Pregnancy is an exciting time. Everything you do affects baby too, which is likely how the old saying “eating for two” came about. While you should eat enough to nourish another little life, how much more is that? Can too much weight gain be dangerous? Read on for answers to common pregnancy weight questions.
Should I be eating for two?
While your body is busy working on little miracle inside of you, the truth is you should not be doubling your intake of food. In fact, you only should consume a total of 200-300 extra calories daily in the second and third trimester of pregnancy.
How much weight should I gain?
Optimal weight gain during pregnancy contributes to an overall healthier experience. The amount of weight you should gain depends on your weight prior to pregnancy.
- Underweight women (BMI less than 18.5) should gain 28-40 lbs.
- Normal weight women (BMI 18.5-24.9) should gain 25-35 lbs.
- Overweight women (BMI 25-29.9) should gain 15-25 lbs.
- Obese women (BMI greater than 30) should gain 11-20 lbs.
Weight gained during pregnancy should be lost prior to becoming pregnant again. If not, you could potentially gain an excessive amount of weight over multiple pregnancies and that could negatively impact your health.
Does being obese put me at risk?
Obesity (BMI greater than 30) during pregnancy puts you at risk for serious health conditions. These include gestational diabetes, which is when a mother develops diabetes during pregnancy. This can put you at risk of having a cesarean delivery and complications to baby due to the gestational diabetes.
Obesity in pregnancy also puts you at risk for elevated blood pressure which can range from gestational hypertension all the way to preeclampsia and eclampsia. These are serious conditions which may affect your liver and kidneys. In rare cases stroke can occur. Obesity in pregnancy also puts you at risk for sleep apnea, which can lead to fatigue, elevated blood pressure, preeclampsia and heart and lung disorders.
Does being obese put my baby at risk?
Obesity increases your risk of pregnancy loss compared to women of normal weight. It can also increase the risk of your baby having birth defects, including heart and neural tube defects. Obesity in pregnancy can make diagnostic tests such as ultrasound less accurate. Obesity also puts your baby at risk for macrosomia (baby is larger than normal), which puts baby at risk for injury during delivery and increases the risk of C-section. Because obesity puts you at increased risk for medical complications during pregnancy, you are also at increased risk of having a preterm delivery and/or labor dystocia which is a medical term for abnormal labor course. Finally, the higher a pregnant woman’s BMI is, the higher the risk of stillbirth.
Can I exercise while I’m pregnant?
Yes! Regular physical activity during all stages of life, including pregnancy, has many benefits. If you have never exercised before pregnancy, this is not the time to train for a marathon. Most activities are okay but talk to your doctor about specifics. Generally, exercise for 30 minutes, five days a week is encouraged. While exercising, keep your heart rate under 160. If you have a medical condition that complicates your pregnancy, such as elevated blood pressure, it’s even more important to talk to your doctor before exercising while pregnant.
What should I do if I’m thinking about becoming pregnant?
If you are overweight or obese this is a great time to lose weight. Even losing a small amount (5-7%) of your body weight can improve your health and make for an overall healthier pregnancy.
If you have concerns about weight or just have general questions about pregnancy, call your provider’s office for a preconception appointment. Your provider can address your concerns before you embark on this important and joyful journey.
Dr. Ines Teuma
Family Medicine & Obstetrics