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May 7, 2002 -- Women who are at a normal weight before becoming pregnant should gain the recommended 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. Any more, or less, could spell trouble for mom and for baby.

Excess weight gain can bring on gestational diabetes, the dangerously high blood pressure of preeclampsia, and difficulties during delivery. On the opposite end of the spectrum, gaining too little weight can lead to low birth weight babies, who are more prone than their heftier counterparts to a variety of health problems down the road.

Inga Thorsdottir, PhD, RD, RN, nutrition researcher at Landspitali-University Hospital at University of Iceland in Reykjavik, and colleagues followed 615 average-sized pregnant women to see how weight gain affected their pregnancies, deliveries, and the health of their babies.

Overall, those who stayed within the weight-gain guidelines had fewer pregnancy and delivery complications than women gaining more than 44 pounds.

On average, the women tended to gain 37 pounds -- just a bit higher than the recommended upper limit. But as weight gain increased, so did risk of complications. Women who gained 39-45 pounds had triple the risk of women who had the fewest problems -- those who gained 27-34 pounds.

A pregnancy weight gain of 25-35 pounds for women of normal weight before pregnancy is related to the lowest risk for pregnancy-delivery complications, according to the researchers.

However, they also note that the recommended upper limit might be higher -- possibly up to 40 pounds. But low weight gain should also be avoided to optimize the health of both mother and baby, they conclude.

Talk to your doctor to see what the appropriate amount of weight gain during pregnancy is for you. This study was dealing with women who were of normal weight before pregnancy. The recommended weight gain is different for women who are either underweight or overweight before pregnancy.

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