Most women know that, in fact, one isn’t really supposed to “eat for two” when pregnant. There are standard guidelines to follow regarding weight gain during pregnancy, especially in regards to Body Mass Index. The risks associated with obesity while pregnant can cause health issues for both mom and baby, so indulge your cravings cautiously.
During pregnancy, the recommendation for women of normal weight is to take in just 300 more calories per day which is about half a turkey sandwich and an apple. Expecting women also know that food cravings during pregnancy are common and real but rarely do those eating urges involve turkey or an apple. No – instead, prenatal food cravings are more likely to be a strong desire for something like peanut butter lathered over an Oreo cookie or salty chips with dip. The good news: As long as your prenatal diet is generally healthy and you’re also exercising, giving in to the lure of tasty treats once in a while is OK. But what about when the desire to eat unhealthy food or extra-large portions is getting the best of you? How does maternal weight affect the pregnancy and the growing fetus?
Women who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for both maternal and fetal complications during pregnancy. Obesity, especially, increases the risk of cesarean section and of the mother developing preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.
For the baby, maternal obesity increases the risk of stillbirth, neural tube defects, macrosomia (large baby), and preterm delivery (not spontaneous preterm birth but intentional preterm delivery in which mom is induced early when her condition, or the condition of the baby, becomes concerning).
So what is a healthy weight gain during pregnancy? That depends on your pre-pregnancy body mass index. To determine your BMI, check out the CDC’s online Adult BMI Calculator, plug in your height and pre-pregnancy weight, and voila! Your index is calculated for you (your care provider will calculate BMI as part of your prenatal care). Your BMI correlates to your weight status which determines how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy.
Weight Gain During Pregnancy based on BMI:
The best way to stay ahead of the negative effects of obesity is to get as close to a normal weight prior to getting pregnant. Obesity can be controlled by limiting weight gain during pregnancy as noted in the chart above. Consider a nutritionist and fitness trainer to help you eat healthy, exercise sufficiently, and stay on track. After you give birth, make a strong effort to continue your healthy lifestyle so you’re in shape for a future pregnancy and will have the strength and endurance you need to care for your child and yourself.
Baby+Company Maternity Centers work with clients to support a healthy lifestyle, including diet, and provide numerous classes and support groups to help women navigate a healthy pregnancy. Clients with a BMI equal or greater than 35 are considered high risk and are not eligible for care in the Center.