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Are Pregnant Women Gaining Too Much Weight?

ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
January 30, 2017
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Image: Thinkstock

Pregnancy weight gain is certainly healthy and inevitable, but nearly half of all pregnant women in the U.S. are gaining more weight than they should be.

A new study, published in the April edition of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that misconceptions are the source of blame.

“Most women feel that pregnancy is the time when weight does not matter and it is an opportunity to eat as much as desired,” says Karen Cooper, DO, a Cleveland ob-gyn. “Most believe the myth that the weight will be lost quickly and easily after delivery.” In reality, you only get a bonus 300 calories per day.

Of the 44,000 women who participated in the study (each gave birth to a single full-term baby), slightly over 47 percent gained excessive weight. About 20 percent didn’t gain enough weight, and 32 percent fell within the recommended range. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends a gain of 25 to 35 pounds throughout pregnancy. Bump that up to 28 to 40 pounds if you’re underweight at conception. Overweight women are encouraged to keep weight gain between 15 to 25 pounds.

Pre-pregnancy weight seemed to be the biggest determining factor in pregnancy weight gain. But race, ethnicity, education level and health conditions (like diabetes) played a role as well.

“This is a concern because gaining too much weight has health consequences for both mothers and infants,” says study author Andrea Sharma, an epidemiologist with the CDC.

There’s plenty of reasons to  watch your weight during pregnancy. It makes labor easier and lessens your risk of experiencing preterm birth or gestational diabetes. Regular exercise is also important — but talk to your doctor about what’s safe for you.

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